Monday, October 31, 2005

Judge Alito's Mother: "Of Course He's Against Abortion"

From the Associated Press:

President Bush nominated veteran judge Samuel Alito for the Supreme Court Monday, seeking to shift the judiciary to the right and mollify conservatives who derailed his previous pick. Ready-to-rumble Democrats said Alito may curb abortion rights and be "too radical for the American people."

Drawing an unspoken contrast to failed nominee Harriet Miers, Bush declared that the appeals court judge "has more prior judicial experience than any Supreme Court nominee in more than 70 years."

Abortion emerged as a potential fault line. Democrats pointed to Alito's rulings that sought to restrict a woman's right to abortion. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, a Republican who supports abortion rights, said that Alito's views on the hot-button issue "will be among one of the first items Judge Alito and I will discuss."

Alito's mother shed some light. "Of course, he's against abortion," 90-year-old Rose Alito said of her son, a Catholic.

Alito, 55, newly installed Chief Justice John Roberts, 50, and the more than 200 other federal judges Bush has pushed through the Senate could give the Republican president a legacy far beyond his two terms.


So consistently conservative, Alito has been dubbed "Scalito" or "Scalia-lite" by some lawyers because his judicial philosophy invites comparisons to conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. But while Scalia is outspoken and is known to badger lawyers, Alito is polite, reserved and even-tempered.


The jurist from New Jersey favors more restrictions on abortion rights than either the Supreme Court has allowed or O'Connor has supported, based on a 1992 case in which he supported spousal notification.

Bush called for confirmation by year's end, but Senate leaders said the vote may wait until next year.

Wasting no time, Alito went to the Capitol shortly after the announcement to meet with lawmakers. Accompanied by two of his children and Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist, Alito paused first to pay his respects at the coffin of the late civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks in the Capitol rotunda.

Specter said he would not ask Alito directly about whether he would overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion rights ruling.

"There is a lot more to do with a woman's right to choose than how you feel about it personally," he said. Specter cited adherence to legal precedent in view of a series of rulings over 30 years upholding abortion rights.

With no sign of irony, Republicans demanded that Alito get a vote in the Senate — something they denied Miers.

"Let's give Judge Alito a fair up or down vote, not left or right," said Sen. John Thune of South Dakota.

Republicans who frowned upon Miers said Alito's selection was in keeping with Bush's promise to conservatives who helped elect him twice. "What I've been hoping for is we would get nominees with a paper trail so we can know their views," said Sen. Sam Brownback (news, bio, voting record), R-Kan., a potential presidential candidate courting conservative voters.

Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson called the pick "a grand-slam home run." Gary Bauer, a conservative activist who joined allies on the right to challenge Miers nomination, said, "Now with Judge Alito the battle is where it belongs; it's a battle against the president's avowed political enemies."

Alito, who was nominated to the appeals court by Bush's father, signaled his alliance with Bauer and other conservatives by speaking of the "limited role the courts play in our constitutional system."

Abortion-rights activists denounced the pick. "Now, the gauntlet has been, I think, thrown down," said Kate Michelman, past president of NARAL-Pro-Choice American.

"I believe this nomination is aimed at appeasing the most right-wing elements of the president's political base," said Sen. Barbara Boxer (news, bio, voting record), D-Calif.

Miers bowed out last Thursday after three weeks of bruising criticism from members of Bush's own party who argued that the Texas lawyer and loyal Bush confidant had thin credentials and no proven record as a judicial conservative.

What a joke: Republicans didn't want to give Miers an up or down vote because they didn't like her, but just four days later they're saying Scalito must get an up or down vote or else.

Fucking hypocrites.

It's nice to hear Scalito's 90 year old mother tell us the truth about his abortion views, however.

Kinda like a Connie Chung/Mrs. Gingrich moment.

More Rove Stuff

Dan Froomkin from the Washington Post writes about the continuing investigation into Karl Rove's activities in the CIA leak case and wonders if Preznit Bush should fire Dear Karl (since Bush had promised to take care of anybody within his administration who was involved in the leaking of classified material):

In a none-too-subtle attempt to change the subject first thing this morning, President Bush summoned the press to the White House and named appeals court Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Coverage of a divisive nomination fight -- with Bush's right flank solidly behind him this time -- is much more to the White House's liking than all that nattering about the president's seemingly doomed second term in general, and the indictment of former vice presidential chief of staff Scooter Libby in particular.

But Friday's announcement of Libby's indictment on five felony counts for intentionally obstructing the investigation into the leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity is not the end of that story.

And the press, while blithely chasing another scent this morning, will be back in the hunt soon enough. If nothing else, Libby's public arraignment should bring out the media hordes. (Mark your calendars: it will be Thursday morning at 10:30 before Judge Reggie B. Walton in Courtroom 5 of the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse.)

Special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald may yet have some more indictments in store for us. But even if he doesn't, the information he released on Friday -- which initially struck many media observers as maddeningly short on details -- is in fact a still largely unmined treasure trove of hints about potentially serious ethical missteps by all sorts of senior Bush officials.

Just because a lot of the things Fitzgerald discovered evidently fell short of his very conservative prosecutorial standards -- they weren't out-and-out, beyond-a-reasonable-doubt crimes -- doesn't mean they were up to the standards the public reasonably expects from its White House.

"I know that people want to know whatever it is that we know, and they're probably sitting at home with TVs thinking, 'I want to jump through the TV, grab him by his collar and tell him to tell us everything they've figured out over the last two years,' " Fitzgerald said at his long-awaited Friday news conference.

Include me in.

But consider the constraints Fitzgerald was working under, and take a closer look at the news conference transcript and the indictment .

There is plenty of reason to believe that Fitzgerald has discovered evidence that Libby leaked Plame's name; that Karl Rove did the same; that Vice President Cheney's role was central to the drama; and that there was a lot more loose talk at the White House than anyone had imagined. Fitzgerald just isn't 100 percent sure that he can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that any other crimes took place. And grand jury secrecy rules forbid him from disclosing anything that isn't directly related to the filed charges.

Nevertheless, he sure doled out a lot of hints. One of the most intriguing, of course, involves "Official A" -- who several sources have identified as none other than Rove himself.

According to the indictment: "On or about July 10 or July 11, 2003, LIBBY spoke to a senior official in the White House ('Official A') who advised LIBBY of a conversation Official A had earlier that week with columnist Robert Novak in which Wilson's wife was discussed as a CIA employee involved in Wilson's trip. LIBBY was advised by Official A that Novak would be writing a story about Wilson's wife."

If "Official A" is indeed Rove, then how does the White House explain his public insistence, directly and through the White House spokesman, that he was not involved in the leak to Novak? And how does the White House justify his continuing to work there?

Vindicating the Interest

Fitzgerald was tasked with finding out how Plame's identity as a CIA officer was revealed. "It's important that a CIA officer's identity be protected, that it be protected not just for the officer, but for the nation's security," he said Friday.

And although it's received fairly little attention, Fitzgerald stressed several times Friday that although he didn't charge Libby with a violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, he felt the interests in the case had been vindicated.

"QUESTION: Mr. Fitzgerald, the Republicans previewed some talking points in anticipation of your indictment and they said that if you didn't indict on the underlying crimes and you indicted on things exactly like you did indict -- false statements, perjury, obstruction -- these were, quote/unquote, 'technicalities,' and that it really was over reaching and excessive. . . .

"FITZGERALD: I'll be blunt. That talking point won't fly. If you're doing a national security investigation, if you're trying to find out who compromised the identity of a CIA officer and you go before a grand jury and if the charges are proven -- because remember there's a presumption of innocence -- but if it is proven that the chief of staff to the vice president went before a federal grand jury and lied under oath repeatedly and fabricated a story about how he learned this information, how he passed it on, and we prove obstruction of justice, perjury and false statements to the FBI, that is a very, very serious matter. . . .

"Our allegation is in trying to drill down and find out exactly what we got here, if we received false information, that process is frustrated. . . .

"If Mr. Libby is proven to have done what we've alleged, convicting him of obstruction of justice, perjury and false statements -- very serious felonies -- will vindicate the interest of the public in making sure he's held accountable."

I will say again that while the White House is sending out the message that Dear Karl is safe from indictment and the Mainstream Media lapdogs are repeating the same RNC talking points until they're blue and breathless, Rove REMAINS in legal jeopardy.

I won't bore you with the reasons why I believe this except to say that if Fitzgerald thought the investigation was over he would tell us and if Fitzgerald didn't still have Rove in his sights he wouldn't have referred to Mr. Rove as "Official A" in the Libby indictment.

So let's see where we are two weeks from now, let's see what Fitzgerald does with the new grand jury and let's be careful before we accept leaked information from Rove's lawyer as fact.

Supreme Court Pick Today

The Associated Press is reporting that Preznit Bush is going to pick Samuel Alito to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court:

WASHINGTON - President Bush is nominating Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, The Associated Press has learned, choosing a long-time federal judge embraced by judicial conservatives to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Bush plans to announce the nomination at 8 a.m. ET, the officials said.

The choice likely will mend a rift in the Republican Party caused by his failed nomination of Harriet Miers.

Miers bowed out last Thursday after three weeks of bruising criticism from members of Bush's own party who argued that the Texas lawyer and loyal Bush confidant had thin credentials on constitutional law and no proven record as a judicial conservative.

NEWSWEEK columnist Jonathan Alter just said on IMUS in the Morning on MSNBC that Alito is such a wing-nut that he upheld a Pennsylvania law that required a woman to get her husband's approval before getting an abortion.

Harry Reid said yesterday that Alito would be unacceptable to Senate Democrats and was guaranteed to bring a fight between left and right over the nomination.

So Preznit Bush has gone back to his old "Divide and Conquer" playbook to save his failing presidency. I guess he (and Rove) figure they can circle the wagons for the next three years of scandals, throw red meat to the base (thus shoring up the flagging loyalty of the wingnuttery), and give the proverbial finger to the middle and the left.

Will the preznit and the GOP have the political juice to ram Alito through the Senate? Will Senate Democrats, emboldened by all of the Bush failures/scandals in the last three months, beat back this nomination, even if it requires a nuclear option showdown? And how will the American people feel about a wingnut judge who believes a woman has to get her husband's approval before getting an abortion?

Lots of questions, few answers. But at least we know what Preznit Bush's comback strategy is going to be in the wake of all the failures and scandals plaguing his administration: Feed the base and fuck everybody else.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Washington Post: Rove Remains In "Serious Jeopardy" in CIA Leak Case

Finally somebody in the Mainstream Media counters the spin coming from Karl Rove's PR operation that says Rove is out of legal jeopardy in the CIA leak case. Here's Dana Milbank and Carol Leonnig from the Washington Post on why Rove's fate in the case remains uncertain:

In the indictment, "Official A" is a senior White House official who discussed with syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak the identity of administration critic and former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV's wife as a CIA covert agent; that person has been identified as Rove by senior administration officials.

On June 10, 2004, Bush, responded affirmatively when asked in a news conference if he would "fire anyone found" to have leaked Plame's name (although Bush has qualified that pledge on other occasions). On Sept. 29, 2003, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said of the leak: "If anyone in this administration was involved in it, they would no longer be in this administration."

Republicans and White House officials expressed relief that Rove was not indicted Friday, and they take it as a sign that his chances of being indicted are remote.

Rove's attorney provided Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald with a last-minute flurry of material and evidence supporting Rove's contention that he simply forgot his conversation about Wilson's wife with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper -- rather than lied about it, according to people close to Rove. The sources said it gave Fitzgerald "pause" about his earlier intentions to charge Rove with false statements to the FBI, and he agreed to continue investigating.

But two legal sources intimately familiar with Fitzgerald's tactics in this inquiry said they believe Rove remains in significant danger. They described Fitzgerald as being relentlessly thorough but also conservative throughout this prosecution -- and his willingness to consider Rove's eleventh-hour pleading of a memory lapse is merely a sign of Fitzgerald's caution.

The two legal sources point to what they consider Fitzgerald's careful decision not to charge Libby with the leak of a covert agent's identity, given that the prosecutor had amassed considerable evidence that Libby gave classified information, which he knew from his job should not be made public, to reporters. Another prosecutor might have stretched to make a leak charge, on the theory that a jury would believe, based on other actions, that Libby acted with bad intentions.

Another warning sign for Rove was in the phrasing of Friday's indictment of Libby. Fitzgerald referred to Rove in those charging papers as a senior White House official and dubbed him "Official A." In prosecutorial parlance, this kind of awkward pseudonym is often used for individuals who have not been indicted in a case but still face a significant chance of being charged. No other official in the investigation carries such an identifier.

Somebody should alert David Broder, TweetyBird Matthews, Pumpkinhead Russert, Emptyheaded Woodruff and the rest of the spinmeisters in the Mainstream Media that just because Rove's lawyer says Rove's out of legal jeopardy doesn't make it so.


GOP Talking Point: White House Exonerated On Leaking Classified Information/Identity

The GOP surrogates hit heavy, hard, and often on this morning's news talk shows that because only Scooter Libby was indicted on perjury/false statements/obstruction charges, Fitzgerald couldn't indict on the Identities Protection Act and there was no "real" crime committed here.

John Aravosis at AMERICAblog puts this meme to rest more articulately than I could, so I quote it:

Of course Fitzgerald didn't charge anybody with violating the secrecy statutues - Libby obstructed the entire investigation
by John in DC - 10/30/2005 11:39:00 AM

Fitzgerald mentioned this on Friday, but it's worth repeating, since the Republican surrogates are now suggesting that no "real" crime occured because Fitzgerald has yet to charge anyone with leaking classified information.

Scooter, and possibly others (Official A comes to mind), obstructed the investigation. They lied to the investigators and thwarted the effort of the investigators to find out the truth. It wouldn't be surprising that when the key witness is lying and refusing to come clean, to this day, that the investigation hasn't yet charged anyone with the underlying crime. I mean, duh. As Fitzgerald noted, this is why perjury and obstruction of justice are such serious crimes. Scooter is literally stopping Fitzgerald from finding out what happened. So to suggest that Scooter's apparently-successful (so far) effort to obstruct the investigation by lying somehow proves that Scooter and Rove didn't violate any secrecy laws, well, that's just absurd.

And Al Capone was innocent of being a mobster, by the way. After all, they only got him on tax evasion, so that proves the prosecutor concluded he was innocent of everything else.

No one on the Sunday shows, not Pumpkinhead Russert, not Emptyhead Woodruff, not even Senate Minority Leader Reid, seemed to be able to counter the Bobo Brooks/Bill Safire/George Will argument that no real crime was committed and Fitzgerald couldn't indict on the IIPA statute BECAUSE Libby lied and obstructed justice.

Jesus Fucking Christ, how hard a concept is that to understand? Are the members of the American media so fucking stupid that they cannot grasp this idea or are they so easily manipulated by the Rovian spin that they just repeat GOP talking points ad nauseum and without compunction? Or are they just on the Armstrong Williams/Maggie Gallagher payroll?

Could these media people with the journalism degrees from Columbia and Berkeley do their fucking jobs and hold the people in power accountable instead of simply repeating the power elite's talking points like they're newsworthy and/or truthful?

Is Rove Really Off The Hook?

The conventional wisdom this weekend is that Karl Rove talked himself out of a perjury charge last week. Here's Michael Isikoff from NEWSWEEK with the story:

Nov. 7, 2005 issue - Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's decision not to indict deputy White House chief of staff Karl Rove in the CIA leak case followed a flurry of last-minute negotiations between the prosecutor and Rove's defense lawyer, Robert Luskin. On Tuesday afternoon, Fitzgerald and the chief FBI agent on the case, Jack Eckenrode, visited the offices of the D.C. law firm where Luskin works to meet with the defense lawyer. Two sources close to Rove who asked not to be identified because the probe is ongoing said Luskin presented evidence that gave the prosecutor "pause." One small item was a July 11, 2003, e-mail Rove sent to former press aide Adam Levine saying Levine could come up to his office to discuss a personnel issue. The e-mail was at 11:17 a.m., minutes after Rove had gotten off the phone with Matt Cooper—the same conversation (in which White House critic Joe Wilson's wife's work for the CIA was discussed) that Rove originally failed to disclose to the grand jury. Levine, with whom Rove often discussed his talks with reporters, did immediately go up to see Rove. But as Levine told the FBI last week, Rove never said anything about Cooper. The Levine talk was arguably helpful to one of Luskin's arguments: that, as a senior White House official, Rove dealt with a wide range of matters and might not remember every conversation he has had with journalists. In any case, Fitzgerald made another visit early Friday morning—shortly before the grand jury voted to indict Dick Cheney's top aide, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby—to the office of James Sharp, President George W. Bush's own lawyer in the case, to tell him the president's closest aide would not be charged. Rove remains in some jeopardy, but the consensus view of lawyers close to the case is that he has probably dodged the bullet.
So let me get this straight: Rove thinks he's off the hook for perjury because the Levine email shows he could have plausibly forgotten the Cooper conversation.

But didn't Rove email deputy national security adviser Stephen Hadley right after he got off the phone with Cooper to tell Hadley he had "waved" Cooper off the Wilson story? And didn't that email disappear for a while before it mysteriously resurfaced and got to Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation team?

Didn't Michael Isikoff just cover this story a couple of weeks ago in NEWSWEEK?

Oct. 17, 2005 issue - The White House's handling of a potentially crucial e-mail sent by senior aide Karl Rove two years ago set off a chain of events that has led special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to summon Rove for a fourth grand jury appearance this week. His return has created heightened concern among White House officials and their allies that Fitzgerald may be preparing to bring indictments when a federal grand jury that has been investigating the leak of a CIA agent's identity expires at the end of October. Robert Luskin, Rove's lawyer, tells NEWSWEEK that, in his last conversations with Fitzgerald, the prosecutor assured Luskin "he has not made any decisions."

But lawyers close to the case, who asked not to be identified because it's ongoing, say Fitzgerald appears to be focusing in part on discrepancies in testimony between Rove and Time reporter Matt Cooper about their conversation of July 11, 2003. In Cooper's account, Rove told him the wife of White House critic Joseph Wilson worked at the "agency" on WMD issues and was responsible for sending Wilson on a trip to Niger to check out claims that Iraq was trying to buy uranium. But Rove did not disclose this conversation to the FBI when he was first interviewed by agents in the fall of 2003—nor did he mention it during his first grand jury appearance, says one of the lawyers familiar with Rove's account. (He did not tell President George W. Bush about it either, assuring him that fall only that he was not part of any "scheme" to discredit Wilson by outing his wife, the lawyer says.) But after he testified, Luskin discovered an e-mail Rove had sent that same day—July 11—alerting deputy national-security adviser Stephen Hadley that he had just talked to Cooper, the lawyer says. In the e-mail, Rove said Cooper pushed him on whether the president was being hurt by the Niger controversy. "I didn't take the bait," Rove wrote Hadley, adding that he warned Cooper not to get "far out in front on this." After reviewing the e-mail, Rove then returned to the grand jury last year and reported the Cooper conversation. He testified that the talk was initially about "welfare reform"—a topic mentioned in the e-mail—and that Cooper then changed the subject. Cooper has written that he doesn't recall a discussion of welfare reform.

Why didn't the Rove e-mail surface earlier? The lawyer says it's because an electronic search conducted by the White House missed it because the right "search words" weren't used. (The White House and Fitzgerald both declined to comment.)

So I don't get it. How does the July 11, 2003 Levine email get Rove off the hook when clearly he thought the Cooper conversation was important enough to tell Hadley about it? Is Rove arguing he forgot the conversation after the Hadley email but before the Levine email?

Did Fitzgerald really buy this evidence as reason to pull back from indicting Rove on perjury or does he have something else up his sleeve for Karl? Is Fitzgerald waiting to see what testimony he can get out of Scooter Libby before he decides what to do with Rove/

And why would a reporter as good as Isikoff seemingly buy the Rove spin about the Levine email getting Rove off the hook when he just wrote about the "missing" Hadley email weeks before?

Strange stuff going on here. Despite the spin coming out of the White House, I can't believe Karl Rove is completely in the clear just yet. I think I'll wait for Patrick Fitzgerald to tell us he's completely done before I believe Turdblossom survived a perjury investigation.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Why Did Libby Lie So Badly?

Lots of people are asking why Vice Preznit Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby lied to prosecutors and federal investigators so badly in the CIA leak case. Libby told both the FBI and the grand jury investigating the case that he first heard about Plame from journalists, specifically Tim Russert of NBC. But there were lots of other people who were testifying that they did not tell Libby about Valerie Plame Wilson. And Russert was adamant in saying that he did not know about Valerie Plame or tell Libby about her.

So why did Libby tell this story? Did he just figure that journalists wouldn't give him up when federal investigators came calling because of their commitment to confidentiality?

Or did Libby figure Attorney General John Ashcroft would make it all go away quietly?

Remember, Ashcroft was running the investigation into the CIA leak case for the first few months until he had to recuse himself and Deputy Attorney General James Comey tapped U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to run the investigation. Undoubtedly, Libby, Rove, Cheney and the rest of the White House Iraq Group figured Ashcroft wouldn't push too hard in the investigation so all they had to do was come up with plausible stories for how they learned the name and/or identity of Ms. Plame. But once Fitzgerald showed up on the scene and showed everybody he meant business, they were screwed because now they were stuck with their stories that seemed plausible as long as you didn't look to hard at them.

And of course Fitzgerald took long, hard looks at all of the evidence. He wasn't a political hack or a patronage crony willing to look the other way. He wasn't interested in being Ambassador to Trinidad or becoming Attorney General himself.

He only wanted to find out the truth and see if a crime had been committed.

Now we'll just have to see if Fitzgerald is going to lean on Libby and get him to turn evidence against higher ups like Rove or Cheney. Remember that Fitzgerald has indicted mid-level people in other cases to squeeze them for evidence and testimony against higher ups. In both the Hollinger case, where he squeezed a mid-level executive to get at media mogul Conrad Black, and in the corruption case he is pursuing against Illinois Governor George Ryan, where he squeezed patronage cronies to get at the top guy, Fitzgerald has used initial indictments to gather more evidence and nail bigger game.

In other words, despite the assurances of Karl Rove that he is going to have a "great weekend" and the insistence from the White House that it is time to move forward from this case and "focus on the people's business", the CIA leak investigation is far from over.

Unless Libby is content to do 10-30 years in prison, that is.

I'm betting Libby isn't so willing to do that kind of time. Which means we'll be getting more revelations in this case and very possibly more indictments.

So have a nice weekend, Karl. I wouldn't be too sure you're home free just yet.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Karl Rove is "Official A" in CIA Leak Case Indictment

Seems like it's too early for Karl Rove or the White House to celebrate Rove avoiding indictment today in the CIA leak case. From the Associated Press:

'Official A' Stands Out in Indictment

The Associated Press
Friday, October 28, 2005; 6:52 PM

WASHINGTON -- In a sign of the trouble lingering for the Bush administration, the indictment handed up Friday in the CIA leak probe refers to someone at the White House known as "Official A."

The unidentified official could become a courtroom witness against I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who left his job as vice presidential aide shortly after his indictment on charges of obstruction of justice, making false statements and perjury.

Although other officials are mentioned but not named in the indictment, all were identified Friday afternoon during briefings at the Justice Department.

Except for "Official A."

The mysterious official is identified in the indictment only as "a senior official in the White House."

No mention is made of Karl Rove, the president's political adviser who remains under investigation by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald.

It has been known that columnist Robert Novak spoke to Rove on July 9, 2003, saying he planned to report over the weekend that Valerie Plame, the wife of Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson, had worked for the CIA. Rove told the columnist he had heard similar information.

Friday's indictment says "Official A" is a "senior official in the White House who advised Libby on July 10 or 11 of 2003" about a chat with Novak about his upcoming column in which Plame would be identified as a CIA employee.

Late Friday, three people close to the investigation, each asking to remain unidentified because of grand jury secrecy, identified Rove as Official A.

Karl Rove is "Official A."

I bet Patrick Fitzgerald wants to indict "Official A."

I bet that's why he isn't ending the investigation just yet.

Libby Indicted, Rove Remains In Jeopardy

From The Washington Post:

Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, was indicted today by a federal grand jury after a nearly two-year investigation into the leak of a CIA agent's identity.

Capping a week of political turmoil in Washington, Libby promptly resigned and left the White House. He expressed confidence that eventually he would be "totally exonerated," and both Cheney and President Bush praised his talent and dedication. "Obviously, today is a sad day for me and my family," Libby said in a statement.

The grand jury did not return an indictment against another top administration official who was caught up in the probe: Karl Rove, President Bush's top political strategist. But the special counsel in the case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, said the investigation is "not over" and that another grand jury would be kept open in case prosecutors decide to press other charges.

Libby, 55, was indicted on charges of perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements. The five-count indictment charges that he lied to FBI agents and to the federal grand jury about how and when he learned classified information about the employment of a CIA agent, Valerie Plame, and disclosed that information to three journalists. If convicted on all counts, Libby faces up to 30 years in prison and a $1.25 million fine.

In brief remarks before flying to Camp David for the weekend, Bush said he had accepted the resignation and praised Libby as an aide who "worked tirelessly on behalf of the American people and sacrificed much in the service to this country." He called the investigation "serious" and said the process now moves to a new phase, leading to a trial.

"While we are all saddened by today's news, we remain wholly focused on the many issues and opportunities facing this country," Bush said. "I got a job to do, and so do the people who work in the White House." He did not take any questions from reporters.

Cheney said in a statement that he accepted Libby's resignation "with deep regret." He called his aide "one of the most capable and talented individuals I have ever known." Cheney added that "it would be inappropriate for me to comment on the charges or on any facts relating to the proceeding."

The indictment was handed up today as the grand jury's term expired. Although no indictment was announced for Rove, 54, the White House deputy chief of staff, today's proceedings did not remove him from legal jeopardy, since the investigation is continuing.

An attorney for Rove, Robert Luskin, said in a statement this morning, "The Special Counsel has advised Mr. Rove that he has made no decision about whether or not to bring charges and that Mr. Rove's status has not changed. Mr. Rove will continue to cooperate fully with the Special Counsel's efforts to complete the investigation. We are confident that when the Special Counsel finishes his work, he will conclude that Mr. Rove has done nothing wrong."

Rove provided new information to Fitzgerald during eleventh-hour negotiations that "gave Fitzgerald pause" about charging Bush's senior strategist, said a source close to Rove. "The prosecutor has to resolve those issues before he decides what to do."

"We're not quite done," Fitzgerald said in an hour-long news conference this afternoon. But he refused to comment on whether anyone beside Libby would be charged in the case or whether additional charges against Libby would be sought.

"I will not end the investigation until I can look anyone in the eye and tell them we have carried out our responsibility sufficiently," Fitzgerald said.

Asked about what a reporter described as "Republican talking points" minimizing the significance of today's charges, the prosecutor said lying under oath "is a very, very serious matter" and a "serious breach of the public trust."

He said, "We didn't get the straight story, and we had to take action."

The White House is spinning this as a partial victory since Rove wasn't indicted. I've heard Pete Williams from NBC, Jeffrey Toobin from CNN, and a few other talking heads make similar points that Rove will probably avoid indictment.

Yet the Washington Post story above seems to make clear that Rove isn't out of ythe woods yet and Rawstory has this tidbit:

Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove was the mysterious 'Official A' named in the indictment of Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff, lawyers close to the case have told RAW STORY.

Friday's indictment identified "Official A" as a "senior official in the White House who advised Libby on July 10 or 11 of 2003" about a conversation with conservative columnist Robert Novak about an upcoming column where Plame would be identified as a CIA employee. Novak's column ran Jul. 14, 2003.

Rove is expected to be identified in several newspapers Saturday. The Associated Press is also close to naming Rove as 'Official A.'

Rove's role in the case remains unclear. Those familiar with the investigation say that Rove remains in legal limbo and that Fitzgerald has not finished his inquiry into Bush's chief advisor's role.

Rove may be called on to testify against Libby in the latter's trial.

“This investigation is not yet over,” one of the lawyers in the case said. “You must keep in mind that people like Mr. Rove are still under investigation.”

Is Fitzgerald squeezing Libby to nail Rove? Is Fitzgerald squeezing Libby to nail Cheney? Is Libby the only one going down?

David Gergen just said on the 7:00 PM edition of Hardball that it is too early to tell whether Rove will escape indictment but if the Washington Post is right about Rove coming up with 11th hour testimony that gave Fitzgerald pause on indicting him, then Rove still remains in serious legal jeopardy.

We'll see. This may just be the first act in a legal drama that embroils Karl Rove and/or Dick Cheney or it may be a one-act play with Scooter taking the fall.

Fitzmas Morning Rumors: Libby Indicted, Rove Still In "Legal Jeopardy"

Karl Rove's PR and legal teams were in heavy spin mode last night, weaving tales for the NY Times, the Associated Press, and the Wall Street Journal. The gist is that Vice Preznit Cheney's chief of staff, Scooter Libby, is going to be indicted today in the CIA leak case while Karl Rove remains in "jeopardy".

Here's the Journal account on the case:

With Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald poised to bring charges today against at least one Bush administration official in the CIA-leak investigation, White House officials were told the probe may not be over.

Karl Rove, President Bush's chief political adviser and deputy White House chief of staff, was informed yesterday evening that he may not be charged today but remains in legal jeopardy, according to a person briefed on the matter. Mr. Fitzgerald, who meets with jurors this morning, has zeroed in on potential wrongdoing by I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, and is likely to charge Mr. Libby at least with making false statements. The testimony of reporters who have been witnesses in the case has contradicted Mr. Libby's public statements.

Mr. Fitzgerald appeared still to be pondering whether to charge Mr. Rove and has notified the political strategist that he remains under investigation.

A spokesman for the White House referred calls to Mr. Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, who declined to comment. Mr. Libby's lawyer, Joseph Tate, didn't return messages seeking comment.


Mr. Rove, who testified four times before the grand jury in this case, had faced possible charges for perjury or false statements for differences between his testimony and that of Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper, lawyers have said. Mr. Rove's lawyer has tried in recent weeks to persuade Mr. Fitzgerald not to charge his client, and met with the prosecutor as recently as Tuesday to discuss the case.

The potential indictment of Mr. Rove has been considered a nightmare scenario by members of the Republican party, for while he is best known for being a superb political strategist, Mr. Rove has also become the connective tissue between politics and the policies of the administration, frequently serving as Mr. Bush's voice in legislative negotiations in Congress. Some Republicans even link the administration's recent setbacks on Hurricane Katrina and Ms. Miers to Mr. Rove's legal distractions.

It is possible that others in the administration could face indictment as well, including whoever originally leaked the name of Central Intelligence Agency operative Valerie Plame to columnist Robert Novak, the first to publish it in July 2003.

Mr. Fitzgerald had been hoping to wrap up his case today, which is when the grand jury expires, although it is possible that he could seek a brief extension. Alternatively, Mr. Fitzgerald could present the continuing portion of the case to a new grand jury. The investigation has enmeshed more than two dozen Bush administration officials, with a number of top officials, including Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, being quizzed by prosecutors.

Not sure how to read any of this. These leaks are coming from Rove's side, not from Fitzgerald, so all we can be sure about is that Dear Karl wanted these stories in the papers this morning. Which makes me wonder about the veracity of them.

We should finally find out today, one way or the other.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

White House's Post-Indictments Stategy: Change The Subject

What does the White House plan to do if there are publicly televised perp walks involving senior administration officials later this week? Here's the story from McManus, Vieth, and Curtius at the LA Times:

Some key elements of the post-investigation game plan have emerged, GOP advisors said:

• Any indicted White House officials would immediately step down, and Bush would quickly name their successors. If Rove is indicted, more than one person might take over his many responsibilities.

• The president and other White House officials would limit their public comments on the case. Outside interest groups and allies would do most of the talking.

• Whenever possible, Bush and other administration officials would try to change the subject. Among the issues the president plans to put atop his new agenda are spending restraint, tax changes and immigration. In addition, Bush's foreign policy advisors have discussed launching a more visible presidential effort to prod Israel and the Palestinians toward peace, one official said.

• The White House would try to insulate Bush from the scandal allegations. Officials would argue that the president has not been accused of any direct involvement in the leaking of information in the CIA case or subsequent efforts to minimize the political damage. Although it is not yet clear who would coordinate the defense, several advisors said they expected Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman would be heavily involved. One official said former Cheney aide Mary Matalin was another likely participant. Neither Mehlman nor Matalin could be reached for comment.

White House officials and allies are hoping that intensive news coverage of the Fitzgerald investigation will be short-lived. On Nov. 7, they predicted, attention would shift to the Senate confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Harriet E. Miers.

"Let's say something happens in the next 48 hours," said one official. "It will dominate the news cycle until the 7th of November. Then a new cycle begins: Harriet will be the news."

Once the controversy begins to subside, they argued, Bush will have an opening to change the subject and call public attention to Iraq and the domestic economy, where the administration says there is good news.

"Because all this other snap, crackle and pop is occurring, it's harder to tell the story of the progress being made on the foreign policy front and the economic front," another strategist said. "When some of these other stories expire, it will be easier to get back on those issues."


"Changing the subject will not work," said David Gergen, a former aide to Presidents Reagan and Clinton. "Giving more speeches about Iraq or the state of the economy doesn't have the weight that action does…. It's dangerous for the country to have a disabled president for three years, and we're getting close to seeing that happen. I worry that they [Bush and his aides] are in denial."

These guys really do seem in denial. If they think changing the subject from the CIA leak investigation to the economy is going to change their fortunes for the better, they've really got their heads up their asses and are believing their own bullshit.

Between the price of gas, the price of oil, rising food costs, rising drug costs, rising medical costs, a job market that is less than stellar for employees and all of the companies cutting wages, benefits, and pensions, I don't think most Americans outside of the White House or the boardrooms are feeling too optimistic about the economy on either the micro or macro level. Consumer confidence continues to tank in the latest surveys and we have yet to see the full impact of the new bankruptcy law on consumers.

All in all, I don't think trying to sell this economy to the American people as "strong and resilient" is going to either take their minds off the CIA leak investigation or the uncertainty in their own financial fortunes.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Nothing Today In The CIA Leak Case

No real news today in the CIA leak case. Lots of rumors though. The grand jury met for three hours. The special prosecutor met with the presiding judge for an hour today. John at Crooks and Liars reports that he called Fitzgerald's office and was told nothing will break tonight.

Sounds like it's Fitzmas Eve all over again.

I wonder what's going on over at the White House tonight?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Fitzmas Eve

From Steve Clemons at The Washington Note:

Indictments Coming Tomorrow; Targets Received Letters Today

An uber-insider source has just reported the following to TWN (since confirmed by another independent source):

1. 1-5 indictments are being issued. The source feels that it will be towards the higher end.

2. The targets of indictment have already received their letters.

3. The indictments will be sealed indictments and "filed" tomorrow.

4. A press conference is being scheduled for Thursday.

The shoe is dropping.

No word on how many people are being indicted. Since the indictments are going to be sealed, I'm not sure how much we will really know tomorrow other than names and charges. We may have to wait until Fitzgerald holds his press conference on Thursday.

Meanwhile CNN released a poll saying only 10% of the nation believe members of the Bush administration did nothing illegal or unethical in the CIA leak case. Here are the details on that story:

Poll: Few doubt wrongdoing in CIA leak

Tuesday, October 25, 2005; Posted: 8:10 p.m. EDT (00:10 GMT)

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

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

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

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

God, what a week. Indictments set to be handed up, Bush's poll numbers are already rock-bottom in the high 30's and a new Gallup poll says 90% of America believes members of the administration acted either illegally or unethically in the CIA leak case.

And that's before the possible entanglement of Vice Preznit Cheney's in the indictment mix in the next couple of days.

Cheney Told Libby About Valerie Plame First

Sounds like Lewis "Scooter" libby is a bit uneasy about the Bushies hanging Plamegate on him and we're getting some pushback from his side today in the NY Times:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24 - I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, first learned about the C.I.A. officer at the heart of the leak investigation in a conversation with Mr. Cheney weeks before her identity became public in 2003, lawyers involved in the case said Monday.

Notes of the previously undisclosed conversation between Mr. Libby and Mr. Cheney on June 12, 2003, appear to differ from Mr. Libby's testimony to a federal grand jury that he initially learned about the C.I.A. officer, Valerie Wilson, from journalists, the lawyers said.

The notes, taken by Mr. Libby during the conversation, for the first time place Mr. Cheney in the middle of an effort by the White House to learn about Ms. Wilson's husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, who was questioning the administration's handling of intelligence about Iraq's nuclear program to justify the war.

Lawyers involved in the case, who described the notes to The New York Times, said they showed that Mr. Cheney knew that Ms. Wilson worked at the C.I.A. more than a month before her identity was made public and her undercover status was disclosed in a syndicated column by Robert D. Novak on July 14, 2003.

Mr. Libby's notes indicate that Mr. Cheney had gotten his information about Ms. Wilson from George J. Tenet, the director of central intelligence, in response to questions from the vice president about Mr. Wilson. But they contain no suggestion that either Mr. Cheney or Mr. Libby knew at the time of Ms. Wilson's undercover status or that her identity was classified. Disclosing a covert agent's identity can be a crime, but only if the person who discloses it knows the agent's undercover status.

It would not be illegal for either Mr. Cheney or Mr. Libby, both of whom are presumably cleared to know the government's deepest secrets, to discuss a C.I.A. officer or her link to a critic of the administration. But any effort by Mr. Libby to steer investigators away from his conversation with Mr. Cheney could be considered by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special counsel in the case, to be an illegal effort to impede the inquiry.

White House officials did not respond to requests for comment, and Mr. Libby's lawyer, Joseph Tate, would not comment on Mr. Libby's legal status. Randall Samborn, a spokesman for Mr. Fitzgerald, declined to comment on the case.

Mr. Fitzgerald is expected to decide whether to bring charges in the case by Friday, when the term of the grand jury expires. Mr. Libby and Karl Rove, President Bush's senior adviser, both face the possibility of indictment, lawyers involved in the case have said. It is not publicly known whether other officials also face indictment.

The notes help explain the legal difficulties facing Mr. Libby. Lawyers in the case said Mr. Libby testified to the grand jury that he had first heard from journalists that Ms. Wilson may have had a role in dispatching her husband on a C.I.A.-sponsored mission to Africa in 2002 in search of evidence that Iraq had acquired nuclear material there for its weapons program.

But the notes, now in Mr. Fitzgerald's possession, also indicate that Mr. Libby first heard about Ms. Wilson - who is also known by her maiden name, Valerie Plame - from Mr. Cheney. That apparent discrepancy in his testimony suggests why prosecutors are weighing false statement charges against him in what they interpret as an effort by Mr. Libby to protect Mr. Cheney from scrutiny, the lawyers said.

It is not clear why Mr. Libby would have suggested to the grand jury that he might have learned about Ms. Wilson from journalists if he was aware that Mr. Fitzgerald had obtained the notes of the conversation with Mr. Cheney or might do so. At the beginning of the investigation, Mr. Bush pledged the White House's full cooperation and instructed aides to provide Mr. Fitzgerald with any information he sought.

The notes do not show that Mr. Cheney knew the name of Mr. Wilson's wife. But they do show that Mr. Cheney did know and told Mr. Libby that Ms. Wilson was employed by the Central Intelligence Agency and that she may have helped arrange her husband's trip.

Some lawyers in the case have said Mr. Fitzgerald may face obstacles in bringing a false-statement charge against Mr. Libby. They said it could be difficult to prove that he intentionally sought to mislead the grand jury.

Lawyers involved in the case said they had no indication that Mr. Fitzgerald was considering charging Mr. Cheney with wrongdoing. Mr. Cheney was interviewed under oath by Mr. Fitzgerald last year. It is not known what the vice president told Mr. Fitzgerald about the conversation with Mr. Libby or when Mr. Fitzgerald first learned of it.

But the evidence of Mr. Cheney's direct involvement in the effort to learn more about Mr. Wilson is sure to intensify the political pressure on the White House in a week of high anxiety among Republicans about the potential for the case to deal a sharp blow to Mr. Bush's presidency.

Couple of things here:

1. Libby is done for unless he turns evidence and drops a dime on Cheney. No matter what Libby's lawyers whispers off the record about Fitzgerald having a hard time proving false statement charges against Libby, it is increasingly clear that the special prosecutor does have the goods on Libby.

2. Cheney may not have committed a crime by handing the information about Joe Wilson's wife to Scooter Libby and asking him to run with it, but it sure does take away his plausible deniability defense that he knew nothing about the leak.

3. If Bush was unaware that Cheney was ordering the political payback against the Wilsons, he looks incompetent and inconsequential. If he was aware of the smear campaign, he lied when he told the American people in September 2003 that he didn't know if anyone in his administration had been involved in the leak but that he had ordered everyone to cooperate.

We'll know soon enough. It sounds like Thursday or Friday is Fitzmas.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Daily News: Bush Is Blaming Everybody But Himself For His Troubles

Check out this dry-drunk megalomania behavior Bush is engaging in (via Thomas DeFrank at The Daily News:

Bushies feeling
the boss' wrath
Monday, October 24th, 2005

WASHINGTON - Facing the darkest days of his presidency, President Bush is frustrated, sometimes angry and even bitter, his associates say.

With a seemingly uncontrollable insurgency in Iraq, the White House is bracing for the political fallout from a grim milestone that could come any day: the combat death of the 2,000th American G.I.

Last week alone, 23 military personnel were killed in Iraq, and five were wounded yesterday in a relentless series of attacks across the country.

This week could also bring a special prosecutor's decision that could shake the foundations of the Bush government.

The President's top political guru, Karl Rove, and Vice President Cheney's right-hand man, Lewis (Scooter) Libby, are at the center of a two-year criminal probe into the leak of a CIA agent's identity. Many Bush staffers believe indictments are likely.

"He's like the lion in winter," observed a political friend of Bush. "He's frustrated. He remains quite confident in the decisions he has made. But this is a guy who wanted to do big things in a second term. Given his nature, there's no way he'd be happy about the way things have gone."

Bush usually reserves his celebrated temper for senior aides because he knows they can take it. Lately, however, some junior staffers have also faced the boss' wrath.

"This is not some manager at McDonald's chewing out the help," said a source with close ties to the White House when told about these outbursts. "This is the President of the United States, and it's not a pleasant sight."

The specter of losing Rove, his only truly irreplaceable assistant, lies at the heart of Bush's distress. But a string of political reversals, including growing opposition to the Iraq war, Hurricane Katrina's aftermath and Harriet Miers' bungled Supreme Court nomination, have also exacted a personal toll.

Presidential advisers and friends say Bush is a mass of contradictions: cheerful and serene, peevish and melancholy, occasionally lapsing into what he once derided as the "blame game." They describe him as beset but unbowed, convinced that history will vindicate the major decisions of his presidency even if they damage him and his party in the 2006 and 2008 elections.

At the same time, these sources say Bush, who has a long history of keeping staffers in their place, has lashed out at aides as his political woes have mounted.

"The President is just unhappy in general and casting blame all about," said one Bush insider. "Andy [Card, the chief of staff] gets his share. Karl gets his share. Even Cheney gets his share. And the press gets a big share."

The vice president remains Bush's most trusted political confidant. Even so, the Daily News has learned Bush has told associates Cheney was overly involved in intelligence issues in the runup to the Iraq war that have been seized on by Bush critics.

Bush is so dismayed that "the only person escaping blame is the President himself," said a sympathetic official, who delicately termed such self-exoneration "illogical."

A second senior Bush loyalist disagreed, saying Bush knows "some of these things are self-inflicted," like the Miers nomination, where Bush jettisoned contrary advice from his advisers and appointed his longtime personal lawyer.

"He must know that the way he did that, relying on his own judgment and instinct, was not good," another key adviser said.

Despite the turmoil, Bush is determined to soldier on, already preparing for two major overseas trips in November and helping shape next year's legislative agenda.

"I've got a job to do," he told reporters last week. "The American people expect me to do my job, and I'm going to."

Not my fault!!! I'm the best!!! It's Cheney's fault!!! Karl, why the fuck did you let me pick Harriet, eh? Bartlett, you fucked up that Pentagon PR thingy!!! NOT MY FAULT!!! NOT MY FAULT!!! Scowcroft is full of shit!!! Powell is full of shit!!! NOT MY FAULT!!! NOT MY FAULT!!!


That's our preznit. Remember, Katrina, Iraq mess, CIA leak case, budget and trade deficits - they're not his fault.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Fitzmas is Coming

The lawyers involved in the CIA leak case expect indictments as early as Monday or Tuesday. Here's the story from Reuters:

Lawyers see charges this week in CIA-leak case
Sun Oct 23, 2005 4:13 PM ET

By Adam Entous

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald appears to be laying the groundwork for indictments this week over the outing of a covert CIA operative, including possible charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, lawyers and other sources involved in case said on Sunday.

In a preview of how Republicans would counter charges against top administration officials by Fitzgerald, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas brushed aside an indictment for perjury -- rather than for the underlying crime of outing a covert operative -- as a "technicality."

Speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press" she suggested Fitzgerald may merely be trying to show that "two years' of investigation was not a waste of time and dollars."

Fitzgerald's investigation has focused largely on Karl Rove, President George W. Bush's top political adviser, and Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, and their conversations about CIA operative Valerie Plame with reporters in June and July of 2003.

Fitzgerald is expected to give final notice to officials facing charges as early as Monday and may convene the grand jury on Tuesday, a day earlier than usual, to deliver a summary of the case and ask for approval of the possible indictments, legal sources said. The grand jury is to expire on Friday unless Fitzgerald extends it.

Fitzgerald could still determine that there was insufficient evidence to bring charges, but the lawyers said that appeared increasingly unlikely.

The White House initially denied that Rove and Libby were involved in any way in the leak.


Asked whether he was taking part in a final round of discussions with the prosecutor's office, Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, said: "I'm just not going to comment on any possible interactions with Fitzgerald."

Lawyers involved in the case said Fitzgerald has been focusing on whether Rove, Libby and others may have tried to conceal their involvement from investigators.

While Fitzgerald could still charge administration officials with knowingly revealing Plame's identity, the lawyers said he appeared more likely to seek charges for easier-to-prove crimes such as making false statements, obstruction of justice and disclosing classified information. Fitzgerald could also bring a broad conspiracy charge.


Fitzgerald has sent several signals in recent days that he is likely to bring indictments in the case, lawyers say.

One of the first postings on a new official Web site for the investigation was a February 6, 2004, letter giving Fitzgerald explicit authority to investigate and prosecute "federal crimes committed in the course of, and with intent to interfere with, your investigation, such as perjury, obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence, and intimidation of witnesses." The Web site was available at

Indictments against top officials would be a severe blow to an administration already at a low point in public opinion, and would put a spotlight on aggressive tactics used by the White House to counter critics of its Iraq policy.

Legal sources said Rove could be in legal jeopardy for initially not telling the grand jury he talked to Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper about Plame.

Libby could be open to false statement and obstruction charges because of contradictions between his testimony and that of Miller and other journalists.

Miller has also come under increasingly sharp criticism by editors and reporters in the pages of her own newspaper over her conduct. Times Ombudsman Byron Calame wrote Sunday: "the problems facing her inside and outside the newsroom will make it difficult for her to return to the paper as a reporter."

Much of the news in this case this week seemed to suggest that Scooter Libby was being made the fall guy for the White House. Some people, including Jeralyn Merritt at Talkleft, think Karl Rove is looking to cop a plea to a lesser charge (thus Rove's lawyer refusing to "comment on any interactions with Fitzgerald") or may have already copped a plea. Rumor is still swirling around some lesser names in the vice preznit's office, like John Hannah and David Wurmser (both are rumored to be cooperating with Fitzgerald on the investigation) and the vice preznit's name comes up a lot too.

As for my expectations, I'm hoping Fitzgerald nails both Rove and Libby to the wall. If Cheney is named an unindicted co-conspirator, that would be even better. If they go on the treason charge or the espionage charge, great. If they go on perjury, false statements and/or obstruction charges, that's fine too (no matter what the RNC pushback is, Americans know lying to federal prosecutors in order to cover up a possible crime is a crime.)

My dream Fitzmas present is a big conspiracy charge that takes out Rove, Libby, Cheney et al. But I'm not really expecting that. I think the smart money says Libby definitely, Rove probably, and everything else is up in the air.

Oh boy, I haven't been this excited since I was six years old and asking Santa for the Planet of the Apes Treehouse and new skates

Ahh, memories.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

NY Times Blames "Teacher Quality" For Shitty Test Scores

Just like the wankers at the Times editorial page to pull their heads out of Judy Miller's ass just long enough to blame teachers for the poor test score results released this week. Here's the editorial:

Happy Talk on School Reform

The Bush administration responded characteristically this week when it put a positive gloss on national math and reading scores that were actually dismal - and bad news for the school reform effort. Faced with charges that his signature reform, the No Child Left Behind Act, was failing, the president played up the minor positive results. He should have seized the moment to acknowledge the bad news and explain what it would take to make things right.

He should also, of course, have reminded the nation that as long as it fails to take school reform seriously, American children will fall further and further behind their peers abroad.

The fourth grade reading scores on this year's National Assessment of Educational Progress were basically flat compared with 2003, even though the states are supposed to be ramping up student achievement and narrowing the achievement gap between poor and wealthy students. Fourth graders' math performance was also a clear disappointment, at a time when the country hopes to catch up with the international competition in science.

Critics of No Child Left Behind were quick to pounce, arguing that student progress was more impressive, by some measures, before the law kicked in. The truth is less depressing, but still extremely daunting. No Child Left Behind has reached that perilous interim phase that all reforms must eventually pass through if they are to survive. It has reaped the easy gains that were achieved by merely paying more attention to the problem. The next level of progress will require deeper systemic change, especially in the realm of teacher quality.

Most states have avoided this core issue and simply opted for repackaging a deeply inadequate teacher corps. Real reform will require better teacher training and higher teacher qualifications, which will in turn mean cracking the whip on teachers' colleges that have basically ignored the standards movement. The federal government was supposed to confront this issue head-on, but has tiptoed around it for several years. This week's test scores are not the end of reform. But they could well spell the beginning of a downward spiral unless Congress, federal officials and the states all pull together to move the country out of this trough and onto higher ground. That will mean hard work and more money - and a direct confrontation with the politically explosive issue of teacher preparedness. Happy talk won't get it done.

Here's my response in the form of a letter to the editor:

In your editorial entitled "Happy Talk on School Reform," you blame teacher quality for the dismal state of education today.

You ALWAYS blame teacher quality whenever there is negative news regarding education, test scores, graduation rates, etc.

You NEVER give parents or students some of the blame for the problems in the public education system today.

Why is that?

Do you think teachers, who toil with 170 students (soon to be 180 after the new UFT contract is ratified) in old, broken-down buildings that are 100 degrees in winter (from the boiler) and spring, fall, and summer (from the warmer weather outside) using broken-down computers and antiquated books and academic materials, are COMPLETELY TO BLAME for the poor test score progress?

Might the parents, who often are working two or more jobs to make ends meets and cannot spend time helping their kids with their schoolwork, bear some of the responsibility for the dismal state of public education?

Might the kids, many of whom will proudly tell you they have never read a book, intend to never read a book, and don't have to read a book because "That is mad old, mister," bear some of the responsibility for the dismal state of public education?

I really wish you pontificating know-it-alls would get out of your carpeted, air-conditioned offices and come see what conditions we teachers deal with EVERY DAY in the public education system before you blamed teachers for all of the problems in schools today.

I also wish you would put your money where your mouths are and come and teach for a year in a public school. We could give you a nice, broken-down classroom with mold on the ceiling and holes in the floor and rats/mice/roaches in your closet with a nice, broken-down computer to grade your 170/180 kids on while you're sweating in the 100 degree heat and humidty the boiler sends through the building in December and January.

But you won't put your money where your mouths are. You're too busy writing "Free Judy Miller" editorials in your air-conditioned, carpeted offices and ignoring the real problems in public education today: class size, physical environments, adequate and updated educational materials, and teachers who are commensurately compensated for their jobs and education levels (thus helping to attract and retain the best teachers.)

Not to mention that the emphasis on high-stakes testing in the last ten years has brought us a "teach to the test" public education system that neither educates nor prepares kids for the future, whether the mandates are coming from the federal level or from city hall.

It's so easy to point fingers at teacher quality while you're writing from the comfort of your ivory tower office on West 43rd Street.

But you rarely see these media finger-pointers quitting their ivory tower jobs to come join the "noble teaching profession."

Nope. That would take hard work, dedication and sweat, not to mention a significant pay cut.

They'd rather take the easy way out and blame teacher quality.


Friday, October 21, 2005

Fitzgerald Tells Rove and Libby They Are In Serious Legal Jeopardy

Fitzmas is coming!!!

David Johnston at the NY Times reports today that CIA leak case special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is considering perjury, false statement, and/or obstruction charges against Karl Rove and Scooter Libby. Here's the scoop:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 20 - As he weighs whether to bring criminal charges in the C.I.A. leak case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special counsel, is focusing on whether Karl Rove, the senior White House adviser, and I. Lewis Libby Jr., chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, sought to conceal their actions and mislead prosecutors, lawyers involved in the case said Thursday.

Among the charges that Mr. Fitzgerald is considering are perjury, obstruction of justice and false statement - counts that suggest the prosecutor may believe the evidence presented in a 22-month grand jury inquiry shows that the two White House aides sought to cover up their actions, the lawyers said.

Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby have been advised that they may be in serious legal jeopardy, the lawyers said, but only this week has Mr. Fitzgerald begun to narrow the possible charges. The prosecutor has said he will not make up his mind about any charges until next week, government officials say.


The possible violations under consideration by Mr. Fitzgerald are peripheral to the issue he was appointed in December 2003 to investigate: whether anyone in the administration broke a federal law that makes it a crime, under certain circumstances, to reveal the identity of a covert intelligence officer.

But Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby may not be the only people at risk. There may be others in the government who could be charged for violations of the disclosure law or of other statutes, like the espionage act, which makes it a crime to transmit classified information to people not authorized to receive it.

It is still not publicly known who first told the columnist Robert D. Novak the identity of the C.I.A. officer, Valerie Wilson. Mr. Novak identified her in a column on July 14, 2003, using her maiden name, Valerie Plame. Mr. Fitzgerald knows the identity of this source, a person who is not believed to work at the White House, the lawyers said.

The accounts given by Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby about their conversations with reporters have been under investigation almost from the start. According to lawyers in the case, the prosecutor has examined how each man learned of Ms. Wilson, and questioned them in grand jury appearances about their conversations with reporters, how they learned Ms. Wilson's name and her C.I.A. employment and whether the discussions were part of an effort to undermine the credibility of her husband, a former ambassador, Joseph C. Wilson IV.

Meanwhile Jim VandeiHei and Peter Baker at the Washington Post report that the White House is getting ready for the post-Rove phase of the administration while the preznit is having a tough time admitting there are any problems with his presidency:

At 7:30 each morning, President Bush's senior staff gathers to discuss the important issues of the day -- Middle East peace, the Harriet Miers nomination, the latest hurricane bearing down on the coast. Everything, that is, except the issue on everyone's mind.

With special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald driving his CIA leak investigation toward an apparent conclusion, the White House now confronts the looming prospect that no one in the building is eager to address: a Bush presidency without Karl Rove. In a capital consumed by scandal speculation, most White House senior officials are no more privy than outsiders to the prosecutor's intentions. But the surreal silence in the Roosevelt Room each morning belies the nervous discussions racing elsewhere around the West Wing.

Out of the hushed hallway encounters and one-on-one conversations, several scenarios have begun to emerge if Rove or vice presidential chief of staff I. Lewis Libby is indicted and forced out. Senior GOP officials are developing a public relations strategy to defend those accused of crimes and, more importantly, shield Bush from further damage, according to Republicans familiar with the plans. And to help steady a shaken White House, they say, the president might bring in trusted advisers such as budget director Joshua B. Bolten, lobbyist Ed Gillespie or party chairman Ken Mehlman.

These tentative discussions come at a time when White House senior officials are exploring staff changes to address broader structural problems that have bedeviled Bush's second term, according to Republicans who said they could speak candidly about internal deliberations only if they are not named. But it remains unclear whether Bush agrees that changes are needed and the uncertainty has unsettled his team.

"People are very demoralized and unhappy," a former administration official said. "The leak investigation is [part of it], but things were not happy before this took preeminence. It's just been a rough year. A lot has gotten done, but nothing is easy."


For a president and a White House accustomed to controlling their political circumstances in a one-party town, the culmination of the leak investigation represents another in a string of events beyond their grasp. Like Hurricane Katrina, the Iraq war and rising gasoline prices, there is little at the moment that Bush strategists can do to alter the political equation.

But the road that led them to this moment is paved with potholes that Bush aides privately concede they could have avoided, and many Republicans are examining the situation for deeper issues to address. From the failed effort to restructure Social Security to the uproar over the Miers nomination to the Supreme Court, Bush's second-term operation has been far more prone to mistakes than his first.

In the view of many Republicans, fatigue may be one factor affecting the once smooth-running White House. Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. gets up each day at 4:20 a.m., arrives at his office a little over an hour later, gets home between 8:30 and 9 p.m. and often still takes calls after that; he has been in his pressure-cooker job since Bush was inaugurated, longer than any chief of staff in decades. "He looks totally burned out," a Republican strategist said.

Others, including Rove, Bolten, counselor Dan Bartlett, senior adviser Michael J. Gerson and press secretary Scott McClellan, have been running at full tilt since 1999, when the Bush team began gearing up in Austin for the first campaign.

At the same time, the innermost circle has shrunk in the second term, mainly to Vice President Cheney, Card, Rove, Bartlett, Libby and, on foreign policy issues, national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley. Aides who joined the White House staff after last year's reelection, such as communications director Nicolle Devenish (who now goes by her married name, Nicolle Wallace), domestic policy adviser Claude Allen and political director Sara Taylor, have brought fresh perspectives and earned Bush's trust but do not share the long history with him that he values.

Many allies blame the insularity of his team for recent missteps, such as the Miers nomination. Even some sympathetic to her believe the vetting process broke down because as White House counsel she was so well known to the president that skeptical questions were not asked.

Some GOP officials outside the White House say they believe the president rejects the idea that there is anything fundamentally wrong with his presidency; others express concern that Bush has strayed so far from where he intended to be that it may require drastic action.

At the heart of all those discussions is Rove. With the deceptive title of deputy chief of staff, Rove runs much of the White House, including its guiding political strategy and many of its central policy initiatives. "Karl is the central nervous system right now, and that's obviously a big thing -- not only politically, but now he's in that big policy job," a former White House official said.

At the White House and among its close allies, discussion about Rove's fate is verboten -- in part out of fear and in part out of ignorance about what his legal vulnerability actually is. No one in the White House wants to talk about an indictment. As another former official said, "No one wants to believe anything's going to happen." Nor do people easily discuss other staff changes. "Anyone who talks about that kind of stuff should be shot," said a third Republican with close ties to the White House.

But, this Republican noted, "I am sure Karl and the president talk about it." And the assumption is Rove could not stay if indicted.

Without Rove, Bush likely would need more than one person to take his place, according to people close to the White House. Bolten, who served as deputy chief of staff in the first term and now heads the Office of Management and Budget, is widely deemed a savvy policy master who could assume a broader role. Gillespie, who shepherded the confirmation of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and advises Miers, had hoped to extricate himself even from this assignment, but colleagues said he would be a logical person to bring in for political strategy.

Mehlman, who was White House political director before becoming chairman of the Republican National Committee, has been a key adviser, although some colleagues worry that bringing in the party chief might send too political a message. Some close to the White House suggest Clay Johnson III, the deputy budget director who was Bush's chief of staff in the Texas governor's office, could be part of a reconstituted team. Attention has also focused on former White House counselor Karen P. Hughes, but she was just confirmed by the Senate as undersecretary of state and seems unlikely to leave.

Some strategists said Bush could accommodate the loss if he had to. "When Karen Hughes left, a lot of people said she's indispensable and impossible to replace and it might hurt the president in an election year," said Charles R. Black, a GOP lobbyist who advises the White House. "But Dan Bartlett and others stepped up, and no one missed a beat."

Mehlman said the president's problems would eventually be overshadowed by his broader agenda. "It's a mistake to allow the political headline of the moment to obscure the overall progress being made on a lot of important fronts," he said. "We're about to have a big debate about taxing and spending. Those are debates where we historically have done well and will this time."

Another former administration official said the key to the future for the White House will be restoring unity within the party. "Everyone in the Republican Party needs to figure out how to stick together and get things done in a constructive manner," he said. "That hides all sorts of fault lines."

So it comes down to this: can the preznit admit the administration has lost its way and bring in new blood to reorganize and revitalize the White House or will he stick with the people around him he already trusts, like Dan Bartlett and Ken Melhman, to run things after Rove gets perp-walked out of the administration?

Judging from past history, the preznit cannot admit mistakes or problems.

I suspect he will not want to bring in new blood into the administration and will stick with his cronies and current confidantes.

Which means he will not be able to turn this sinking ship around the way Reagan was able to after Iran-Contra.

He still has a chance to right his presidency. But I think this dry srunk is just too flawed a man to seize this opportunity.

But as they say on FOX, "only time will tell..."

Thursday, October 20, 2005

When Did The Preznit Know Rove And Libby Were Involved In CIA Leak Case

Did Preznit Bush have a "I did not have sex with that woman" moment when he told America in 2003 that he didn't know who in his administration had been involved in leaking a covert CIA operative's name to the press? Here's the Daily News on that tantalizing tale:

Fess up on leak, Chuck prods Bush
Thursday, October 20th, 2005

WASHINGTON - Sen. Chuck Schumer yesterday urged President Bush to come clean on what and when he knew about political guru Karl Rove's involvement in the outing of CIA spy Valerie Plame.

Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, meanwhile, is combing over testimony by John Hannah and David Wurmser, national security aides to Vice President Cheney who sources questioned under oath say may be the key to the probe.

Citing yesterday's Daily News story detailing Bush's angry 2003 outburst, Schumer requested particulars of that heated discussion about Rove's role in the CIA leaks. "It seems you may have been angry that White House officials were caught, not that they had compromised national security," Schumer wrote in a letter to Bush. Schumer also questioned why Bush didn't suspend Rove's top secret security clearance if he was aware his senior aide had a role in the Plame affair.

Bush spokesman Scott McClellan said he wasn't aware of the letter, but he still lashed out. "The last thing that we need to do is politicize an ongoing investigation," he said.

Schumer's letter was sent as Democrats elsewhere jumped all over Bush, perhaps suspecting the President knows more about the leak than he or Rove may have told Fitzgerald.

"We're looking at the time line," said a top Senate Democratic strategist. "The same month Bush reprimands Rove, he tells the American people he doesn't know whether anybody in the White House was involved, and now we learn otherwise."

On Sept. 30, 2003 - the same month Bush rebuked Rove - the President said, "I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information."

McClellan originally questioned the accuracy of The News' story but later said he couldn't comment because the leak probe is ongoing.

Meanwhile, Plame and her husband, Joseph Wilson, are considering a civil suit that could force Bush, Rove and Cheney to testify. Wilson asserts that his wife was outed to get back at him for debunking claims that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was shopping for nuclear materials in Niger.

This story gets better and better.

If Preznit Bush was lying to the American people when he told them "I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information," the final piece of his straight-shooting persona will crumble to rubble.

Bush, judging by his plummeting poll numbers, doesn't have much credibility now with most of the American people.

He really will be exposed as a lying, conniving weasel if it turns out he knew Rove, Libby, Cheney et al were involved in the leak campaign.

Obviously early on when the investigation was still being run by Attorney General Ashcroft, everybody in the administration, including George Bush, figured "Cover those boobs" Ashcroft would make the problem go away. I don't think they ever expected to get a tenacious investigator like Patrick Fitzgerald chasing down all of the angles.

Now the lies are all coming out.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Rumors, Rumors, Rumors

Wow, D.C. seems in near hysteria over the impending end of the CIA leak case. First US News and World Report:

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

"It's certainly an interesting but I still think highly doubtful scenario," said a Bush insider. "And if that should happen," added the official, "there will undoubtedly be those who believe the whole thing was orchestrated – another brilliant Machiavellian move by the VP."

Said another Bush associate of the rumor, "Yes. This is not good." The rumor spread so fast that some Republicans by late morning were already drawing up reasons why Rice couldn't get the job or run for president in 2008.

"Isn't she pro-choice?" asked a key Senate Republican aide. Many White House insiders, however, said the Post story and reports that the investigation was coming to a close had officials instead more focused on who would be dragged into the affair and if top aides would be indicted and forced to resign.

"Folks on the inside and near inside are holding their breath and wondering what's next," said a Bush adviser. But, he added, they aren't focused on the future of the vice president. "Not that, at least not seriously," he said.

Next up is the rumor that John Hannah is reportedly the administration official who is cooperating with special prosecution Fitzgerald:

A senior aide to Vice President Dick Cheney is cooperating with special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald in the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson, sources close to the investigation say.

Individuals familiar with Fitzgerald’s case tell RAW STORY that John Hannah, a senior national security aide on loan to Vice President Dick Cheney from the offices of then-Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, John Bolton, was named as a target of Fitzgerald’s probe. They say he was told in recent weeks that he could face imminent indictment for his role in leaking Plame-Wilson’s name to reporters unless he cooperated with the investigation.

Others close to the probe say that if Hannah is cooperating with the special prosecutor then he was likely going to be charged as a co-conspirator and may have cut a deal.

Then there's this rumor via Larry Johnson, former CIA operative and colleague of Valerie Plame, on his blog:

Had lunch today with a person who has a direct tie to one of the folks facing indictment in the Plame affair. There are 22 files that Fitzgerald is looking at for potential indictment . These include Stephen Hadley, Karl Rove, Lewis Libby, Dick Cheney, and Mary Matalin (there are others of course). Hadley has told friends he expects to be indicted. No wonder folks are nervous at the White House.

This is insane. One blogger over at the is calling the impending indictment day Fitzmas and he has even posted some suggestions for liberals who are getting overexcited on Fitzmas Eve waiting for the real day to arrive:


10. Put down the caffeine: For the next 48 hours, cleanse your body of java, aspartame, splenda, and whatever other shit you've been putting in your system. Your body will be producing more adrenaline during Fitzmas than it did when you were a hormone-crazed teenager, so don't fuel the fire.

9. "Refresh" is the AntiChrist: Resist the urge to press "refresh" every TWO SECONDS. Checking into Drudge every minute won't make any indictments come any'll just give him hits and make Drudge's head swell even more. Eww. I put "Drudge" and "swell" and "head" in the same sentence. I just grossed myself out.

8. Gossip Folks: Don't believe anything in the next 24-48 hours. Guess what!! I can report on my blog that Condi will be VP when Dick resigns...and because it's on a blog, it must be true! And my scoop will fly through the internets at twice the speed of sound and I'll be so convincing, Condi herself will hear my scoop and think "Shit. I need new shoes!" and next thing you know New York Daily News will be reporting that Condi was in NY shopping for Jimmy Choo shoes that look "Vice-Presidential" and Teresa Heinz passed her by and called her a "bitch." Get my point?

7. Turn off the TV: Why submit yourself to the torture of watching The Situation Room and listening to Wolf's "I'm-reading-a-script-but-I'm-trying-to-make-it-sound-live" voice in the hopes that some pundit will throw out something like "Rove will be indicted"? You all KNOW that the talking heads don't know shit, and that their dirty little secret is that they really get their info from the, gasp!, blogs, so why waste your time? So, Kristol says Rove and Libby will be indicted. Um...99% of the pajamajadeen have said the same thing for the last couple months. Give your blood pressure a break and turn off the TV.

6. Don't listen to Tip #7: Well, do turn off the TV, but turn it on for Scotty's press conferences. Nothing eases the nerves and apprehension of indictments than watching Puffy McMoonface squirm as he fends off a resuccitated press corps. With Scotty spinning so fast, you KNOW there's some serious shit going down.

5. Don't take off of work tomorrow: Yes, there are some of you who would actually skip work or school to stay home and catch the indictments breaking live. I've confessed to being a Plamegate junkie, but please. Those of you who view CSPAN as political porn need to put things into perspective. The indictments may not break tomorrow...and then what? You spent a whole day, one hand repeatedly refreshing dkos and drudge, the other hand holding a remote and flipping channels between CNN and MSNBC and, gulp, FOX, flipping and flipping and flipping and it'll all be for naught. So treat tomorrow just like any other day, use school and work as a distraction...and, um, did you hear blogging more than once a day can make you go blind?

4. Visit Freeperville: Watch the tension melt away as you read about how Wilson was the leaker, how Fitzgerald is really a closet Dem fucking Hillary at the Watergate hotel, and how Plame orchestrated all this just to get name recognition for 2008. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you might even throw up in your mouth a little bit. But it'll be a great distraction from the anticipation of Fitzmas.

3. Lower Your Expectations: Hey, it worked for Laura Bush. Don't expect too much from this. We don't know what was said in that grand jury room; about all we know definitively is that Karl Rove has a "typical" garage. Fantasies of Cheney being indicted and Bush as unindicted coconspirator are just that at this point--fantasies. Trust the Fitz to do what's right based on the evidence, and trust that the result will be as far as he was legally able to go.

2. Stockpile the Booze: Ok, you've lowered your expectations, but sheesh, don't be downer. No matter what comes down, these next couple of days will be explosive. So chill the Cristal (or the Guinness) and get ready. Also, compile a list of all the emails of your most die-hard GOP friends. Plan on sending them emails after the indictments, perferably after you've depleted your liquor reserves.

1. Enjoy the moment: Take a DEEP breath, and savor the fact that you're witnessing history being made. The outing of Plame was a vicious act, but nothing will be as sweet as watching justice being served.

I would be happy with Rove/Libby/Hadley indictments on perjury, false statements, conspiracy and/or obstruction charges for Fitzmas.

But I must say that my dream Fitzmas gift involves the vice preznit, a squad car, and a widely covered perp walk out of the White House.

Please, Fitz, can I can I can I?

Daily News: Secret Administration Official Cooperating With CIA Leak Probe

This news does change some of the CIA leak prognostications. From the New York Daily News:

Cheney may be target of probe


WASHINGTON - A special prosecutor's intensifying focus into who outed a CIA spy has raised questions whether Vice President Cheney himself is involved, knowledgeable sources confirmed yesterday.

At least one source and one reporter who have testified in the probe said U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald is pursuing Cheney's role in the Valerie Plame affair.

In addition, at least six current and former Cheney staffers - most members of the White House Iraq Group - have testified before the grand jury, including the vice president's top honcho, Lewis (Scooter) Libby, and two top Cheney national security lieutenants.

Cheney's name has come up amid indications Fitzgerald may be edging closer to a blockbuster conspiracy charge - with help from a secret snitch.

"They have got a senior cooperating witness - someone who is giving them all of that," a source who has been questioned in the leak probe told the Daily News yesterday.

Cheney was questioned last year byprosecutors and has hired a private attorney, former colleague Terrence O'Donnell, who declined to comment when contacted by The News.

Cheney spokeswoman Lea Anne McBride only offered the standard canned response that her boss is cooperating.

Libby and President Bush's political mastermind Karl Rove remain the focus of the probe into whether Plame's cover was blown in a scheme to embarrass her husband, ex-Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who debunked claims that Iraq tried to buy nuclear materials in Niger.

Libby is often described as "Cheney's Cheney," a loyal and discreet lieutenant who shares his boss's hard-line philosophy and bareknuckle attitude toward political enemies of the Bush administration.

Cheney and Libby spend hours together in the course of a day, which causes sources who know both men very well to assert that any attempts to discredit Wilson would almost certainly have been known to the vice president.

"Scooter wouldn't be freelancing on this without Cheney's knowledge," a source told the Daily News. "It was probably some off-the-cuff thing: 'This guy [Wilson] could be a problem.'"

A secret snitch might have some pretty concrete knowledge of conversations, meetings, and other devious White House behavior, especially the stuff taking place in Cheney's office.

That can't be good for Cheney if the vice preznit is as "hands-on" a guy about these kinds of things as we think he is.

Cheney has testified at least once before federal prosecutors that we know of. All of this news breaking lately about Fitzgerald targeting Cheney makes you wonder if the special prosecutor hasn't had the vice preznit testify under oath at some other time in the investigation that we don't know about.

Especially if a secret snitch has given the special prosecutor some damaging testimony about Cheney.

Regardless , the stories on the CIA leak case in the last three days are all starting to sound pretty ominous for the Bush administration.

A spokesman for Fitzgerald announced yesterday that whether indictments are handed up in the case or not, all announcements will be made in Washington D.C., not Chicago where Fitzgerald is U.S. attorney.

That news in and of itself was read as ominous by many on the blogs, the theory being that Fitzgerald is making the case announcements in D.C. because he is handing up indictments.

Oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy!!!

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