Debkafile: Zarqawi Is Exporting Terror from Iraq

If you haven't heard of Debkafile, they're a web-based Israeli news organization run by a couple of (former?) reporters for the Economist. They have a weekly news summary to which (apparently) a lot of companies subscribe so they'll get a heads-up on matters of security. I heard about them on the radio show Marketplace in 2002 and started listening to them to see how accurate they were.

Now I didn't keep records of their supposed scoops and goofs, but my impression during the Iraq war was that they scooped major media about half the time, and the other half they fell for some of the most ridiculous Chalabi-type defector fantasies. (Saddam had a ginormous shark pool under a palace, there were mobile weapons labs--sound familiar?--buried beneath the dunes, and beneath Baghdad itself was a giant underground complex are just three examples.)

So recently they came out with a detailed report on the recent spate of bombings, from Syria to London to Sharm-El Sheikh. Given their track record, I can't say if it's true, but it reads like their scoops, not their goofs. If it's accurate, it explains a lot about the recent attacks and the ones that might come—and confirms what three think tanks have so far said, that invading Iraq has created lots of terrorists and given them a spectacular training ground. If it's not, so what? Worth keeping in mind, though.

The gist of their report is that Zarqawi's Al-Qaeda franchise is sending over 1000 foreign jihadis from Iraq to their home countries and then back to the West. According to Debkafile, we're already seeing the effects.
On July 15, DEBKA-Net-Weekly 214 reported that al Qaeda was diluting its Iraq force for a major terror offensive in Europe and Middle East engineered by Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and on its recommendation.

The countries targeted were named as Britain, Italy, France, Denmark, Russia – with the UK and Italy at the top of the list; and, In the Middle East, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Israel. Zarqawi in one recent release: Israel is in our sights – and very soon.
The car bombs blown up at Sharm el Sheikh bore Egyptian customs marks, indicating they were imported from outside Egypt. One fairly easy route would be the sea car ferry connecting Sharm el Sheikh to the Jordanian port of Aqaba.
The part of the article that quotes Debkafile's weekly newsletter has the best details about Zarqawi, Jordanian crime orginizations and a thrwarted major operation. After going over that, Debkafile turns to Iraq:
According to intelligence estimates, Zarqawi holds on to Anbar – a territory roughly the size of Texas - with a little more than 5,000 men, of whom roughly 1,000 are Saudi and Yemeni zealots, 300 Jordanian and an unknown number of Syrians, Moroccans and Palestinians. His firm grip on Anbar persuaded the al Qaeda hierarchy in Pakistan and Afghanistan that 1,000 men could be expended from other parts of Iraq and diverted to the new terror offensive outside Iraq.

In a message to his superiors, revealed here for the first time, Zarqawi offered his estimate that after three years of joint combat, Iraqi insurgents ought to be capable of running the guerrilla war against the Americans on their own. He therefore recommended reducing the terror organization’s involvement in Iraq to the minimum needed to retain its control and focus on preserving al Qaeda-Iraq’s grip on Anbar Province for use as a territorial base and springboard for attacks in other parts of the Middle East and Europe.

These attacks will aim at engulfing additional territories in the region and toppling regimes.

The onset of the new al Qaeda offensive in London, Syria, Jordan and now Egyptian Sinai, indicates that Zarqawi’s superiors gave him the go-ahead.
Read it here.


Another Plame Leak Revealed

A White House official planted the Plame smear with the Washington Post's Walter Pincus around the same time that or other officials were doing the same with other reporters, the New York Times' Douglas Jehl reports today. Pincus said that
"an administration official, who was talking to me confidentially about a matter involving alleged Iraqi nuclear activities, veered off the precise matter we were discussing and told me that the White House had not paid attention" to the trip to Niger by Joseph C. Wilson IV "because it was a boondoggle arranged by his wife, an analyst with the agency who was working on weapons of mass destruction."
Pincus wrote about the leak in October 2003, and (according to the article) it appears that the leaker was not Rove or Libby.


O'Reilly Terrorists

Bill O'Reilly never fails to deliver. On July 25, he debuted his latest "argument":
The ACLU is also demanding that more pictures of the abuse at Abu Ghraib be released. The Defense Department is fighting that. Everybody knows those pictures incite violence against Americans. So why should more of them be fed to the press? We already know what happened at Abu Ghraib, and people are going to prison because of it. Clearly, more pictures of Abu Ghraib help the terrorists, as do Geneva Convention protections and civilian lawyers. So there is no question the ACLU and the judges who side with them are terror allies.
(Emphasis nabbed from Media Matters.)

By that broad logic, doing anything that would "help the terrorists," even if it's a side effect of an action that helps American citizens, makes you a terror ally. If, for example, you reported on Abu Ghraib when the scandal first broke, you're a terror ally.

But why stop with egregious, terror-friendly acts like informing the public? All sorts of simple activities aid terrorists in custody. Like feeding them. Should we stop doing that? Are the soldiers that prepare and deliver their food "terror allies"?

I know it's not his main point, but O'Reilly doesn't understand that abandoning the "Geneva Convention protections" he thinks helps terrorists is what gave the administration the wiggle room it needed to use abusive interrogation techniques on prisoners in the first place. The abuse began in Afghanistan and at Guantánamo, where interrogators applied to terror suspects the same techniques applied to US special forces soldiers for training purposes, to harden them against torture if they're captured. (That includes blasphemy and tearing pages of the Bible, acts reminiscent of the Quran abuse observed at Guantanamo.)

When Major-General Geoffrey Miller, who introduced those techniques at Gitmo, was sent to Iraq, the techniques went with him. In Iraq, thanks to lack of training and discipline coupled with pressure to get actionable intelligence against the burgeoning insurgency, the abuse went even more out of control than most Americans realize—allegedly including the rape of minors whose shrieks can be heard on tape.

Not only did the Bush administration and some military personnel help terrorists by creating the conditions for the abuse at Abu Ghraib, they helped by investigating allegations of abuse and then talking about it in public.

This means that not only is Bill O'Reilly, who is against applying the Geneva Conventions to terror suspects, a terror ally, but so are President Bush, Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez and anyone else who supported such a move. According to O'Reilly's logic.

I'm sure O'Reilly doesn't realize this.

Early on in the Bush administration, when it became apparent that all the president did was deceive to push through an agenda that was wholly other than what he promised, I joined the ACLU because Bush One had used it as a red herring during his dirty campaign against Dukakis. O'Reilly's remark reminded me that my membership's up for renewal. I'll be sure to renew it now and even give them some extra money this year. Thanks, Bill.

DISCLAIMER: I'm not sure I want the rest of the Abu Ghraib photos, etc., to come out. Do I want to know what happened? Yes. Do I want the rest of the world to know? Not sure. But I want government transparency, and I'm going to choose it over the alternative—not that anyone's asking. And while I don't support everything the ACLU does, by and large I'm on their side.

UPDATE: In addition to the JAG lawyers you may've heard raised a fuss about the treatment of prisoners, add a few other military lawyers. We're sure they're just traitors in uniform. Unlike that brave Karl Rove, who corrected a false story he thought was true by outing a CIA agent working on WMD, which has nothing to do with national security.

Note to Bush: Don't Cross the CIA

Today's Washington Post article on the Plame investigation is a must-read. Not only does it put the investigation in the broader context of the administration misusing intelligence during the run-up to Gulf War II, but it also confirms that the Republican talking points are patently false regarding Joe Wilson, his wife's covert status and who arranged Wilson's trip to Niger.
...special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald has asked not only about how CIA operative Valerie Plame's name was leaked but also how the administration went about shifting responsibility from the White House to the CIA for having included 16 words in the 2003 State of the Union address about Iraqi efforts to acquire uranium from Africa, an assertion that was later disputed.
Bush officials attacked Wilson's credibility. They said that his 2002 trip to Niger was a boondoggle arranged by his wife, but CIA officials say that is incorrect. One reason for the confusion about Plame's role is that she had arranged a trip for him to Niger three years earlier on an unrelated matter, CIA officials told The Washington Post.
Harlow, the former CIA spokesman, said in an interview yesterday that he testified last year before a grand jury about conversations he had with Novak at least three days before the column was published. He said he warned Novak, in the strongest terms he was permitted to use without revealing classified information, that Wilson's wife had not authorized the mission and that if he did write about it, her name should not be revealed.

Harlow said that after Novak's call, he checked Plame's status and confirmed that she was an undercover operative. He said he called Novak back to repeat that the story Novak had related to him was wrong and that Plame's name should not be used. But he did not tell Novak directly that she was undercover because that was classified.
Harlow was also involved in the larger internal administration battle over who would be held responsible for Bush using the disputed charge about the Iraq-Niger connection as part of the war argument. Based on the questions they have been asked, people involved in the case believe that Fitzgerald looked into this bureaucratic fight because the effort to discredit Wilson was part of the larger campaign to distance Bush from the Niger controversy.

Wilson unleashed an attack on Bush's claim on July 6, 2003, appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press," in an interview in The Post and writing his own op-ed article in the New York Times, in which he accused the president of "twisting" intelligence.

Behind the scenes, the White House responded with twin attacks: one on Wilson and the other on the CIA, which it wanted to take the blame for allowing the 16 words to remain in Bush's speech. As part of this effort, then-deputy national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley spoke with Tenet during the week about clearing up CIA responsibility for the 16 words, even though both knew the agency did not think Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger, according to a person familiar with the conversation. Tenet was interviewed by prosecutors, but it is not clear whether he appeared before the grand jury, a former CIA official said.
Note: Chuck Schumer told The Buffalo News last Friday that Tenet "was furious" about the leak and demanded an investigation, which this week we learned was delayed for two months by John Ashcroft.
On July 9, Tenet and top aides began to draft a statement over two days that ultimately said it was "a mistake" for the CIA to have permitted the 16 words about uranium to remain in Bush's speech. He said the information "did not rise to the level of certainty which should be required for presidential speeches, and the CIA should have ensured that it was removed."
And for that, presumably, Bush awarded him the medal of freedom.

The White House abused the CIA before the war, dismantling the system painstakingly constructed during the Cold War to vet intelligence and instead stovepiping raw intelligence claims to Doug Feith, Bolton, Cheney and others. They then used the faulty intelligence that they believed was true as well as faulty intelligence that they knew was faulty, to convince Americans to go to war. When the intelligence was exposed as faulty, they blamed the CIA. Which isn't to say that the CIA didn't think Saddam had some WMD, just not a reconstituted nuke program and aerial drones. And by the way, Blix and the AIEA reported that before the invasion.

So if you're worried that the partially reanimated Washington press corpse isn't reporting on the Downing Street Memo, don't. Though it would help if they'd mention that those UK memos confirm what our journalists have reported, it'll suffice if they do what Walter Pincus and Jim VandeHei have done.

UPDATE: Josh Marshall has a similar take.


New! (Now with 50% More Ambiguity - Free!)

The New York Times reported today that the Bush administration is changing the slogan "war on terror"® to "global struggle against violent extremism."®

The new slogan sounds familiar:

ji·had also je·had (j-häd)
  1. A Muslim holy war or spiritual struggle against infidels.
  2. A crusade or struggle: "The war against smoking is turning into a jihad against people who smoke" (Fortune)
(Emphasis mine.)

BONUS: Slate's Fred Kaplan doesn't know whether to laugh or cry.

Smearing Larry Johnson

Counter-terrorism and ex-CIA operative Larry Johnson responds to the Republican asswipes who started questioning his credibility this week. (Via Crooks and Liars.)

If you don't know what I'm talking about, this is what happened. Last week, Larry Johnson and 10 other former intelligence officers delivered a letter to the Congressional leadership of both parties. The letter is essentially a defense of Valerie Plame and the assertion that she was a covert operative; it is highly critical of the leak that blew her cover. Johnson has been an outspoken critic of the administration in this affair.

So this week, Gary Schmidtt, the executive director of the neocon cult the Project for a New American Century, the group whose civilian members run the Pentagon, criticized Larry Johnson in The Weekly Standard, citing Johnson's July 2001 New York Times OpEd as demonstrating Johnson's "pre-9/11 mindset."

Unfortunately, Schmidtt either missed or was too incompetent to find Larry Johnson's post-9/11, pre-Iraq Invasion article, "Setting the Record Straight on Iraqi Terrorism." The article is one of the most detailed accounts of Saddam's terrorist ties that I've read, and in it Johnson notes that Al Qaeda's ties with Saddam are (surprise) tenuous at best. It warns that invading Iraq may galvanize Arab opinion against the United States, result in more terrorists and inspire an insurgency. Clearly, in 2003, Johnson's "pre-9/11 mindset" just couldn't cut it.

But the larger issue is the White House's approach to criticism. And I think it's woefully naive to think that Schmidtt isn't working with the White House on this.

Why respond to criticism when you can just smear the critic? That's Karl's M.O. Bill Kristol, The Weekly Standard's Editor, should be ashamed of himself and his Party, which has behaved abominably throughout the entire Plame affair. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?

Quo Vadis, Killer?

LNS reports that the blog Dylsexia's disappeared. We dearly miss its witty, neurotic, onion-hating author. Her last post (that I can find through Google caching) was June 20:
I wrote quite a bit, but the computer erased it.

The gist of it: I got a full-time job through patronage. It's quite good. I'll be working with JP and LG--namely, my best friend and boyfriend. The work involves coding grammars. This is new for me.

There is more of interest, but I shan't repeat it. Later, perhaps.

Off to meet LG so we can go home, sleep.
We hope everything's fine, Killer. If you read this, drop us a line.

Here's what's still cached (Google hackers might be able to find the rest of the blog; I don't know).


12 Hours? Try All Weekend

Seems Gonzalez and the White House had days, not hours, to clean up. But I'm sure they didn't take advantage of the time, because, after all, there was nothing to hide. (Via the War Room.)

Rove Connection of the Day

When you're trying to give yourself a little time to dispose of evidence, it's always nice if you're cozy with the people in charge of the impending investigation. In the case of the investigation into who leaked Valerie Plame's identity, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft generously granted then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzalez 12 hours before he had to inform the WH staff that they needed to preserve all documents relevant to the impending investigation. Gonzalez told Bob Schieffer yesterday that he told one person about the investigation: White House Chief of Staff Andrew "America Is Under Attack" Card, who was on Air Force One with the secret memo identifying Plame.

Now we're sure that, given this administration's plain talk and good-old-boy honesty, Andrew probably said, "Thanks for the heads-up, Al. Best get a good night's sleep and tackle this in the morning." To which Al probably replied, "Yeah, we've got a long day ahead of us tomorrow, with all that preserving we've got to do. Just keep it under your hat till then. We don't want anybody destroying documents or anything."

We're sure that it wasn't till the next morning that Andrew Card informed Karl Rove of the need to preserve all documentation pertaining to the investigation. After all, Karl Rove probably didn't have anything to do with the original leak to one or more reporters, and as a man with the "highest standards of conduct," he would never influence the one "in charge of the investigation," namely, Attorney General Ashcroft, whose campaigns he'd worked on and whose present job he helped to get.


You Know I Love You, Baby

When CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson's cover was blown, then-Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet "was furious," The Buffalo News reported Chuck Schumer (D-NY) as revealing on Friday. Following the public revelation of Plame's identity, Tenet called the Department of Justice and demanded an investigation.

That was two years ago.

A year-and-a-half later, President Bush awarded George "Slam Dunk" Tenet the medal of freedom. This following the pre-9/11 and pre-Iraq intelligence failures (which don't begin to account for the corruption of the entire intelligence apparatus by the Bush administration and the subsequent hyping of every unvetted claim about the Iraqi nuclear program).

Maybe I've missed something, but George Tenet seems awful quiet these days about the Plame affair. Did Bush give him the medal of freedom to buy him off? Sort of like beating your wife because she asks where you've been, and then telling her you love her and buying her jewelry.

It's important to remember that the CIA were the ones who didn't believe the neocons' darling, Chalabi, and his horde of liars. They knew the Niger story didn't pan out. They knew the Niger documents were forgeries. Most of them thought the aluminum tubes were for rockets, not centrifuges. And they didn't like being bullied and ignored.

That's why it's so important for Kansas kocksucker Pat Roberts to pleasure his President by opening an disinformation campaign investigation into the CIA's use of cover instead of into the, oh, I dunno, really fucking obvious area of how the administration used intelligence during the marketing blitzkrieg run-up to the war. Including, say, who forged the Niger documents. Considering that the current scandal began with the subject of those documents (the Italian intelligence claim of a purchase of yellowcake uranium by Iraq from Niger), it's worth noting the lack of interest that Bush™ and his many propagandists are showing in finding the culprit(s).


Judy's Been Had...and Had...and Had

Earlier today, Steve Clemons reported that Wilfred Brimley John Bolton was one of Judy Miller's WMD sources. Of salacious interest is Judy Miller's tendency to get "indecorously close [ahem] to her highly placed male sources." (I'm all for bed-hopping, but it's problematic as a journalistic technique.) Seems she also has a history as a bullshit conduit. In light of the last few weeks' Rovian revelations, the following anecdote from a Salon article kinda screams, HEY, OVER HERE!
...Miller's entire journalistic approach was flawed. A few months after the aluminum tubes story, a former CIA analyst, who has observed Miller's professional products and relationships for years, explained to me how simple it was to manipulate the correspondent and her newspaper.
"The White House had a perfect deal with Miller," he said. "Chalabi is providing the Bush people with the information they need to support their political objectives with Iraq, and he is supplying the same material to Judy Miller. Chalabi tips her on something and then she goes to the White House, which has already heard the same thing from Chalabi, and she gets it corroborated by some insider she always describes as a 'senior administration official.' She also got the Pentagon to confirm things for her, which made sense, since they were working so closely with Chalabi. Too bad Judy didn't spend a little more time talking to those of us in the intelligence community who had information that contradicted almost everything Chalabi said."
(Emphasis mine.)

Sound familiar? Unfortunately, it brings us back to our evolving Agatha Christie mystery Warmongering Most Foul.

(Informative Judy details from Schroeder's comment on the previous post. Read the whole Grand Moff Texan post. Warning: May bring on dizzy spells from recapitulation of Reagan Regime, Iran-Contra and other crazy shit. )

Oh, and happy anniversary, Downing Street Memo! Judy Miller: Always happy to help radical corporatist administrations fix the facts and intelligence around the policy.

John Bolton Was Regular Source for Judith Miller WMD and National Security Reporting

Steve Clemons' The Washington Note scoops everybody:
TWN has just learned from a highly placed source -- and in the right place to know -- that John Bolton was a regular source for Judith Miller's New York Times WMD and national security reports.

The source did not have any knowledge on whether Bolton was one of Miller's sources on the Valerie Plame story she was preparing, but argues that he was a regular source otherwise.

It's all "thickening."
Note: We heard yesterday that he'd testified before the grand jury in the Plame investigation.

Iran: the Next War Is Closer Than You Think
full article


Quote of the Day

"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power."

Benito Mussolini

Origins of Al-Qaeda

You've probably heard by now that an Egyptian Al-Qaeda franchise is claiming responsibility for the attack. It's worth noting that Al-Qaeda got its start in Egypt.

Mark Erikson of The Asia Times wrote an excellent four-part series about the origins of global jihadist terror, "Islamism, Fascism, and Terrorism." It's quite a story, involving Nazis, the British and even the CIA. Highly recommended.

John Loftus, the Justice Department prosecutor who uncovered many of the connections in CIA files, gave an overview in a speech last summer that's made the rounds on the Internets. Warning: may contain exaggeration.

Latest on Sharm El-Sheikh Bombing - 88 Dead So Far

From Haaretz and AP (via NYT). The Haaretz story (since it's an Israeli paper) adds:
In the run up to the Shavuot holiday several months ago, the counter-terrorism unit at the Prime Minister's Office issued a recommendation against travelling to Sinai, due to fresh intelligence it had received regarding preparations to carry out attacks. Israel's security agencies have been closely following events in the Sinai Peninsula and also recently upgraded the situation in Sinai to "very sensitive."
Haaretz story also has a timeline of terrorist attacks in Egypt (they leave out assassinations, like the murder of Sadat, in which Al-Qaeda's "idea man" Ayman Al-Zawahiri was involved).


Explosions in Sharm El Sheikh - 83 Dead

Latest at bottom of post.

NPR's reporting explosions in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt...

Haaretz Service and Reuters have the most detailed report:
Explosions in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in the early hours of Saturday morning killed at least 30 people and wounded more than 100, Egyptian officials said.

"Many of the injuries are very serious and they are in critical condition," said the doctor at Sharm el-Sheikh International Hospital, who asked not to be named.

Police said the explosions were caused by four car bombs in Sharm el-Sheikh and the nearby resort of Naama Bay.

The explosions caused pandemonium in the resort as people rushed to go home for fear of more car bombs, said one resident, who asked not to be named.

The first explosion, shortly after 1 A.M., was audible more than 1 km away, a local resident said. It started a fire and smoke billowed over the town.

About 15 minutes later, more explosions were audible from the direction of Naama Bay, about six km away, he said.

A police source said four car bombs appeared to have exploded - one near the Sharm el-Sheikh bazaar, and three in Naama Bay, at a tourist bazaar, the Ghazala Hotel and the Moevenpick Hotel.

"The [Ghazala] hotel was completely burned down, destroyed," said Amal Mustafa, 28, an Egyptian who was visiting Sharm with her family and who drove by the Ghazala Gardens.

Naama Bay has dozens of luxury hotels popular with divers and holidaymakers from Europe.

Khaled Sakran, a Sharm resident, said he saw the first blast from the Old Market. "I saw the saw the fire in the sky," he said. "Right after, I saw a light in the sky and heard another explosion, coming from Naama Bay."

Although the explosions took place after 1 A.M., the bazaars would have been busy with holidaymakers at this time of year because the daytime is so hot, residents said.

Ahmed Fawzi, an Egyptian lawyer visiting Naama Bay on business, told Reuters that one of the explosions ripped the door of his office off its hinges.

A resident living 10 km from Sharm el-Sheikh told Reuters explosions had shaken the windows of his house.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has a holiday villa in the Golf Hotel, close to the Moevenpick.

In October 2004, more than 30 people were killed, many of them Israeli, in explosions in Sinai resorts packed with Israeli tourists.
Is it normal for cable news to take this long to start telling us about anything related to violence? Where's CNN? Fox? MSNBC? Nobody on cable is saying anything (not sure about the News Hour)....

UPDATE: MSNBC finally reported the Reuters version at 7:12 PM CDT. Visual: a map. Audio: Anchorman reading. Was the delay because they had to make a map? Couldn't they get somebody on the phone? Just curious.

NOTE: I've been updating the figure in the title, not the story itself.

UPDATE: Here's a much more detailed account from the NYT.

Tropical Shitstorm a Hurricane?

Tropical Shitstorm Karl may be turning into a hurricane. Not only is Karl in trouble, but the water's heating around Scooter Libby and Ari Fleischer too.

Top Secret?

We don't know, but word 'round the campfire is that the Wall Street Journal's going to report today that the infamous memo aboard Air Force One wasn't just secret, it was top secret. Both Aravosis and Atrios say that they've been told that their sister's girlfriend's cousin's boyfriend's erstwhile employer a reporter on Countdown said that. Guess we'll find out in the next few hours. The WSJ mentions in passing that the memo was "top secret." Atrios quotes the whole brief story. That deflated balloon aside, Aravosis rightly says:
The mainstream media gets it. They get this story. They get why it's important. And now, they want it - bad. And when you get four top news services [WaPo, NYT, Bloomberg, WSJ] (and probably more) all fighting tooth and nail to scoop each other on a major story, that's serious trouble for the guys on the receiving end of that story.

To wit: Richard Keil of The Spy Who Loved Me Bloomberg has reported that Rove's and Scooter's testimonies don't quite jibe with those of various reporters.
Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, told special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that he first learned from NBC News reporter Tim Russert of the identity of Central Intelligence Agency operative Valerie Plame, the wife of former ambassador and Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson, one person said. Russert has testified before a federal grand jury that he didn't tell Libby of Plame's identity, the person said.

White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove told Fitzgerald that he first learned the identity of the CIA agent from syndicated columnist Robert Novak, according a person familiar with the matter. Novak, who was first to report Plame's name and connection to Wilson, has given a somewhat different version to the special prosecutor, the person said.

These discrepancies may be important because Fitzgerald is investigating whether Libby, Rove or other administration officials made false statements during the course of the investigation....
There also is a discrepancy between accounts given by Rove and Time magazine reporter Mat[t] Cooper. The White House aide mentioned Wilson's wife—though not by name—in a July 11, 2003, conversation with Cooper, the reporter said. Rove, 55, says that Cooper called him to talk about welfare reform and the Wilson connection was mentioned later, in passing.

Cooper wrote in Time magazine last week that he told the grand jury he never discussed welfare reform with Rove in that call.
(Via Think Progress via Aravosis.)

What's especially interesting is what the NYT is reporting today in a wide-ranging article. Seems Rove and Libby were (shock!) working together on responses to criticism over those notorious 16 words in the State of the Union and to Joseph Wilson's NYT OpEd piece:
The effort was particularly striking because to an unusual degree, the circle of administration officials involved included those from the White House's political and national security operations, which are often separately run.
On this note, Josh Marshall singles out the following paragraph about Rove and Scooter's collaboration on Tenet's statement about the 16 words:
They had exchanged e-mail correspondence and drafts of a proposed statement by George Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, to explain how the disputed wording had gotten into the address. Mr. Rove, the president's political strategist, and Mr. Libby, the chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, coordinated their efforts with Stephen Hadley, then the deputy national security adviser, who was in turn consulting with Mr. Tenet.
It's worth noting that Hadley worked for Rice, who may have been the first to push the administration's anti-Wilson propaganda.

The same article has it that both Rove and former Satanic Majesty Ari Fleischer, told the grand jury that they never saw that (top?) secret memo. But it's already been reported that Ari did.

Last but not least, the article indicates that Karen Hughes and John Bolton may (repeat may) also be in trouble.

Read the whole thing here.

(Also via Aravosis. Go read him; he's wired.)


London Attack 2

Liveblogging. (Via Andrew Sullivan.)

“S” is for “Secret”

The Washington Post reports that the paragraph of the now infamous memo that mentioned Joseph Wilson's wife was marked "S" for "Secret"—not just "sensitive," as the Wall Street Journal previously reported. According to the WaPo, the designation is "a clear indication that any Bush administration official who read it should have been aware the information was classified, according to current and former government officials." And for the cherry atop the clandestine sundae: "The CIA classifies as 'secret' the names of officers whose identities are covert, according to former senior agency officials." Question: Did Scooter read it? If so, how did that affect Supreme Court nominee John Roberts' decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld?

What Do the Brits Mean by "Fixed"?

Old CIA hand Ray McGovern reports:
Michael Smith, the Sunday Times reporter who broke the story [of the Downing Street memos] thinks he knows what "fixed" means. On June 16, he told the Washington Post:

"There are a number of people asking about 'fixed' and its meaning. This is a real joke. I do not know anyone in the UK who took it to mean anything other than fixed, as in fixed a race, fixed an election, fixed the intelligence. If you fix something, you make it the way you want it. The intelligence was fixed...the head of MI-6 has just been to Washington. He has just talked with George Tenet. He said the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. That translates in clearer terms as the intelligence was being cooked to match what the administration wanted it to say to justify invading Iraq."

I contacted a number of British friends who are close observers of the political scene, to get their opinion. Here is one recent email reply:

"Nobody that I have come across here in London interprets the term 'fixed' in this context as other than cooked/manipulated/selected. Fixed refers to trickery—as in 'the fix is in.'...
As in what Cheney et al. did with intelligence on Iraq. Which is why it was so important for Karl Rove's White House to discredit Joseph Wilson's NYT editorial in which he asked if the administration had taken us to war "under false pretenses." Which is why Karl Rove is in so much trouble. (Apologies to those bored by the repitition; we feel your pain.)

Oh, and isn't it, you know, kind of odd that the gov't isn't investigating who forged those Niger documents? Yes, outing a CIA agent who apparently was under cover but maybe not under a really thick blanket (pick your metaphor) is important and all, but isn't finding out who committed the (likely) more serious crime of defrauding the US Government, the American people, Congress and the rest of the world a priority? We trust our leaders. We're sure they'll investigate the matter just as soon as Pat Roberts finishes investigating how the administration used the intelligence it got from the CIA. Fourth Estate? Hello?


Why Callest Thou Me Good?

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming. From White House bullshitting to Wilsonian ego-tripping, Jason Vest in The Village Voice weighs and finds wanting all the characters in the Plame affair. (Via Wonkette.)

Gettin’ Lucky

So A. and I were walking my dog (a pomapoo) near one of the neighborhood Chinese convenience stores when we we saw two men walking what looked like a large, oddly coiffured dog. But it wasn't a dog. It was a horse. More precisely, a miniature horse.

About the size of a large poodle, his name is Lucky and he's fond of ice. While A. fed him a cube or two from her cup, my dog, Boudin, barked madly at him, probably mistaking him for a dog. Once she (my dog) calmed down, she sniffed at Lucky and seemed to lapse into a silent confusion.

Lucky's owned by a fiftysomething gay couple and has his own website, wegotlucky.com. When he's not busy eating ice, he competes in miniature horse shows. We did not ask, but presumably these are held in miniature stadia with miniature bleachers.

InJustice Sunday II: Holy Shit

I popped over to the Family Research Council to see what they thought of the new nominee for the Supremes and guess what I saw? An ad for "Justice Sunday II." This time starring Watergate criminal and Spirit-filled liar Deep-Throat-defamer Chuck Colson, FRC prez Tony Perkins, Mullah Dobson, Phyllis Schlafly (wince) and (drum-roll, please) the most pissed-off politico in America, Bush's slobbering minion, the undead Zell Miller. With special musical performances by Lee Greenwood, some other guy and a Jesus-rock hottie. Justice Sunday II - "God Save the United States and this Honorable Court" is coming to a TV, radio, church or Internets near you on August 14 at 7 PM EDT. The official site's here.

White House Innocence Break

Normally, the phrase "White House innocence" would be oxymoronic, but in this case it's not. If you're tired of scandals, court nominations and the deaths of beloved scifi icons, take a breather with Barney, the White House dog. We can't resist noting that his inability to speak would make him an ideal substitute for Scott McClellan during the vacation or retirement he must be pining for.

Scooter Goes to Langley

Eric Boehlert has a simple explanation for how Scooter Libby, Uncle Dick's chief of staff, might've known that Valerie Plame Wilson was a CIA agent. During the run-up to the Iraq war, Dick Cheney was fond of stopping by Langley to indimidate agents who weren't telling him what he wanted to hear. According to a 2003 USA today article that Boehlert quotes, Dick and Scooter went to the ice cream shop for some sodas visited the CIA Non-Proliferation center, where Plame was assigned. She didn't attend the meetings but prepared materials for them.

CONTEXTUAL ASIDE: You know, this would be fun if it weren't about the Bush administration fixing the facts and intelligence around their nutty neocon policy so we could have a little military adventure in Mesopotamia and wind up with a pile of corpses, creating America-hating terrorists in the process and giving them an excellent training ground. Thanks, Karl!


Karl Rove Quote of the Day

Regarding "some political stratagem in some state that had gone awry and a political operative who had displeased him," Rove said: "We will fuck him. Do you hear me? We will fuck him. We will ruin him. Like no one has ever fucked him!"

(Source: Ron Suskind's January 2003 Esquire article "Why Are These Men Laughing?")

Rove Leak: the Closest Parallel
(Special Bonus Surprise Edition)

Wayne Slater, co-author of Bush's Brain and long-time reporter on Everything Rove, reports the following in the July 13 Dallas Morning News:
Perhaps the closest parallel to the current controversy over the outing of the CIA official occurred more than a decade ago.

In that political dustup, a newspaper columnist wrote a damaging piece in 1992 about Rove political rivals within the Texas Republican Party. Although Mr. Rove denied that he was the leaker, Republican leaders believed he was responsible and canceled his direct-mail contract with the Texas GOP.

The columnist in that episode, as in the Valerie Plame case, was Robert Novak.
(Emphasis mine.)


UPDATE: Here's a more detailed version of the story:
Sources close to the former president [Bush] say Rove was fired from the 1992 Bush presidential campaign after he planted a negative story with columnist Robert Novak about dissatisfaction with campaign fundraising chief and Bush loyalist Robert Mosbacher Jr. It was smoked out, and he was summarily ousted.
2004 ELECTION BONUS: Slater also mentions Karl's konnection to the Swift Boat Veterans who maligned Kerry:
[Rove] denied involvement in last year's successful attack by an independent group, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, on Democrat John Kerry's service in Vietnam.

Much of the early money bankrolling the Swift Boat Veterans, though, came from a Houston homebuilder whom Mr. Rove recruited two decades ago to help bankroll the emerging Texas GOP.
But we're sure that Rove wasn't bullshitting when he told Fox News, "This town is built on myths.... And I've become a convenient myth." (The quote appears in Slater's story.)

NOTE: You have to register to view the Dallas Morning News article. To avoid doing so, go to bugmenot.com.

UPDATE: This connection was noted on TPM in 2003. It's also in Karl's Wikipedia entry. This week, it appeared in a dailyKos diary that I can't find again, and that diary linked to a MyDD post about it, which I can't find now either (sorry).

UPDATE: A friend found the original Novak column on Lexis Nexis and sent it to me. I put it in a Kos diary so that somebody would see it. Here it is.

You're So Sensitive

We really didn't want to write another Rove post today, but alas, we can't help it. As you've probably heard by now, Plame's identity as a CIA agent was revealed in a memo aboard Air Force One during Bush's trip to Africa in July 2003. Some have speculated that Ari Fleischer was the source of the leak because he'd been seen perusing the memo during the trip. But today the Wall Street Journal reports that Bob Novak had placed calls to Fleischer before he wrote his column but Fleischer didn't respond. True? Who knows. From the way the WSJ sentence is worded, it sounds like the information came from Fleischer's lawyer: "Mr. Fleischer didn't respond to Mr. Novak's inquiries, according to a person familiar with his account. [Emphasis mine.]" But what do I know?

The story's kicker, though, is that the memo clearly marked as sensitive information regarding Valerie Plame Wilson's wife:
The paragraph in the memo discussing Ms. Wilson's involvement in her husband's trip is marked at the beginning with a letter designation in brackets to indicate the information shouldn't be shared, according to the person familiar with the memo. Such a designation would indicate to a reader that the information was sensitive. The memo, though, doesn't specifically describe Ms. Wilson as an undercover agent, the person familiar with the memo said.
In light of this revelation, we might wonder anew what Rove meant when he told Time's Matt Cooper that he'd "already said too much." Was it a dramatic flourish or did he realize that he'd screwed up? Maybe he knew that the Butler, Jenkins, was already sharpening the knives for stabbing Mrs. Pillingsworth once the power cut out during the storm....

UPDATE: Here's the AP story on the memo.

UPDATE: We won't know until Fitzgerald's through, but the American Prospect's Murray Waas has a possibly momentous revelation:
White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove did not disclose that he had ever discussed CIA officer Valerie Plame with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper during Rove's first interview with the FBI, according to legal sources with firsthand knowledge of the matter.

The omission by Rove created doubt for federal investigators, almost from the inception of their criminal probe into who leaked Plame's name to columnist Robert Novak, as to whether Rove was withholding crucial information from them, and perhaps even misleading or lying to them, the sources said.
(Via Eschaton.)

That's Rove in a Corner

Unelected co-president Karl Rove is notorious for his detailed knowledge of polls and demographics. He must have noticed that, according to ABC's latest poll (published in Raw Story), only one quarter of the American public believes the administration is fully cooperating with Fitzgerald's investigation. That's down by ~50% from two years ago, when the investigation began. The same poll reveals that only half of Republicans believe the administration is fully cooperating. But the most disturbing finding for Rove is that "three-quarters say that if presidential adviser Karl Rove was responsible for leaking classified information, it should cost him his job"—and that includes 71% of Republicans. These numbers come on the heels of a slew of polls showing ebbing approval ratings for the president.

This (seemingly) puts Karl Rove in a corner. We're far from even the half-way point of Bush's second term. What if in order to save the president's agenda, Mr. Rove has to step down? Doing so would lobotomize the White House. Will Rove destroy the village in order to save it? Just what is Mr. Rove plotting right now?

UPDATE: Here's the ABC News link.

EVIL BONUS: Evil leftist Arvin wonders where Bush's Dick has gone. That's a good question....

NOTE: We meant to post the second part of our "moving" saga, but it died in a tragic computer crash. We're busy reassembling it. We have the technology....


Tropical Shitstorm Karl Buffets Virginia, Maryland

WASHINGTON - Tropical shitstorm Karl buffeted the coasts of Virginia and Maryland today as residents of the coast and the nation's capital prepared for landfall.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (or NOAA) acknowledged the existence of the storm but declined to provide details about it. "I think our views on the storm are clear," NOAA spokesperson Alvin Sprechscheisse told reporters at a press conference today. "It would not be appropriate for me to get into the details of the storm at this time because information is still coming in," he continued. "When NOAA researchers have had time to sort through all the data, ideally once the storm has fully come ashore, then it will be appropriate for me to comment."

When pressed for more information to help residents prepare for the storm, Sprechscheisse said, "Information is still coming in. NOAA cannot rely for its information on initial media reports."

Some D.C. area residents were perturbed by the lack of information.

"That's just ridiculous," said Tawani Shinkoku, a resident of Fairfax, Virginia. "How are we supposed to prepare for a shitstorm that big if we don't know what to expect?" The last shitstorm, William, ruined Shinkoku's car and forced her to leave the home of her birth. "There was so much shit, we couldn't get out of the living room," she said. "We could barely get away from the TV."

Shitstorm William, which ground its way across Virginia and Maryland in 1998, resulted in tens of thousands of refugees flooding into areas as diverse as Kentucky, North Carolina and New York.

It is unclear whether Shitstorm Karl will be that severe, as NOAA has yet to determine wind speed. They insist, however, that Karl has not yet become a hurricane. Senior NOAA officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, have speculated that the shitstorm may strengthen into a category four hurricane, with wind speeds from 131 to 155 mph, and may make landfall within sixteen weeks.

See, It's about the Facts...

Witty repartee from today's White House press briefing:

Q What is [President Bush's] problem? Two years, and he can't call Rove in and find out what the hell is going on? I mean, why is it so difficult to find out the facts? It costs thousands, millions of dollars, two years, it tied up how many lawyers? All he's got to do is call him in.

MR. McCLELLAN: You just heard from the President. He said he doesn't know all the facts. I don't know all the facts.

Q Why?

MR. McCLELLAN: We want to know what the facts are. Because --

Q Why doesn't he ask him?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'll tell you why, because there's an investigation that is continuing at this point, and the appropriate people to handle these issues are the ones who are overseeing that investigation. There is a special prosecutor that has been appointed. And it's important that we let all the facts come out. And then at that point, we'll be glad to talk about it, but we shouldn't be getting into --

Q You talked about it to reporters.

MR. McCLELLAN: We shouldn't be getting into prejudging the outcome.


Will the Dead Rise Again?

Atrios quotes Bob Schieffer, who lobbed softballs at Bush during a presidential "debate," as saying Sunday: "Can anything said from the White House podium be taken at face value, or does the White House just deny automatically anything that reflects badly on it?" What was your first clue, Bob? That was obvious since before 9/11. In any case, Our Beloved Leader might want to take note when a prominent White House-friendly TV journalist from Texas starts talking like that.

UPDATE: Crooks and Liars has the video. (Plus quotes from other bloggers saying the same thing; we swear, we thought of the obvious all on our own.)


How to Fix Facts and Intelligence, Part Infinity

Because matters couldn't be confusing enough in the Plame-leak case, here's some reason to wonder if Cheney and other senior admin officials ever heard the results of Wilson's trip. How do you fix facts and intelligence around a policy? Start by making sure you hear only what you want to hear. Josh Marshall quotes a WaPo article from June 15, 2003, in which the following appears:
...[T]he CIA did not pass on the detailed results of its investigation to the White House or other government agencies, the officials said.

The CIA's failure to share what it knew was one of a number of steps in the Bush administration that helped keep the uranium story alive until the eve of the war.

A senior intelligence official said the CIA's action was the result of "extremely sloppy" handling of a central piece of evidence in the administration's case against then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

A senior CIA analyst said the case "is indicative of larger problems" involving the handling of intelligence about Iraq's alleged weapons programs and its links to al Qaeda, which the administration cited as justification for war. "Information not consistent with the administration agenda was discarded and information that was ‘consistent’ was not seriously scrutinized," the analyst said.
This is basically what some journalists were reporting before and shortly after the war, and it's what the Pat-Roberts-run Senate Select Committee on Intelligence said they would investigate at some point, some day, if the mood strikes them. Why aren't they? That's a rhetorical question.

UPDATE: In a letter to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Joseph Wilson said about the SSCI report:
On March 8, 2003, the intelligence report on my trip was disseminated within the U.S. government, according to the Senate report (page 43). Further, the Senate report states that "in early March, the Vice President asked his morning briefer for an update on the Niger uranium issue." That update from the CIA "also noted that the CIA would be debriefing a source who may have information related to the alleged sale on March 5." The report then states the "DO officials also said they alerted WINPAC [Center for Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation and Arms Control] analysts when the report was being disseminated because they knew the high priority of the issue." The report notes that the CIA briefer did not brief the vice president on the report.
(Emphasis mine.)

Corrected: An earlier version of this post said Seymour Hersh reported on the adminisration's skewing of intelligence before the war, when in fact it was after. Knight Ridder reported on it before the war. For a list of Knight Ridder prewar reporting, go here.

Did Plame's Neighbors Know She Was CIA?

Yesterday The Washington Times reported that there's evidence that Wilson's wife's CIA job was common knowledge around the neighborhood:
A former CIA covert agent who supervised Mrs. Plame early in her career yesterday took issue with her identification as an "undercover agent," saying that she worked for more than five years at the agency's headquarters in Langley and that most of her neighbors and friends knew that she was a CIA employee.

"She made no bones about the fact that she was an agency employee and her husband was a diplomat," Fred Rustmann, a covert agent from 1966 to 1990, told The Washington Times.

"Her neighbors knew this, her friends knew this, his friends knew this. A lot of blame could be put on to central cover staff and the agency because they weren't minding the store here. ... The agency never changed her cover status."

Mr. Rustmann, who spent 20 of his 24 years in the agency under "nonofficial cover" -- also known as a NOC, the same status as the wife of Mr. Wilson -- also said that she worked under extremely light cover.

In addition, Mrs. Plame hadn't been out as an NOC since 1997, when she returned from her last assignment, married Mr. Wilson and had twins, USA Today reported yesterday.
Aha! Liars! But not so fast:
One neighbor of the Wilsons, who live in the affluent Palisades community in Northwest, said that he "absolutely didn't know" that Mrs. Plame was in the CIA.

"We understood her to work as an economist," said David Tillotson, a 62-year old lawyer. He said he didn't know that Mrs. Plame commuted to CIA headquarters, but added that "they wouldn't be conducting an investigation if she hadn't been covert."
Presumably, when Fitzgerald wraps up his investigation, we'll find out what sorta kinda may've happened. (Via P*w*r L*ne.)

On the "who leaked it" front, The War Room's Tim Grieve speculates about Ari Fleischer.


Bush Admin May Be Responsible for Botching Effort to Thwart London Bombing

Jesus. (Via The Brad Blog.)

Would Those RNC Asswipes Please Explain

Update below

Why Karl Rove had to call up reporters and offer the extra double-plus hush hush background bullshit that Wilson was sent on a CIA mission by his wife? (He wasn't, and he didn't claim Dick Cheney sent him either.) Alan Colmes asked a similar question of Ann Coulter Wednesday night. If, as certain fools believe, the White House had truth on their side, then why not just send out George Tenet to say he's got it all wrong? Why not show snippets from Wilson's report? If the report or documents debunking the report (if any) couldn't be declassified or shared with the taxpayers, why not, say, leak snippets to, oh, I dunno, Robert Novak? (Reading Novak is like eating at Denny's: you have to run to the bathroom before you're done.)

Clueless John wondered that very thing after smothering a plateful of distinctions about the Plame affair with RNC Nuance-B-Gone™: "...here is what I really don't get: didn't the administration have access to all of this information about Wilson's report? And if so, why didn't they use it when Wilson was dominating the news cycle with his lies?"

Exactly. Those questions sort of answer themselves once you step through the looking glass. Here are a few more: Why did Scott McClellan say that the thought of Rove outing a CIA agent was "ridiculous"? McClellan told reporters that Rove told him he wasn't involved in the leak. If Rove really did tell him that, then he was lying. Why? Was he hiding something? Why won't anyone in the administration, especially the press secretary, answer questions about Rove? (They've done it before, in spite of the "ongoing investigation.") Most of the questions aren't about the investigation anyway, and we can't find a record of McClellan claiming before this week that "those in charge of the investigation" asked him to clam up (it may exist...). Rather, in late 2003 or early 2004, he just started saying that he didn't want to comment during an "ongoing investigation"—an excuse that conveniently provides its own rationale. But we feel for Scottie. If he didn't open his mouth once in a while, he'd explode from all that built-up shit.

Speaking of: You've heard of feces-flinging. But what Rove did to Joseph Wilson via his wife, Valerie Plame, was more severe. When one group of monkeys conquers another (correct me, anthropologists, if I'm wrong), often the head male of the conquering group will mount the mate of the deposed leader and make a show of sex with her. The point is to intimidate the members of the conquered group and make it clear that they are not to cross their new leader. That's essentially why Karl Rove outed Valerie Plame (and one reason we invaded Iraq). Discredit and punish Wilson, but especially punish. It's a message to all the other monkeys in the group. Want to tell the NYT your version of how "intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy"? Don't even think about it.

UPDATE: Of course, that all depends on who did the leaking and under what circumstances. The Associated Press' John Solomon reports today that Rove emailed then-national security adviser Stephen Hadley about talking with Time's Matt Cooper. Essentially, it confirms Rove's version of events. So maybe Rove was trying to warn Cooper about a story that was really true that Rove may have thought was false, in order to discredit what he may have thought was a false story that was really true. Confusing, isn't it? More likely, whoever leaked Plame's identity to reporters did so at Rove's behest (Rampant Speculation alert). It is almost impossible to believe that reporters just happened to find out that Plame was a CIA agent under non-official cover (a very big deal). Someone told them. For a reason. And I'm betting that reason is what everyone who's not an administration shill has been saying it was. (Not that there isn't room for debate.)

All of this would fit with Fitzgerald's dogged pursuit of the investigation as well as with Rove's lawyer's claims that Rove isn't a target of it. This is where another quote from Bush's Brain comes in handy:
While the leak strategy is classic Rove, it's just as likely he did not make the initial calls to reporters, though there have been reports that he made follow-up contact with some journalists. He almost always puts a layer of operatives between himself and the actual implementation of any plan of attack. All of the investigative roads can be expected to lead back to Rove, but, if past practice is any indication, they will wash out from a deluge of deception before they get to their destination. Rove has avoided the subject, but White House spokesman Scott McClellan has denied that Rove was the leaker.....

...The Bush White House has been virtually leak proof—testament to fierce loyalties to the president and Karl Rove's absolute control. No one would have dared to leak information on a CIA agent without getting Karl Rove to check the "yes" box on the plan. To believe that Rove was oblivious to what happened requires complete abandonment of any knowledge of his past behavior in the arena of politics, or ignorance of his comprehensive involvement in the most minute of details in the Bush White House.
This, of course, doesn't prove anything. But it's worth noting.

If you aren't interested enough in Rove or don't have time to read the book, read last November's Atlantic Monthly article on Rove to find out why Scott McClellan was either lying or completely ignorant of Rove when he said, "I've known Karl for a long time, and I didn't even need to go ask Karl, because I know the kind of person that he is, and he is someone that is committed to the highest standards of conduct."

UPDATE: Just One Minute has a long speculative post on "who may have leaked" that's worth reading. It covers a dizzying array of possibilities.


Quotable GOP Wilson/Rove Talking Points

Here's the HTML version of the GOP talking points on Rove. Funny how they're all about Wilson, the enemy of the state whom the heroic Rove outed by blowing a CIA agent's cover. An act even more noble than spreading the rumor in South Carolina that then-presidential-candidate John McCain had a "black" baby. Kleen Karl....

A Lawyer on Rove

Abby Taylor sent us this post by a lawyer reflecting on Rove's predicament. He thinks Rove "has a problem under the 'outing' statute, far more grave than the spinners want us to believe." Read it here.

Flotilla - Apropos of Nothing

While checking the spelling of the title of this post for one of the comments on the previous one, I came across the band Flotilla. They have a couple of songs from their demo CD on their website. The music is somewhere between Joni Mitchell and Stereolab (with fewer electronics). Very impressive.


Ballsy Journalism Watch, Part IV

This might be better titled "Pissed Off Journalists Watch." Anyway, more witty dialogue, from the July 13 exercise in futility White House press briefing:

Q Scott, you know what, to make a general observation here, in a previous administration, if a press secretary had given the sort of answers you've just given in referring to the fact that everybody who works here enjoys the confidence of the President, Republicans would have hammered them as having a kind of legalistic and sleazy defense. I mean, the reality is that you're parsing words, and you've been doing it for a few days now. So does the President think Karl Rove did something wrong, or doesn't he?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, David, I'm not at all. I told you and the President told you earlier today that we don't want to prejudge the outcome of an ongoing investigation. And I think we've been round and round on this for two days now.

Q Even if it wasn't a crime? You know, there are those who believe that even if Karl Rove was trying to debunk bogus information, as Ken Mehlman suggested yesterday -- perhaps speaking on behalf of the White House -- that when you're dealing with a covert operative, that a senior official of the government should be darn well sure that that person is not undercover, is not covert, before speaking about them in any way, shape, or form. Does the President agree with that or not?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, we've been round and round on this for a couple of days now. I don't have anything to add to what I've said the previous two days.

Q That's a different question, and it's not round and round --

MR. McCLELLAN: You heard from the President earlier.

Q It has nothing to do with the investigation, Scott, and you know it.

MR. McCLELLAN: You heard from the President earlier today, and the President said he's not --

Q That's a dodge to my question. It has nothing to do with the investigation. Is it appropriate for a senior official to speak about a covert agent in any way, shape, or form without first finding out whether that person is working as a covert officer.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, first of all, you're wrong. This is all relating to questions about an ongoing investigation, and I've been through this.

Q If I wanted to ask you about an ongoing investigation, I would ask you about the statute, and I'm not doing that.

MR. McCLELLAN: I think we've exhausted discussion on this the last couple of days.

Q You haven't even scratched the surface.

Q It hasn't started.

MR. McCLELLAN: I look forward to talking about it once the investigation is complete, as the President does, as well. And you heard from the President earlier today.

Q Can I ask for clarification on what the President said at Sea Island on June 10th of last year, when he was saying that he would fire anybody from the White House who was involved in the leak of classified information? What were the parameters for those consequences? Was it --

MR. McCLELLAN: I appreciate your question.

Q Was it a knowing leak with the intent of doing damage? I'm just wondering when he talked about that, what those parameters were?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I've nothing to add on this discussion, and if we have any other topics you want to discuss, I'll be glad to do that.

Go ahead, David.

Q Scott, when the President asked that question at Sea -- was asked that question at Sea Island, and, in fact, when you made your statement that Karl had had nothing to do with this, was there an ongoing investigation at that time?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, we've been through this for two days now, and I've already responded to those questions.

Go ahead, April.

Q I'm going to give you another --

Q I'm sorry, I wasn't here yesterday, so could you refresh my memory? Was there an ongoing investigation --

MR. McCLELLAN: The briefings are available online.

Q -- at the time that you answered previous questions on this issue?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I responded to those questions the past couple of days. Go ahead.

Q The answer is, yes.

GOP Talking Points on Rove

Raw Story's got an exclusive copy of the GOP talking points on Rove (in other words, How to Smear Joseph Wilson and Why Karl Should Get the Medal of Freedom).

Valerie Plame Was No Desk Jockey

According to Larry Johnson, former CIA agent, Valerie Plame was under Non-Official Cover when Novak (Rove?) outed her. That means that if she'd been caught overseas with her hand in the proverbial cookie jar, she could've lost her life. Read what a real expert has to say about the Plame affair. Highlight:
The lies by people like Victoria Toensing, Representative Peter King, and P. J. O'Rourke insist that Valerie was nothing, just a desk jockey. Yet, until Robert Novak betrayed her she was still undercover and the company that was her front was still a secret to the world. When Novak outed Valerie he also compromised her company and every individual overseas who had been in contact with that company and with her.
Since a slew of liars have been unleased from Mordor the White House to spin the story, let's review what outing Plame meant at the time. In October, 2003, Walter Pincus and Mike Allen of the Washington Post reported:
The leak of a CIA operative's name has also exposed the identity of a CIA front company, potentially expanding the damage caused by the original disclosure, Bush administration officials said yesterday.

The company's identity, Brewster-Jennings & Associates, became public because it appeared in Federal Election Commission records on a form filled out in 1999 by Valerie Plame, the case officer at the center of the controversy, when she contributed $1,000 to Al Gore's presidential primary campaign.

After the name of the company was broadcast yesterday, administration officials confirmed that it was a CIA front. They said the obscure and possibly defunct firm was listed as Plame's employer on her W-2 tax forms in 1999 when she was working undercover for the CIA. Plame's name was first published July 14 in a newspaper column by Robert D. Novak that quoted two senior administration officials. They were critical of her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, for his handling of a CIA mission that undercut President Bush's claim that Iraq had sought uranium from the African nation of Niger for possible use in developing nuclear weapons.

The Justice Department began a formal criminal investigation of the leak Sept. 26.

The inadvertent disclosure of the name of a business affiliated with the CIA underscores the potential damage to the agency and its operatives caused by the leak of Plame's identity. Intelligence officials have said that once Plame's job as an undercover operative was revealed, other agency secrets could be unraveled and her sources might be compromised or endangered.

A former diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity said yesterday that every foreign intelligence service would run Plame's name through its databases within hours of its publication to determine if she had visited their country and to reconstruct her activities.

"That's why the agency is so sensitive about just publishing her name," the former diplomat said.
(Emphasis mine.)

And that's why, if Rove did it, he should be fired "at a minimum." But that ain't gonna happen.

Note: We're not positive, but the Larry Johnson mentioned above is almost certainly this Larry Johnson. If so, you might recognize him from such news organizations as Fox, ABC, NBC and the New York Times. Street cred, in other words. He commented on NPR's Morning Edition today in this story (starts just before the 2:00 mark).

BONUS: SusanG of Jeff Gannon fame answers GOP talking points on Rove/Wilson. The Left Coaster does it too.


The Halfling's Leaf

You may've heard that Willie Nelson's coming out with a reggae album (yes, that's a reggae album). Appropriately, the cover features a leaf that will fill some readers with longing or nostalgia. But not at Wal Mart. The "family-friendly" Wal Mart version features another plant altogether.

Melting Ice Flows Downhill

Now we all know that "global warming" is just a leftist plot to shut down the energy-devouring capitalist engine that's liberating the Third World, but it's getting a little hard to ignore all that melting ice and permafrost in the colder climes of the world. So what happens when, say, a land-lubbing glacier high atop a mountain starts losing its cool? According to the Times of London, if that glacier feeds rivers during the warm season, the results could be inconvenient for non-Americans:
It will begin with overflowing rivers, which will wash away homes and fields in China, India and South-East Asia. After a few decades will come drought, as the same rivers dwindle to a trickle. And then will come the second deluge—immense walls of water, like mountain tsunamis, which will break through thin walls of frozen earth, washing away bridges, dams and Himalayan communities.
Seventy per cent of the world's fresh water is frozen in glaciers, and the Himalayas possess the highest concentration anywhere apart from the polar ice caps. During the dry seasons, melt water from glaciers flows down the valleys and swells rivers that would otherwise dwindle dangerously low.

The Himalayan glaciers supply 8.6 million cubic metres (304 cu ft) every year to Asian rivers, including the Yangtze and Yellow rivers in China, the Ganga (Ganges) in India, the Indus in Pakistan, the Brahmaputra in Bangladesh, the Salween and Irrawaddy in Burma, and the Mekong, which flows through China, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.

But the average temperature in the Himalayas has risen by 1C since the 1970s, and the glaciers are in retreat. The Khumbu Glacier in Nepal, where Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay began their ascent of Everest, has retreated more than three miles since they climbed the mountain in 1953. According to a report published in March by the WWF, a quarter of the world's glaciers could disappear by 2050.
So remember, kids, if you move to China or India for that high-skilled, well-paying job, make sure you're out of the flood zone.

The rest here.