Saturday, November 19, 2005

Open Thread

What you gonna do when the thread strikes and hits you?

Open Thread

Our thread is our world, our life.

It's Not a Bug, It's a Feature

A recent Times article pointed out that the methods for torture we used were taken adapted from tolitarian communist techniques valued not for their success in obtaining the truth but in their ability to obtain false confessions.

Apparently that wasn't really a bug, but a feature. The Times also recently pointed that even though the Bush administration was warned that one of the information sources, al Libi, was full of shit they kept on using his information to justify the war.

The Times article quoted a Defense Intelligence Report claiming that al-Libi "was intentionally misleading the debriefers" although this stretches the concept of "intentionally" somewhat.

You see, al-Libi was a fine graduate of our exciting new school of interrogation. On him we used torture techniques designed to encourage the subject to tell the interrogaters what they wanted to hear. And, miracle of miracles, he did indeed tell them what they wanted to hear.

However, ABC News was told that at least three CIA officers declined to be trained in the techniques before a cadre of 14 were selected to use them on a dozen top al Qaeda suspects in order to obtain critical information. In at least one instance, ABC News was told that the techniques led to questionable information aimed at pleasing the interrogators and that this information had a significant impact on U.S. actions in Iraq.

According to CIA sources, Ibn al Shaykh al Libbi, after two weeks of enhanced interrogation, made statements that were designed to tell the interrogators what they wanted to hear. Sources say Al Libbi had been subjected to each of the progressively harsher techniques in turn and finally broke after being water boarded and then left to stand naked in his cold cell overnight where he was doused with cold water at regular intervals.

His statements became part of the basis for the Bush administration claims that Iraq trained al Qaeda members to use biochemical weapons. Sources tell ABC that it was later established that al Libbi had no knowledge of such training or weapons and fabricated the statements because he was terrified of further harsh treatment.

"This is the problem with using the waterboard. They get so desperate that they begin telling you what they think you want to hear," one source said.

However, sources said, al Libbi does not appear to have sought to intentionally misinform investigators, as at least one account has stated. The distinction in this murky world is nonetheless an important one. Al Libbi sought to please his investigators, not lead them down a false path, two sources with firsthand knowledge of the statements said.

Just to recap. Bush administration needs evidence to support their war. They use torture techniqes designed to extract false confessions to obtain that "evidence," which they then use to sell the war despite knowing full well of the lack of reliability of the information.

On Privilege

From Arthur Silber.

The Self-Similarity of the Wingnut Function


Wanker of the Day

Whiny Tim Roemer.

I don't mind centrist Democrats. I don't mind criticisms of the Democratic party, including ones come from the righter wing of the party. What I do mind are people who help to perpetuate and strengthen fake right wing talking points about Democrats. In other words, I mind Fox News Democrats.

Open Thread

I beg to leave, to hear your wonderous threads.

Lots of Boobage

Competing theories from Arianna and Kevin.

I'm thinking the truth is some combination, though more on that when I have time.

Crazy Jean Calls Murtha a Coward

They never cease to amaze me.

Video here.

Good Democrats

If it passes this bill should cover everything necessary to protect online activity.

Gratiutous OSM Bashing of the Day

Dude, who stole my logo?

Dude, who stole my sitemeter?

Dude, it's a carnival not a circus.

Never Leaving as long as Bush is in Charge

Bush says "This is not going to happen on my watch." In other words, we stay in Iraq at least until January 2009.

Open Thread

If we reason with destiny, gonna lose our touch. Don't kill the thread.

Open Thread

Listen, should we thread forever Knowing as we do know fear destroys?

Friday, November 18, 2005

Open Thread

Always on the thread of what could be the greatest moment in this life.

Open Thread

On the darkest night so painful do you hunger for thread midst the torture of being one?

Open Thread

Always on the thread of what could be the greatest moment in this life.

Auspicious Debut

I guess there's something appropriate about a right wing media outlet debuting with a whopper.

As funny as it is I guess we're spending a bit too much time talking a web site that has absolutely nothing even mildy interesting or entertaining on it. I'd wonder why it didn't occur to anyone that a launch should be accompanied by an actual product, but I think the answer is pretty obvious - they have no idea what the product is yet.

Grey Lady Still Carrying Water

Pushes Bush administration line on scary weapons, unconcerned with facts.

The Fun Continues

The Fitz goes on:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said in court filings that the ongoing CIA leak investigation will involve proceedings before a new grand jury, a possible sign he could seek new charges in the case.

In filings obtained by Reuters on Friday, Fitzgerald said "the investigation is continuing" and that "the investigation will involve proceedings before a different grand jury than the grand jury which returned the indictment" against Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Deliberately Stupid

OW has a post about the deliberate pose of stupidity many on the Right take. To prove his point, one of his righty commentators writes:

Speaking of “Stupid on Purpose”…

2 Days ago, Oliver intimates that the lackluster performance in the stock market should be laid at Bush’s feet. 48 hours later, the NASDAQ and S&P hit 4 1/2 year Highs.

Any bets as to whether Oliver will give Bush credit for this new development?

The NASDAQ and S&P hitting 4 1/2 year highs means that it's taken 4.5 years for the market to get back to the level it was at in May of 2001. I'll happily give Bush credit for that tremendous accomplishment.

More on Crazy Jean

From upyernoz.

The Producers

OSM business plan revealed!

Say Hi To Len

Submit your Booby related questions to Len Downie.


That's the Bush and Republican belief. We'll never leave Iraq as long as they're in charge.

Open Thread

No thread can take your place, you know what I mean. We have the same intrigue as a court of kings.


The amazing thing about Ponzi Media is that it's been...well, nothing. It's been so boring there's been almost nothing worth mocking.

Well, at least we have an amusing take on the launch party and Snopes Blair's apparent fear of hookers.

(via Arthur Silber)

Tiny Penis Brigade

Compassionate conservatism:

The 22 Republicans who opposed the measure represented a cross-section of ideologies and had a variety of reasons for objecting. For instance Representative Bill Thomas, Republican of California and chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, said he objected because of an unexpected acceleration in the timetable for the federal government to stop Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement for drugs that treat sexual impotence.

Joking aside, I think Bill Thomas is exactly right. It's entirely appropriate for such programs to cover reproductive health issues including, but not limited to, impotency issues. Such issues include birth control, abortion, prenatal care, and general penis, vagina, testicle, ovary, prostate, and uterus maintenance programs.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


Echidne's right. No matter what the intent, that's the impact.

Crazy Jean Schmidt

In the winger all-star hateathon:

You know, you all are not getting the big picture. The big picture is that these Islamic insurgents want to destroy us. They don't like us. They don't like us because we're black, we're white, we're Christian, we're Jew, we're educated, we're free, we're not Islamic. We can never be Islamic because we were not born Islamic. Now, this isn't the Islamic citizens.
We are the best nation in the world, and it is incumbent upon us at all levels, whether we are soldiers, whether we are in Congress, or whether we are the press, to protect our freedom.

I'm doing it. The soldiers are doing it

Jean's still keeping her eye on the ball.

We're All Michael Moore Now



Again, if Booby's conversation with his super secret source was "off the record" then why did he (as he claims) feel free to tell Pincus about it, and so casually?

So much for the great keeper of secrets.

Murtha=Michael Moore

That's the White House's best shot.


Look at the Shiny Sparkly Thing!

There are days when our media collectively swallows and regurgitates something so mindbogglingly stupid that even I am stunned

They're Our Bastards Now

God they get stupider and stupider.

15 Questions for Booby

From Arianna.


Notes from the Post's internal message board.


Oh this is fun.

If we can just keep them from destroying the country the next 3 years might be kinda fun.

Poor Lord Black


CHICAGO - Former media tycoon Conrad Black and three other executives were charged in a federal fraud indictment Thursday involving the $2.1 billion sale of several hundred Canadian newspapers and the abuse of corporate perquisites at newspaper publishing company Hollinger International Inc.

Black, 61, Hollinger International's ousted chairman, was accused in the 11-count indictment of cheating the company's U.S. and Canadian shareholders as well as Canadian taxing authorities.


Arrest warrants were issued for Black, Boultbee and Atkinson, U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald's office said. Prosecutors said they would allow the defendants to appear voluntarily in U.S. District Court in Chicago.

Fiery Wreck

House fails to pass spending bill.


Marty Kaplan is worth reading today.


Stranger writes:

After watching Bush smear and trash all opponents for two and a half years, the American people have pretty much had enough. But for all the talk we hear about how brilliant Bush's spin team is, they have one fatal flaw - they believe that the more they talk, the more people will come around to their point of view.

I actually don't think this is Bush's spin team. I think this is Bush. This is "I won this election so I'm all grown up now and I get to do the presidenting my way and I'm the president and I know what's best and if other people disagree it's because they're stupid and I need to keep explaining until they're smart." It comes out of Bush's unwavering belief in his own rightness.

I really doubt Bush's spin team was stupid enough to genuinely want him to continue his neverending Social Security Bamboozlepalooza tour, they just knew better than to try to ask him to stop,

Murtha's Full Statement


The crunchy Cornerite displays one of his occasional flashes of wisdom:

Don't know how many of you caught Rep. John Murtha's very angry, very moving speech just now in which he called on the White House to institute an immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. CNN didn't air the entire thing, but as I listened to it, I could feel the ground shift. Murtha, as you know, is not a Pelosi-style Chardonnay Democrat; he's a crusty retired career Marine who reminds me of the kinds of beer-slugging Democrats we used to have before the cultural left took over the party. Murtha, a conservative Dem who voted for the war, talked in detail about the sacrifices being borne by our soldiers and their families, and about his visits out to Walter Reed to look after the maimed, and how we've had enough, it's time to come home. He was hell on the president too.

If tough, non-effete guys like Murtha are willing to go this far, and can make the case in ways that Red America can relate to -- and listening to him talk was like listening to my dad, who's about the same age, and his hunting buddies -- then the president is in big trouble. I'm sure there's going to be an anti-Murtha pile-on in the conservative blogosphere, but from where I sit, conservatives would be fools not to take this man seriously.

More Booby

I'd highly recommend reading the Frank Rich review of Booby that Digby references below. I'm too respectful of copyright to post up the whole thing, but anyone who can get access should do so.

Copyright 1999 The New York Times Company
The New York Times

August 15, 1999, Sunday, Late Edition - Final

SECTION: Section 6; Page 42; Column 1; Magazine Desk

LENGTH: 3438 words

HEADLINE: All the Presidents Stink

BYLINE: By Frank Rich; Frank Rich is a Times Op-Ed columnist and a senior writer for the magazine.

A couple bits. There's a certain irony in this given recent events

Woodward's official thesis, culled from what he calls overwhelming evidence, is that the "five presidents after Nixon didn't understand" the lessons of Watergate -- the prime lesson being, in his view, that they must "release the facts, whatever they are, as early and completely as possible" about any "questionable activity," preferably (one assumes) to Woodward himself.


While Woodward's point of view may sound smug or elitist, the Beltway establishment sees itself as patriotic, pious and selfless. In her article last fall, Quinn pointedly described how Washington insiders show up like any villagers for charity events (or at least for the one she cited, for a disease that struck the family of a power couple); in a follow-up this summer, she named names of regular churchgoers in the in-crowd. In a comparable aside in "Shadow," Woodward sermonizes that the octogenarian Gerald Ford spends so much time on private jets and playing golf that he has become woefully out of touch with "millions in poverty, children hungry, the wrenching despair and horror of life for many." (Woodward, apparently, is in touch with these impoverished millions, though as yet his only non-Washington book was about John Belushi, who flamed out amid the wrenching despair of West Hollywood.) There's a desperation to this faux-populist defensiveness, as if Woodward and Quinn know they are out of touch with the country and hope to convince us of their jus' folks credentials.


A decade ago, the Washington Post columnist David Broder, speaking at the National Press Club, had presciently decried "a new hybrid creature, an androgynous binding of politician and journalist called the Washington Insider." He warned that if "the people . . . see us as part of a power-wielding clique of insiders, they're going to be resentful as hell that they have no way to call us to account." That was 1988, and by 1998, his prediction came true -- with Broder himself, now a regular pontificator on CNN and NBC, as proof of the syndrome. Woodward, who used to be scarce on TV, sometimes appeared twice a week on "Larry King Live" at the height of Monicagate, serving as an honorary cohost interviewing other Washington insiders. Throw in all the others gassing day and night, whether politicians or reporters or pundits or indeterminate hyphenates of these callings, and it's clear why '98 was the year that the people became, to use a phrase from the old Broder, "resentful as hell." Had Alice Roosevelt Longworth, Joseph Alsop, James Reston, Betty Beale, Clark Clifford and Bob Woodward all been on TV moralizing about politicians and "the American people" all the time during Watergate, maybe a backlash of resentment against them could have saved Nixon too.

Too Many Marts

And then along came the Clenis.

Good News on the Blogger Front

The current FEC commissioners apparently understand that any rational understanding of how the media exception has been applied means that generally blogs and similar would be covered under it. Though that's no guarantee that a future set of commissioners would feel the same.

Campaign finance reform obsessives squeal like stuck pigs when you dare to suggest that bloggers should be covered. They offer no rational argument in support of their squealing, however.

The Final Corner

The upcoming Iraq election is indeed the final corner to be turned. As Yglesias says, it is the last chance to pull out on our terms. It's going to be messy no matter what, but it's the final chance to say "mission accomplished! we're out of here."

The alternative is 2-3 troop deaths a day until that point that the people in power decide 2-3 troops deaths per day isn't worth it anymore. Since no one can really define what "it" is, and the president has equated leaving with losing, that day is unlikely to come until we have a new president or a sufficient number of Republicans rebel. Sadly, I don't put much faith in that last possibility. While it's somewhat difficult for pro-war Democrats to change their mind and save face, it's almost impossible for the Republicans who went Full Metal Jingo on this war to do so.

Keep digging...

Murtha: Immediate Redeployment

This will certainly shift the debate.

More here.

More Fun With Amy

My back-slapping pal Gilliard takes a whack.

As someone pointed out in comments, there's a pretty good chance the "James Wilcox" she refers to is actually James Wolcott.

Wanker of the Day

Jonah Goldberg


Kurtz doesn't quite stick the knife in himself, but he does let others (including me!) do the talking.

Open Thread

Threads speak much louder than words.

On Blogs

From NPR.

Copyright 2005 National Public Radio (R)
All Rights Reserved
National Public Radio (NPR)

SHOW: News & Notes with Ed Gordon 9:00 AM EST NPR

November 14, 2005 Monday


ED GORDON, host:

Blogging is making everyone a columnist. Once the ground for only a select few, it seems everyone with a computer and a thought is setting up their own site and giving their opinion. But commentator Amy Alexander says she's not one to follow that trend.


Some friends recently asked me why I hadn't set up a blog, you know, a personal Web site that a lot of folks these days use as a diary or to advocate a political viewpoint. I admit that I've entertained the thought of setting up a blog, usually when I'm ranting at TV newscasts or shouting about something I've seen in the day's newspaper. And as I get older, I realize that my opinions have gotten stronger, even if my journalistic experiences have become less varied.

Before I had children, I was the kind of run-and-gun journalist who lived for adventure--riots, earthquakes, forest fires, you name it. If it was jumping off within a thousand miles of me, I was there. But one of the biggest lessons I took away from the many years I've spent in newsrooms is this: Without editors, you are dead, specifically without a copy desk. You might as well be standing in your living room, ranting away, facts be damned.

That brings me back to my point about blogs. Not all blog readers know the difference between pure unfiltered, unedited opinion and good old-fashioned solidly reported news. Yes, I know that bloggers lately have been credited with everything from drumming up mainstream media interest in the overlooked plight of missing black and Latino women to exposing any number of government hacks and mischief-makers. But much of what appears on many blogs is speculation, however well-informed.

And as I read the growing numbers of blogs, it seems to me that the ones that have gained the most popularity in recent years, such as Daily Kos and Atrios, are big on promulgating the same kind of back-slapping, mutual admiration society, white-guy networking that drove me nuts back when I worked in newsrooms, same elite dynamic, different medium.

Some of these political blogs are funded by advertisers which, of course, means that they must, at least to some degree, answer not to ostensibly objective editors but rather to business entities that have a stake in whatever it is the blogger is saying. Thus the veneer of citizen journalist that has been bestowed upon the most successful bloggers is really a misnomer.

Then there is the amount of space that many bloggers spend on minutiae. Who cares where they went over the weekend or how their children did in the science fair and what movies they saw? I mean, if I don't have the time and patience to read such ephemera, I suspect that you don't, either. I certainly don't have the time to write such mundanities or the stomach for having the flotsam and jetsam of my life zapping around the globe, courtesy of the Web. The unfiltered me is fine for my living room, but I am loath to inflict her upon the world.

Don't get me wrong; I do read a few blogs, from Mark Anthony Neal's sober observations on fatherhood and black masculinity to James Wilcox's trenchant observations on politics and social life. At the same time, the proliferation of blogs troubles me. Which brings me to the final reason why I don't blog. Why write for free? Until the day comes when a deep-pocketed benefactor turns up to bankroll such a venture, I'll refrain. And should they emerge, they'd better be fronting an editor, too, an extra pair of eyeballs to keep me from ranting right into the Internet abyss.

GORDON: Amy Alexander is an author and media critic living in Maryland.

Markos is white? I blog for free? So confused.

Blame Canada!

Because the country's gone awry
Tomorrow night, these freaks will fry!

Cheney Cheney Cheney!

Someone's missing in the parade of denials.

Pony Pony Pony!

Okay, earlier I said no more ponies until Bush hit 30. But, I was lying to shut the frilly clothes wearing Pony loving whiny bitch Holden up for awhile. My real plan was to start handing out ponies again when Bush went below 35.

PONY PONY PONY! [Sing it along with The Producers tune for the lyric TONY TONY TONY!]

President Bush's positive job rating continues to fall, touching another new low for his presidency, the latest Harris Interactive poll finds.

Bush's current job approval rating stands at 34%, compared with a positive rating of 88% soon after 9/11, 50% at this time last year, and 40% in August.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

On Booby

One reporter's view, from Will Bunch. Good stuff.

Wen Ho Lee

This case has been dancing around the fringes:

WASHINGTON -- A federal judge found Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus in contempt Wednesday, saying the journalist must reveal his government sources for stories about the criminal investigation of nuclear scientist Wen Ho Lee.

U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer said that "in order to avoid a repetition of the Judith Miller imbroglio," Pincus must contact his sources to inform them of the court's order in case they wish to release him from his pledge of confidentiality.

Miller, a former New York Times reporter, served 85 days in jail for contempt in the CIA leak investigation, agreeing to talk only after she spoke by telephone with her source, former top White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

The ruling is the latest example of court-ordered pressure on journalists to reveal their confidential sources.

Relying on anonymous sources, Pincus and reporters for other news organizations in 1999 identified Lee as the focus of a criminal investigation into the possible theft of nuclear secrets on behalf of China.

I think this case actually raises a lot more interesting questions than the Judith Miller case. Happy to hear arguments on the other side, but I just can't see what journalistic principles are being upheld if journalists are used to launder baseless smears (if this is indeed what happened) against average citizens who aren't in any way public figures.

Craptacular Journalism Award of the Day

Goes to ABC News.

Pernicious Lies

From the Vice President.

Downie Gibberish

From Blitzer today:

BLITZER: Why didn't you immediately inform your readers, when he told you, yes, he had learned about this early on, long before, you know, Bob Novak wrote his column in July of 2003? Why not, without revealing the source, at least tell your readers what's going on?

DOWNIE: Because the source didn't allow us to. The source was insisting on maintaining the confidentiality of this particular part of his interviews with Bob and the rest of these interviews with Bob, for that matter. So we didn't have something we could report at that time.

So, it's not just source identities that are now confidential but the information that they tell you? The Washington Post pays Woodward to discuss things with people he can't tell his readers?

BLITZER: You could have revealed to your readers that an unnamed source had told Bob Woodward about this two years earlier without naming the source.

DOWNIE: At that point, once Bob had told me about this, then a chain of events took place that led to his being asked by the special prosecutor to testify in a deposition, which Bob did on Monday.

I still haven't gotten clear on what this "chain of events" was, but in any case once again why is the content of the conversation itself secret?

BLITZER: There were some days, though, that you could have. You're saying that this happened before October 28th, the day the grand jury expired. That was the day that Scooter Libby was indicted. He came to you a few days earlier. It wasn't until November 3rd that this source came to the prosecutor, to Patrick Fitzgerald and said, "I did have a conversation with Bob Woodward." So there was a period of a week, at least, I'm guessing, that this information could have been disclosed.

DOWNIE: During which time we were still under the confidentiality pledge, as we are as I sit here talking to you right now. That this is a confidential source who does not want us to report on this information. And we're still unable to. We must maintain the sanctity of these source relationships.

So, the "sanctity of these source relationships" means they tell you things you promise not to reveal to your readers?

Bad Democrats

What Stoller says. This is an issue I like to pretend the Democrats are the good guys on, but the fact is they're not. They should be the good guys.

Blogger Ethics


Dick Stauber, Matt Coopers lawyer, just made a very good point on Hardball.

Woodward's souce apparently came forward and told the prosecutor about their conversation. Yet Woodward still says that he is under a confidentiality agreement and needs special permission to reveal what he knows. Stauber asks, "if coming forward and admitting something to a US Attorney isn't waiving confidentiality, then what is?"

Truly, Woody no longer has to worry about crawling up on that cross with Saint Judy. His source spilled the beans to the law. Whatever jeopardy he would be in by revealing his name (and certainly the contents of the conversation) legally or professionally, no longer applies. This means that nothing other than perhaps public embarrassment or some sort of backroom deal between Woodward and the Bush administration are at stake. That is not good enough. There is no reason for Woodward not to report this story.


Over at Romenesko, Paul Lukasiak raises a good point - what the hell kind of journalism involves getting questions pre-cleared?


Downie was a master obfuscator just now with Blitzer. Not in the sense of just not answering questions he may (somewhat) legitimately feel he should, but in totally ducking perfectly legitimate questions.

More when the transcript is up...

Pennsylvania Gets A Pony

Little Ricky is stupid and ugly and no one likes him.

Closed Source Media



This doesn't make either Booby or Pincus look very good:

NEW YORK Walter Pincus, the longtime Washington Post reporter and one of several journalists who testified in the Valerie Plame case, said he believed as far back as 2003 that Bob Woodward had some involvement in the case but he did not pursue the information because Woodward asked him not to.

"He asked me to keep him out of the reporting and I agreed to do that," Pincus said today. His comments followed a Post story today about Woodward's testimony on Monday before special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, in which Woodward reportedly disclosed that a senior White House official told him about Plame's identity as a CIA operative a month before her identity was disclosed publicly.

Everything is Off the Record

Booby's story just doesn't make any sense. Why would you grant confidentiality to something which is "almost gossip" and told to you in an "offhand manner." What ethical issue prevented you from telling the world that an administration source had given you that information as you could do so without revealing the identity of the source? Why could you not tell the world about this when you felt free to share the information with Pincus (denied by him).

Rock On

This is so hip.

Slave Labor

Another reason to love Halliburton.


If I were Booby's editors, and perhaps a wee bit peeved at not being previously informed of what he was up to, and perhaps a wee bit more likely that Pincus, the not celebrity journalist, is telling the truth than Booby is I'd start looking into where Booby got his information for this claim which he made on Larry King:
WOODWARD: No, no. And this is not even a firecracker, but it's true. They did a damage assessment within the CIA, looking at what this did that Joe Wilson's wife was outed. And turned out it was quite minimal damage. They did not have to pull anyone out undercover abroad. They didn't have to resettle anyone. There was no physical danger to anyone and there was just some embarrassment.

So people have kind of compared -- somebody was saying this was Aldridge James or Bob Hanson, big spies. This didn't cause damage.

Even though his own paper reported:

The CIA has not conducted a formal damage assessment, as is routinely done in cases of espionage and after any legal proceedings have been exhausted.

Media Matters addressed this here.


This is horrible.

Mr. Run Amok

Steve Clemons discusses Booby:

The President put his credibility on the line regarding this CIA case. The first White House official in 130 years was indicted because of this case -- and Bob Woodward is saying that it is an insignificant matter. And now he has a "smoking gun"?


New Orleans has its first recorded murder since before the hurricane.

The Poor Man has a Question

So the only question I have is: is Dean Esmay unpatriotic, or does he hate America?

Good question.

The Booby Files

Larry King, 7/11/2005:

KING: We're back with Bob Woodward, author of "The Secret Man: The Story of Watergate's Deep Throat." President Bush said a while back that if there was a leaker in the Judith Miller matter, he will be fired. What if it was Karl Rove?

WOODWARD: You know, I wouldn't jump to any conclusions on that at this point. I think that Rove obviously was talking about this. I have not seen any evidence that he really disclosed the identity of this CIA undercover operative who was married to Joe Wilson, who was the ambassador, former ambassador that they sent on this mission to look for some evidence that maybe Saddam was getting uranium from an African country. So you know, we'll have to let this play itself out.

What's interesting in this "Newsweek," Michael Isikoff had the e- mail that Matt Cooper of "Time" magazine had sent his bureau chief, I guess, in Washington -- this is before the story is published by Bob Novak -- and in the e-mail, Cooper says that he's talked to Rove, and that this is -- what did he -- he called it a "double super secret background source."

KING: You ever heard that before?

WOODWARD: Boy, that's a first. It sounds like Buck Rogers' decoder ring to a certain extent, double super secret background. Which meant, don't disclose. I've got a confidential source here who's giving me some guidance. That happens all the time, not just in Washington, but in journalism.

KING: But the president did say he would fire, if it was connected with this case, whoever it was.

WOODWARD: Well, if it was connected with the illegal part of it. I mean, just talking about her and Joe Wilson, not having the knowledge that -- I think not too many people had the knowledge that she was an undercover operative or had once been one. At the time, she was -- you know, she -- her identity was protected, but she was working in headquarters, as an analyst. So, there's no -- in this case, there's no harm to national security. And her life certainly was not in danger, as best I can tell.

KING: Yeah. But it certainly focuses more attention on your book about the ultimate inside source.

Two questions that people ask the most in connection with the Judith Miller case, is one, she didn't write one word.


KING: She's in jail. Robert Novak wrote the words and nothing's happened to him. Explain those dichotomies.

WOODWARD: Well, I suspect, I don't know, but if you look at this, that Novak got his sources to come forward to the prosecutor and say, yes, we told this to Novak, but we did not know she was an undercover person at all, and that Novak has written that he used the word "operative" because that's something he frequently uses to describe any kind of ward-heeler or politician. So in a sense, part of this disclosure might have been an accident, if you accept Novak at his word, and I would unless there's contrary evidence on this.

But the idea of having a kind of dragnet for all reporters who apparently showed up on phone logs or something like that, and, you know, suppose you had heard about this, Larry, and talking to somebody at lunch, and your name was in a phone record and then they called you before the grand jury. What do you do in a case like that?

KING: Are reporters -- and when "Time" magazine turned over the papers, their editor said, "we're not above the law." When it comes down it to, this is what the law said, we comply. Are you above the law?

WOODWARD: No. Clearly, we're not above the law. But frequently, people disobey the law. And when you do so, you have to be willing to accept the consequences. And in this case, the consequences, I guess, are a four-month jail sentence, and Judy Miller's willing to do that, to stand on this principle of trust. You know, I...

KING: You said you would have done it, too?

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

KING: Go ahead.

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

And this book and Watergate demonstrated, the daily reporting in any newspaper or on CNN illustrates that. And what are you going to do? Are you going to interview all of the public relations people, all of the spokespeople, and that's it? No one else can talk? Imagine, you know, the varnished pablum that would come out.

Okay, enough for now.

The Booby Files

Blitzer, 7/11/2005:

What do you make of this latest development involving Karl Rove?

BOB WOODWARD, AUTHOR, "THE SECRET MAN": I -- I think it's inconclusive at this point. You obviously can't tell, but I think what it highlights and what we're trying to do in this book about Deep Throat, it's kind of a case study about the importance of confidential sources.

And Carl points out in Watergate, like anyone covering this CIA story or any story in Washington, you have many, many sources. And you need to have relationships of trust so they can feel they're safe and protected. This investigation that's been going on for two years is just running like a chain saw right through the lifeline that reporters have to sources who will tell you the truth, what's really going on.


What does the "TIME" magazine decision, our sister publication, the decision to go ahead and hand over Matt Cooper's notes to the federal prosecutor do to that model that you established?

WOODWARD: Well, I don't know enough about it. I just know one thing. Can you imagine Ben Bradlee, the former editor of the "Post," when the prosecutor comes knocking on his door and says, "Turn over Carl Bernstein's notes, or Woodward's notes." He you know -- we can't say on the air what Bradlee would have said to them.

And the reason is not just defiance, it is we need to be able to discover what's going on.

I mean, here Judy Miller is sitting in jail. She didn't even write a story about this. What are they going to do, go around to you, Wolf, and say, "Hey, did you ever talk to anyone about this story?" And so they march you down to the courthouse and say, "OK, go left. Go to the grand jury to testify or go to jail"?

We better wake up to what's going on in the seriousness on the assault on the First Amendment that's taking place right before our eyes.


BLITZER: Bob, did Norman Pearlstein make the right decision or the wrong decision?

WOODWARD: Carl's right. He's a man of conscience, and I'm sure he's been interviewed endlessly about why he did it. I'm telling you Ben Bradlee and Katherine Graham would not have done it.

BERNSTEIN: That's right.

WOODWARD: And that because what it is -- it's undermining the core function in journalism. If the people out there who watch television, read the newspapers, want public relations experts and spokespersons to define all of the news, fine, because that's exactly what's going to happen.

You have to be able to call people. I mean, Wolf, you know this. You lived by the unnamed source when you were covering the Pentagon during various wars and so forth. And if somebody is going to come by and sever that, then you will have the Pentagon spokesman on your show instead of somebody who's really trying to get to the bottom of what's going on.

The Booby Files

Hardball, 7/11/2005:

So, let`s talk about what`s going on right now. Judy Miller sits in D.C. jail tonight, apparently sleeping on the floor, according to a report I read in one of the papers today.


MATTHEWS: Because she won`t tell her who her source is in the leak case.


MATTHEWS: In the leak case involving Joe Wilson and that trip to Niger.

WOODWARD: And that case, when I think it is all told, there is going to be nothing to it. And it is a shame. And the special prosecutor in that case, his behavior, in my view, has been disgraceful.

MATTHEWS: Well, how does he prove...

WOODWARD: That he has not...

MATTHEWS: How does he catch the bad guy?

WOODWARD: Well, he can keep trying. But I think -- look, she didn`t even write a story. Come on. What are you going to do?

I mean, did you ever talk to anybody about this case? Why don`t we just take the whole damn press corps and line them up and everyone can go to the grand jury or jail, because somebody might have talked to somebody about this?


MATTHEWS: Well, was this, then, a crime? We`re talking about a crime.

WOODWARD: I don`t think there`s any crime.

MATTHEWS: There is a crime on the books now. Just so we know what -- there is a statute that punishes someone who gives away the undercover identity of an FBI agent.

WOODWARD: Intentionally, and a law written because Philip Agee back in the `80s was listing all the people who were undercover agents.

Novak has explained this, Bob Novak, who wrote the original story, and said, he was told this woman, Joe Wilson`s wife, was a weapons of mass destruction analyst in the CIA. He called her an operative because that`s one of the terms he uses in his column. He didn`t know. And...


MATTHEWS: He uses that word all the time. It is not exactly a fond word, is it?

WOODWARD: You`re an operative.

MATTHEWS: I was an operative.

WOODWARD: Yes, right.

MATTHEWS: Everybody who has ever worked in politics is an operative.

WOODWARD: Exactly.


WOODWARD: And so, it turned out she was an operative. This is an accident. I think the judge in the case also should have found some way to balance...



WOODWARD: ... the interests here.

MATTHEWS: Congress is looking -- Congress -- excuse me, Bob.


MATTHEWS: Congress is looking at passing a shield law, meaning something like the priesthood or a rabbi.


MATTHEWS: If you to tell somebody -- to somebody something that`s important, and they don`t want to say where they got it from, and you don`t want them to say where they got it from, that that`s privileged information. It`s like going to a confession. You go to a reporter.

Do you think Congress will pass that? Do you think they should?

WOODWARD: I think it would help. But you know what we need here? Common sense.

MATTHEWS: Would you testify?

WOODWARD: Common sense.

MATTHEWS: Would you go to the Hill? If somebody asked you in a press freedoms organization, and said, Bob Woodward, will you come to Capitol Hill and testify for a shield law?

WOODWARD: I don`t know that a reporter should testify. Maybe I -- I definitely would be in favor...

MATTHEWS: Why not?

WOODWARD: I don`t -- I don`t know.

MATTHEWS: Well, isn`t it tradecraft? Isn`t this something that reporters need?

WOODWARD: I don`t know. I think we need -- yes, I think so. But I think common sense would solve the problem.

Look, we are in -- what`s going on in America and the world now? Terror. We are engaged in a war on terror.

MATTHEWS: Fifteen seconds, hard. Bob Woodward...

WOODWARD: OK. And it -- it -- it is a big deal. And we need, in my business, confidential sources. And you`re going to freeze everyone from telling us the truth if you send reporters to jail.

The Booby Files

Fresh Air, 7/7/2005

My guest today is Bob Woodward. Yesterday New York Times reporter Judith Miller was jailed for refusing to reveal the identity of a confidential source to a grand jury. Yesterday was also the day that Bob Woodward's book about Deep Throat was published. It's called "The Secret Man." We're going to hear his thoughts about Miller's jailing and his reflections on his own use of confidential sources, including Deep Throat.

Let's start with the jailing of Miller. Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald wants her to reveal to a grand jury what she knows about the leak that Valerie Plame was an undercover CIA officer. Plame's husband, the former ambassador, Joseph Wilson, believes her identity was leaked as payback for his criticisms of the Bush administration. Matt Cooper of Time magazine also faced prison for refusing to name his source, even after Time magazine decided to hand over Cooper's e-mails and notes to the grand jury. But at the last minute, Cooper's source released Cooper from the confidentiality pledge and Cooper agreed to testify to the grand jury. I asked Woodward his reaction to Miller's jailing.

Mr. BOB WOODWARD (Journalist): I think the judge and the special prosecutor made a big mistake, and they should not send her off to jail. There is not the kind of compelling evidence that there was some crime involved here, and my reaction is we ought to wake up and make sure that reporters have access to what's really going on in the government, particularly now given these terrorist attacks in London. That is when the press has to watch what the government is doing and do the kind of accountability reporting that is essential. You can't do it unless you have confidential sources. The high-profile case--it will freeze people up. They will be very reluctant to help people, like myself, who are trying to find out what's going on in the investigative, national security, counterterrorist world.

GROSS: Well, do you think that a terrorist attack like the one in London today--do you think living in times of terrorism is an argument for more reliance on confidentiality by reporters or is it an argument that the government should have more power to insist the journalists reveal who their confidential sources are for the greater good?

Mr. WOODWARD: It would depend on the case, but in this case involving Judy Miller, the woman who was the CIA undercover operative was working in CIA headquarters. There was no national security threat. There was no jeopardy to her life. There was no nothing. When I think all of the facts come out in this case, it's going to be laughable because the consequences are not that great. If it involves some source in a terrorist organization where the government was trying to find out who was plotting the next attack in America and so forth, you would have a very different set of conditions, and I think probably in those cases, reporters would want to assist the government.

GROSS: Matt Cooper said that, you know, his source released him from the confidentiality agreement at the last minute, so Cooper's going to testify to the grand jury. But both Judy Miller and Matt Cooper said they wouldn't respect the waiver of confidentiality forms that investigators had given out, and they considered those forms coercive. What do you know about those forms and do you think we've entered into a new era with these waivers of confidentiality forms?

Mr. WOODWARD: Well, I can't tell you how terrible it is to have the government running around saying, `Oh, we want you to sign this waiver of confidentiality to reporters so we can get at not just who their sources are but try to figure out who was talking in the government and who reporters are talking to.' It's almost worse than the jailing of a reporter, because the sweep and scope of it is so large. You know, again, it's one of these things, it kind of starts in a small way, and then it becomes a very large issue, and you're going to choke off the flow of good information, particularly the kinds of information that the government doesn't want out, and that's often what needs to be published first.

GROSS: Has there ever been an effort like this to pressure confidential sources to release reporters from the pledge of confidentiality?

Mr. WOODWARD: Not to my knowledge and certainly not on this scale.

GROSS: The editor in chief of Time, who decided to turn in documents to the grand jury, said, `We are not above the law.' What do you think of that statement and do you think Judith Miller has put herself above the law?

Mr. WOODWARD: No, she clearly has said, and the editor of The New York Times has said, this is an act of civil disobedience. She has submitted herself to the law. She said she considers the higher interest here keeping her pledge of confidentiality, that that's even higher than her liberty, her freedom, so she's willing to go to jail. The remedy here, if I may go back to Watergate, was what Judge Sirica did 30-plus years ago, when there were competing interests between a prosecutor who wanted Nixon's tapes and Nixon, who was asserting executive privilege, much like a reporter's privilege, in a condition like that. What did Judge Sirica do? He didn't say, `Turn over the tapes to the grand jury in totality.' He said, `Bring them to me. I'll listen. I will measure the competing interests,' and he then did that, and he turned some parts of the tapes over that he thought were relevant, and he kept the rest confidential. A judge can do that. It's too bad Judge Hogan didn't find a middle course in this case.

GROSS: You know, in The New York Times editorial today, the editorial said that this is far from an ideal case. What makes this case far from ideal?

Mr. WOODWARD: Well, it's not a classic whistle-blower, and the issues don't really involve national security or people's lives or jeopardy, or I think in the end, we will find there's not really corruption here. It is such a complex case with players on issues that are not the kind of, you know, `We're publishing the truth so the public can learn that a president is a criminal,' for instance.

GROSS: Does this case say anything larger to you about how the government is using its power or do you think that would be going too far...

Mr. WOODWARD: Well, what's...

GROSS: generalize in this case?

Mr. WOODWARD: ...interesting here, I think if you had the Bush administration people on your show, they would say they don't like this either. What they did is they appointed a special prosecutor, who has total independence. This harkens back to the days of the independent counsels going after Bill Clinton. Once you get one appointed, they have a mandate to almost go anywhere and, you know, I think one of the independent counsels, special prosecutors for the Clinton administration is still working now more than four years after the presidency ended. So this special prosecutor in the Judy Miller case has got all of this authority and independence, and it's the peril of giving somebody that kind of blank check.

The Booby Files

Not all of these will be exciting, but I'm going to pull every instance I can find of Booby discussing the Plame issue. Chris Matthews Show, 5/2/2004:

Ms. BROWN: Well I think Andrea hit the nail on the head, meaning that everyone on the inside, with the exception of Armitage, was a Cheney guy. Now there is a hitch, and--and we've been talking about this, but Joe Wilson, Ambassador Joe Wilson, has a book that's out now, which goes after Cheney's top guy: Scooter Libby, his chief of staff, who is--also has a long history with many of the other people who have been advising the president. And it--there's an ongoing investigation into who leaked Wilson's wife's name, an undercover CIA agent, to reporters and made it public. And his is pointing the finger at Scooter Libby in his book.

Mr. WOODWARD: Does--does he have any evidence, though? Or is this just a guess, surmised?

Ms. BROWN: It is--he...

Mr. WOODWARD: I wish it was Scooter Libby.

Ms. BROWN: ...he says--he's very careful in the wording, for legal reasons...

MATTHEWS: You're saying you think he's saying that.

Ms. BROWN: But he says he believes, based on everyone he's talked to and all the sleuthing that has been done, but in terms of saying, 'Here is hard evidence,' no.

Mr. WOODWARD: So the answer is no evidence.

Larry King, 6/4/04:

KING: Hillsboro, North Carolina, hello.

CALLER: Hello. I'd like to ask if you have any insight about President Bush's contacting a private attorney regarding the Ambassador Wilson's wife situation?

KING: Yes, he said he would -- did he say he would?

WOODWARD: He said he has. It wasn't clear what that meant. I don't know what it means. It certainly is interesting. The White House counsel, the government lawyers would tell the president if there's any investigation where he might have to testify or there might be some even somewhat remote connection to him, they cannot provide private legal advice. They are government lawyers and so it would be quite natural for him to check with the private lawyers, you know.

When Clinton was president, he had half of Washington on the payroll, the private attorneys, it seemed, and so that's quite natural, but it's interesting and something to be pursued in that inquiry. Are they going to ask the president to go before the grand jury or make a statement or something like that? It's conceivable in the interest of thoroughness that they might do that.

Cheney Covers for Lying Oil Executives

This is pretty stunning. Oil companies deny (stupidly) participating in Cheney's energy task force. The lie to Congress. Cheney doesn't bother to correct the record.

A White House document shows that executives from big oil companies met with Vice President Cheney's energy task force in 2001 -- something long suspected by environmentalists but denied as recently as last week by industry officials testifying before Congress.

The document, obtained this week by The Washington Post, shows that officials from Exxon Mobil Corp., Conoco (before its merger with Phillips), Shell Oil Co. and BP America Inc. met in the White House complex with the Cheney aides who were developing a national energy policy, parts of which became law and parts of which are still being debated.

In a joint hearing last week of the Senate Energy and Commerce committees, the chief executives of Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and ConocoPhillips said their firms did not participate in the 2001 task force. The president of Shell Oil said his company did not participate "to my knowledge," and the chief of BP America Inc. said he did not know.

Chevron was not named in the White House document, but the Government Accountability Office has found that Chevron was one of several companies that "gave detailed energy policy recommendations" to the task force. In addition, Cheney had a separate meeting with John Browne, BP's chief executive, according to a person familiar with the task force's work; that meeting is not noted in the document.

Open Thread

How can the thread with its arms all around me?

Open Thread

No thread can take your place, you know what I mean. We have the same intrigue as a court of kings.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

'Twas the Night Before Fitzmas

And all through CNN's house, Booby was bleating...Larry King, 10/27.

First, the foreshadow:

KING: We're in Washington where things are hopping and we're going to follow up again tomorrow night. We're going to lead this round with Bob Woodward as we turn to tomorrow.

But, Michael Isikoff whispered to me during the break that he has a key question he'd like to ask Mr. Woodward, so I don't know what this is about.

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

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

KING: Come clean.

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

No firecracker, Booby? Uhh, it seems that you did have a wee chat with a Mr. X, if not THE Mr. X. As if that matters

Then the fake ignorance:

WOODWARD: But Michael's point is exactly right. There is deep mystery here. It only grows with time and people are speculating and there are -- there is so little that people really know.

Now there are a couple of things that I think are true. First of all this began not as somebody launching a smear campaign that it actually -- when the story comes out I'm quite confident we're going to find out that it started kind of as gossip, as chatter and that somebody learned that Joe Wilson's wife had worked at the CIA and helped him get this job going to Niger to see if there was an Iraq/Niger uranium deal.

Then the diminishing of importance. Nothing to see here folks, and, uh, I'm just guessing!

WOODWARD: And it doesn't leak and I think it's quite possible that though probably unlikely that he will say, you know, there was no malice or criminal intent at the start of this. Some people kind of had convenient memories before the grand jury. Technically they might be able to be charged with perjury.

But I don't see an underlying crime here and the absence of the underlying crime may cause somebody who is a really thoughtful prosecutor to say, you know, maybe this is not one to go to the court with.

KING: You're saying this is a maybe.

WOODWARD: A maybe, only a maybe.

Then the real issue. I've got some stenography to do, damnit!

WOODWARD: Yes, yes, it is. And I've been able to travel a little bit. And I'm trying to do a book on the Bush second term. And I think it's going to be a multivolume of work. Because...


WOODWARD: There is much here. But one thing's very clear, emotionally, the war in Iraq is at the center of where the country is. Not Valerie Plame, not the Supreme Court, because you go out into the country and the senators know this, and there are people everywhere who have family member, sons, daughters, who were there, some -- and people are on edge about this. And let's face it, the defining decision that George W. Bush made as president is to start that war.


WOODWARD: I think factually, David, I'm sorry. I don't know how this is about the build-up to the war, the Valerie Plame-Wilson issue.


I don't have the time now to do the full forensics, but there are reasons this is rather important, especially the numerous media appearances Booby made trying to throw cold water on this story without bothering to reveal his little conflict. I'm sure a blogger ethics panel could clear all this up:
Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward testified under oath Monday in the CIA leak case that a senior administration official told him about CIA operative Valerie Plame and her position at the agency nearly a month before her identity was disclosed.

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

There's a lot more in there, and I'm sure the advanced Plameologists will have much to discuss, including the Pincus/Booby catfight. Meeow!


Josh Marshall teases...

Obviously Ted's a Regular Reader

On Strip Search Sammy:

Kennedy said Alito, 55, told him he wrote the memo as someone "who was interested in getting a job" in the Justice Department as deputy assistant attorney general.

"So I asked him, 'Why shouldn't we consider that the answers you are giving today are an application for another job?" Kennedy said.

The Trial of the Century

I think this is going to be a hell of a lot of fun. I especially look forward to journalists arguing that they deserve a blanket immunity from testifying about anything anytime even when the testimony being sought has nothing to do with a confidential source relationship:

WASHINGTON, Nov. 15 - Lawyers for I. Lewis Libby Jr., the former White House official indicted on perjury charges, plan to seek testimony from journalists beyond those cited in the indictment and will probably challenge government agreements limiting their grand jury testimony, people involved in the case said Tuesday.

"That's clearly going to be part of the strategy - to get access to all the relevant records and determine what did the media really know," said a lawyer close to the defense who spoke on condition of anonymity.

At Mr. Libby's arraignment this month, his lawyers alluded to using a First Amendment defense in fighting the charges, but they have declined to say what that strategy might entail.

In interviews, lawyers close to the case made clear that the defense team plans to pursue aggressively access to reporters' notes beyond the material cited in the indictment and plans to go to the trial judge, Reggie B. Walton of United States District Court, to compel disclosure as one of their first steps.

Lucy Dalglish gets stupid as usual:

The prospect of another legal battle over access to reporters' records "could be worse for the media" than the Miller showdown, said Lucy Dalglish, head of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. "You now have a situation where you have a government investigation hung completely on testimony from journalists, with journalists turned into witnesses, and that is a scary notion."

Yes, but notice now that we're talking about journalists being called as witnesses for the defense which is something else entirely. But, more to the point, the fact that you have a cute little button which says "kiss me I'm a journalist!" does not make you immune from ever having to testify about anything. I'm sympathetic to genuine confidential source relationships, but there's nothing we've heard yet which tells us that this is what is at stake. There's nothing inherently "scary" about a journalist testifying for the defense at a criminal trial.

This could be a hell of a lot of fun.

Hagel Jumps

Certainly Hagel has never been an extreme cheerleader for this war and administration, but the occasional muttered note of concern has done little other than increase his stock in our media obsessed with certain kinds of maverickness. He's taken a bigger step here I think:

Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) strongly criticized yesterday the White House's new line of attack against critics of its Iraq policy, saying that "the Bush administration must understand that each American has a right to question our policies in Iraq and should not be demonized for disagreeing with them."

With President Bush leading the charge, administration officials have lashed out at Democrats who have accused the administration of manipulating intelligence to justify the war in Iraq. Bush has suggested that critics are hurting the war effort, telling U.S. troops in Alaska on Monday that critics "are sending mixed signals to our troops and the enemy. And that's irresponsible."

Hagel, a Vietnam War veteran and a potential presidential candidate in 2008, countered in a speech to the Council of Foreign Relations that the Vietnam War "was a national tragedy partly because members of Congress failed their country, remained silent and lacked the courage to challenge the administrations in power until it was too late."

"To question your government is not unpatriotic -- to not question your government is unpatriotic," Hagel said, arguing that 58,000 troops died in Vietnam because of silence by political leaders. "America owes its men and women in uniform a policy worthy of their sacrifices."


I hate when Crazy Andy is almost reasonable.

Final Days

Ah, memories.

Open Thread

I beg to leave, to hear your wonderous threads.

Has Bush Lost It?

Certainly stories like this should be taken with giant boulders of salt, but if Bush is going Nixon crazy on us someone shold find out.

Arrested Development

Agreed. Great show. Fox are idiots. Another network, or even HBO, should take the damn thing off their hands if they don't want it.

Get season 1 and season 2.

Run Away! Run Away!

Defensetech calls foul on attempts to distance Rummy from any responsibility for invading iraq.

Open Thread

Have you heard of a thread that will help us get it together again? Have you heard of the thread that will stop us going wrong?

"Open Source Media"

PJ Media's name gets worse.

Don't anyone tell Chris Lydon. Something tells me his Open Source Media, Inc., isn't the same one...

Afternoon Reading

Altercation is good today.

Sammy Strip Search: Proud Liar

As I keep saying, serious case of white guy entitlement syndrome.

Can I point out that he's admitted he's willing to lie in order to get a job during what amounts to a job interview?

No Matter What

Yglesias is exactly right. For quite some time the administration and its defenders have been proudly claiming that they would've invaded Iraq even if they didn't believe all that stuff about balsa wood drones of mass destruction or whatever.

I guess this brings us back to that age old question. Why did we invade Iraq?

Reid Statement on Iraq

Washington, DC - Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid delivered the following statement at a press conference today following the Senate's vote on Iraq amendments.

“Let me tell you the President’s strategy in Iraq - no plan and no end in sight. Our troops deserve better. That’s why Democrats forced Republicans to admit that “staying the course” is not an option.

“As stated in the amendment, the Senate just voted overwhelmingly to change the policy of the United States with regard to Iraq. Republicans admitted what Democrats have been saying all along – the administration’s strategy is aimless and rudderless. It’s a victory for our troops and the American people. If Democrats hadn’t acted, our Republican colleagues would have been fine going along with the administration’s “no plan, no end” approach.

“The contrast between Democrats and the Bush Administration could not be clearer. Democrats offered a clear way forward and a strategy for success in Iraq. Rather than trying to score political points and mischaracterizing the Democratic amendment with language that isn’t even in there, we think the top priority of Republicans should be succeeding in Iraq.

“Democrats know that the road to success requires a plan and accountability from the administration. That’s all we’ve asked for, and our troops deserve nothing less.”


I haven't really had anything to add but I've been enjoying the discussion of Dowd's ruminations on feminism (NYT magazine article here, book can be purchased here).

Majikthise has thoughts. I'm generally happy to defer to Katha Pollitt on these issues. Amanda comments here.


While it's certainly the case that on many issues the Democrats should wait until we get a little closer to '06 before announcing a grand policy agenda, they would be well-served to start talking very very loudly about this horrible Republican medicare drug plan. This is the kind of plan you'd get if you locked hat, cog, and Toby in the room with Grover Norquist and a pharmaceutical executive and told them that they had to create one. It's awful. It's horrible. It's confusing. It's expensive. It's a disaster.

The Dems need to make sure people understand whose plan this was, and how if they were in power they can and would pass legislation in about 5 seconds to make it better.

Hours of Laughter

Oh this is just too good to be true. $3.5 million for a 24/7 implementation of the Chewbacca Defense.


Wow. Alito really is a piece of work.

Shorter Fred Kaplan

Bush is now saying "You fucked up - you trusted us!"

Gulf Reconstruction Watch

They're paying attention because no one else seems to be.


EJ Dionne reminds us of the history so many are pretending to forget:

The big difference between our current president and his father is that the first President Bush put off the debate over the Persian Gulf War until after the 1990 midterm elections. The result was one of most substantive and honest foreign policy debates Congress has ever seen, and a unified nation. The first President Bush was scrupulous about keeping petty partisanship out of the discussion.

The current President Bush did the opposite. He pressured Congress for a vote before the 2002 election, and the war resolution passed in October.

Sen. Joe Biden, a Delaware Democrat who is no dove, warned of rushing "pell-mell" into an endorsement of broad war powers for the president. The Los Angeles Times reported that Sen. Richard Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, protested in September: "We're being asked to go to war, and vote on it in a matter of days. We need an intelligence estimate before we can seriously vote." And Rep. Tom Lantos, a California Democrat, put it plainly: "This will be one of the most important decisions Congress makes in a number of years; I do not believe it should be made in the frenzy of an election year." But it was.

Grand talk about liberating Iraq gave way to cheap partisan attacks. In New Mexico, Republican Steve Pearce ran an advertisement against Democrat John Arthur Smith declaring: "While Smith 'reflects' on the situation, the possibility of a mushroom cloud hovering over a U.S. city still remains." Note that Smith wasn't being attacked for opposing the war, only for reflecting on it. God forbid that any Democrat dare even think before going to war.

Marc Racicot, then chairman of the Republican National Committee, said about the late Sen. Paul Wellstone's opposition to the war resolution: "He has set about to diminish the capacity of this nation to defend itself. That is a legitimate issue." Wellstone, who died in a plane crash a few days before the election, was not intimidated. But other Democrats were.

Open Thread

I asked my love to give me shelter And all she offered me were threads.

They Ask Questions

An email to Josh Marshall:

I've obviously missed something. When did it become appropriate for the Commander-in-Chief to go onto a military installation before a military crowd and denounce the opposition party? I cannot remember a time in my 21-year career when anything remotely like this happened. Is it just me or are we embarked on something very dark and dangerous for our democracy?

I don't know the answer to this. It may actually be perfectly normal presidential behavior. It isn't presidential behavior I remember from the past, but my memory might just be faulty. I'm happy to judge Bush's speech as being highly inappropriate on its own terms, and if someone can bring me some comparable example from the Clenis I'll happily denounce that too.





I'll wait until the final result, but there may be some success in fighting back the anti-American senators.

The Matador

Went to a screening of "The Matador" tonight. While I wouldn't call it a "must see" I'd certainly recommend seeing it. The writing is good, the direction is good if a bit uneven in style and pacing at times, but the movie really shines as an actor's movie. Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear, and Hope Davis are all hilariously excellent in their roles. Brosnan and Kinnear especially have a lot of fun with their characters. The plot, which revolves around Brosnan the hit man befriending the straightlaced Kinnear, is not entirely convincing but is nonetheless interesting as it's unpredictable without relying on unbelievable shock plot twists.

The writer/director Richard Shepard spoke before/after the show, emphasizing the fact that he'd pretty much resigned himself to loserhood before miraculously getting Brosnan's attention. While aspects of the direction could be improved - as I said the style and pacing was a bit inconsistent at times - overall it was surprisingly good. A wee bit reminiscent in ways of Almodovar and a nonviolent Tarantino.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Shorter Bush Administration

You fucked up - you trusted us!

Yes, this is a repeat joke. And the joke will be repeated as long as they keep making the argument.

O'Reilly's Got a Little List

If someday it may happen that a victim must be found
I've got a little list, I've got a little list
Of society's offenders who may well be underground
And who never would be missed, they never would be missed.

A Boy Named Lindsey

Why does Lindsey Graham hate America?

The Arrest Wing

That sounds like a great idea.

(thanks to oddbit)

Open Thread

Leaving all the changes far from far behind. we relieve the tension only to find out the thread's name.


It's always sort of amusing when conservatives point to the presence of such high end luxury gadgets as television sets and DVD players (real or imagined) as evidence that poor people are living large.

Once upon a time television sets were quite expensive. Once upon a time DVD players were quite expensive. They aren't anymore. You can get a DVD player for about the cost of a DVD these days and a nice 19" color TV for a hundred bucks. A similiar TV cost about $500 in 1980, which is about $1150 adjusting for inflation.

That doesn't even take into account the fact that you can pick them up for practically nothing at any yard sale, or frequently for nothing as people leave their old working ones out as trash.

It's lovely that poor people can afford some of the gadgets the rest of us have, and we can consider that some small improvement in quality of life. But it's not evidence that they're well off or irresponsible with what little money they do have.

TVs are cheap.

Ponies All Around

Because I'm feeling generous:

Fewer than one in 10 adults say they would prefer a congressional candidate who is a Republican and who agrees with Bush on most major issues, according to a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll taken Friday through Sunday. Even among Republicans, seven of 10 are most likely to back a candidate who has at least some disagreements with the president.

Bush's job approval rating sank to a record low 37%. The poll finds growing criticism of the president, unease about the nation's direction and opposition to the Iraq war.


For the first time — albeit by a narrow 49%-48% — a plurality disapprove of the way Bush is handling the issue of terrorism. Six in 10 disapprove of the way he's handling foreign affairs, the economy, Iraq and immigration, and 71% disapprove of him on controlling federal spending.

• A 53% majority say they trust what Bush says less than they trusted previous presidents while they were in office. In a specific comparison with President Clinton, those surveyed by 48%-36% say they trust Bush less.

• A record high 60% say going to war in Iraq was "not worth it." In a finding consistent with previous polls, 54% say it was "a mistake" to send troops there.

Support Bloggers

Whether you want to support Josh Marshall's growing professional empire or provide beer/rent money to your favorite "amateur" blogger it really is a good idea to throw a little support behind your favorite bloggers now and then. While it's easy and fun to set up a blog and post about things now and then, it's much harder to stay in the game consistently longer term, and that's something which really is necessary to build up the audience/credibility which allows someone to have a larger impact. Inevitably that pulls people somewhat away from family/career/etc.

I personally probably won't be making any fundraising pitches unless either my financial situation changes or I have a grand idea for empire expansion, though I of course always appreciate the tips, but please consider donating a bit now and again to your favorite bloggers.

Liberal News

Uh, maybe we don't watch a lot of TV news because it's all conservative? God TV execs are idiots. suggested in comments, the Daily Show is exhibit A for an audience. And, it isn't as if Jon Stewart is all Republican bashing all the time, he just recognizes that questioning and mocking powerful people and institutions is a worthy endeavor. If Democrats controlled everything Stewart would be mocking them and likely have roughly the same audience. A quality liberal news channel wouldn't or shouldn't be the mirror image of the Fox News channnel. The problem with Fox isn't that it's conservative, the problem with Fox is that it's Republican.

Tiny Penis Syndrome

It's really the only thing that explains it.

Boycott Target

Seems like a no brainer to me. To me, the point of consumer boycotts is to achieve a specific goal and not just to "punish bad companies" in some general sense. The latter is fine too, but it's difficult initiate, maintain, and quantify. Here we have a national chain store which a lot of people choose to shop at as an alternative to a certain other unpopular national chain store, and it's engaging in a very specific and very indefensible behavior.

Boycott Target.


I tried a couple of times to address just what was wrong with Matt Bai's NYT Magazine piece, even thought it's just a variation of what's wrong with basically every Matt Bai piece - he just thinks Democrats are icky. Eric Alterman takes care of it pretty well.

Newspaper, Heal Thyself

Shocking behavior by the New York Times.

Wanker of the Day



Douglas Holtz-Eakin is perhaps the last of his kind in Bush's Washington.

$3.5 Million

Oh this is going to provide so many laughs...

Of course, as long as there are suckers to be parted with their money there will be other people making that money.

Good Point


[A]fter all, if a biased, incompetent reporter with no training in science can be employed to cover science issues at a moderately prestigious outfit like NPR, why can't a clueless hack of a creationist get a job in biology at a major state university?

Bye Roe

It's the Moonie Times, but even it gets things right now and then:

Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr., President Bush's Supreme Court nominee, wrote that "the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion" in a 1985 document obtained by The Washington Times.
"I personally believe very strongly" in this legal position, Mr. Alito wrote on his application to become deputy assistant to Attorney General Edwin I. Meese III.
The document, which is likely to inflame liberals who oppose Judge Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court, is among many that the White House will release today from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

Shorter New York Times

Why can't Blogs be more like Time magazine?

Anyway, the latest round of judging all blogs by one blog, or in this case one set of stories on a blog. It's like passing judgment on the medium of "print publishing" by focusing on an issue of Juggs magazine.

...just wanted to add that I certainly don't even agree with the substance of the criticisms about gawker, but even if they had validity it's still a ridiculous article.

Open Thread

As I see a new thread in me, I can also show if you and you may follow.

Linse's Law


Sunday, November 13, 2005

Your Liberal Media

Anyone know if Fred Hiatt has signed up to go to Iraq yet? Sure, he's 50, a bit past prime fighting age, but I'm sure he could find something useful to do.

Endless Laughter

The Launch is coming. Maybe Jeebus DOES like me.

Habeas Corpus

I haven't written anything about this because I have this naive hope that there's some weird political jiu jitsu going on and the passage of the Bingaman amendment is inevitable.

If not, then the question must be asked: why do Joe Lieberman and Ron Wyden hate America?

"We Do Not Torture"

Oh, er, uh, never mind.

Sunday Cat Blogging

Video of Wiley demanding some attention.

Open Thread

Distant as the distant thunder Where equal threads will rent asunder.

"We Don't Torture"


WASHINGTON (AFX) - CIA interrogators apparently tried to cover up the death of an Iraqi 'ghost detainee' who died while being interrogated at Abu Ghraib prison, Time magazine reported today, after obtaining hundreds of pages of documents, including an autopsy report, about the case.

The death of secret detainee Manadel al-Jamadi was ruled a homicide in a Defense Department autopsy, Time reported, adding that documents it recently obtained included photographs of his battered body, which had been kept on ice to keep it from decomposing, apparently to conceal the circumstances of his death.


Josh Marshall has this exactly right:

What this country will end up needing is something like a Truth and Reconciliation Commission because what the country needs is not so much for particular people to go to jail but for the lies and the lies to cover up earlier lies to stop. The country can't get past what has happened or move forward until we can get the truth on the table, deal with it and move on.

This is what the Kristof's of the world miss. We can't move on until everyone understands how we got here.


We'll have to get Bill Frist to make one of his patented video diagnoses to be sure, but this amateur telephysician says the diagnosis is an acute case of shitfacedness.

I always believe everything I read in the tabloids.

It's My Blog

Frogs and Ravens discusses blog comments:

On the one extreme of the spectrum are those who believe simultaneously that (a) blogs should not post anything that might offend them, even if they are only visiting a given blog on a first-time fly-by and (b) that anything should be allowed in the comment threads, up to and including insulting the blog owner and his or her other commenters. I call this the "The World Exists to Serve Me" contingent.

On the other extreme are those who believe that (a) blog owners can say whatever the hell they want, however they want, and if the people visiting the blog don't like it, they can go away (common rallying cry, "No one's making you read this blog") and (b) blog owners can do whatever they want with regards to their comments threads -- ban randomly, edit comments according to their own whims, refuse to have any comments, ban people who disagree with them, etc. I call this "It's My Blog and I Can Do What I Want" crowd.


This is one thing that I think proves challenging to a lot of people new to the blogosphere (as well as a few tone-deaf old hands). The blogosphere is not a uniform, homogenous place, operating according to universal rules and expectations. (My god, how boring it would be if that were so.) Instead, the blogosphere varies with the whims and inclinations of each blog host and each commenting community. Some places are fine with profanity, others aren't. Some specialize in trading witty one-offs; others prefer thoughtful, meandering conversations. Some are snarky and sarcastic; some are warm and touchy-feely. Some develop small, close-knit communities into which a newcomer must ease slowly and cautiously; others are big raucous public parties that anyone can jump into without prior experience. The blogosphere is anything but homogenous.

However, to a newcomer, it often looks that way, so the clueless go around bulling their way into existing conversations, committing social faux pas, etc. until someone calls them on it. The honestly clueless wise up, learn to "read the room" and adjust their commenting styles to the norms of each particular blog and its attendent culture.

More at the link...

(via Rox)

Flippity Floppity

One thing's clear, there was no intelligent design behind Little Ricky:

BEAVER FALLS - U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum said Saturday that he doesn't believe that intelligent design belongs in the science classroom.

Santorum's comments to The Times are a shift from his position of several years ago, when he wrote in a Washington Times editorial that intelligent design is a "legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in the classroom."

But on Saturday, the Republican said that, "Science leads you where it leads you."

(thanks to reader d)

Sony Hell

I've been watching with amusement the tale of Sony, whose copy protection system on some CDs they sell installs nasty unremovable malware on your computer.

As nasty as that is, I think it's trumped by aspects of their EULA. Apparently, according to Sony, if you declare bankruptcy you are legally required to delete all your music.
You can't make this shit up.

Needless to say, I'd recommend not buying any Sony CDs in the future.

(via slashdot)


This WaPo story suggests what we probably know to be true. Fitz has always been aiming at Cheney, and Libby has rather clumsily covering for him.

It's interesting really. For a long time I think it was CW that this all led back to Rove based on Rove's general approach to things ("fuck him like he's never been fucked before!") That drove a lot of speculation about the sitation. But, all along, The Snarl was up at the top of the pyramid.

I understand the concept of loyalty, but not the kind of hierarchical loyalty we see here in which loyalty involves underlings taking the fall for their bosses. True loyalty is a two way thing, but it looks like Cheney threw his pal under a bus.

Constitution in Exile

Nothing drives the Right more insane than daring to point out what they're up to.

Sunday Bobbleheads

Document the atrocities.

Open Thread

More in the mind than the body this feeling, a sense at the end Of a circular thread.

Passion of the Assrocket