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As you know here

As you know, here at TPM we've been reporting on the 2002 New Hampshire phone-jamming case for going on three years. There have now been a couple of guilty pleas. The former executive director of the state GOP is in prison. And, as we were the first to report, Jim Tobin, the former Northeast political director of the NRSC who orchestrated the scam, is now awaiting trial.

Now, in 2002 the NRSC (the National Republican Senatorial Committee) was run by Sen. Frist. Tobin worked for Frist. And Tobin is now under indictment for criminal conspiracy and election tampering for what he did while working as Frist's regional political director for the Northeast.

Not surprisingly, Republicans have tried to distance themselves from Tobin's action, implying that, if guilty, Tobin's scheme was no more than one man's rogue operation. Frist has basically managed to avoid answering any questions about it for two years.

But now comes word that Tobin's legal bills may be being paid by the RNC.

Today's Manchester Union Leader -- not exactly a liberal sheet -- reports that recently filed court documents show that one of Tobin's attorneys was representing him "in his capacity as an employee of the Republican National Committee."

Tobin's attorneys come from Williams & Connolly (a high profile DC firm that represents many in both parties). And the latest RNC disclosure filings show half a million dollars paid to W&C for "legal services."

The money to W&C means little in itself. They probably do various stuff for the RNC.

But most telling, the RNC refused to answer the Union Leader's questions about whether they were paying for Tobin's defense.

Remember, Tobin is under indictment for tampering with a federal election. Two of his alleged co-conspirators have already pled guilty and received jail sentences. Why would the RNC be footing the bill for his defense? And if they're not, why won't they say so?

Thoughts? We've got a discussion thread going on this over at TPMCafe.

Youve probably seen reports

You've probably seen reports now of a new round of bombings and evacuations in the London transportion system.

Before saying more, thankfully, these appear to be far less deadly, at a minimum, than those of two weeks ago.

But I'm not sure I remember seeing coverage of breaking news that was odder or more obscure. London authorities appear to be referring to these as 'incidents' and the bombs themselves are being referred to as 'minor' or 'small', almost as if they weren't large enough to do any serious damage.

The Post now has a piece in which they are calling them "attempted explosions" or 'small bombs'. They note BBC radio reporting that "detonators had exploded but not large-scale explosives."

The noose tightens.Our topic

The noose tightens.

Our topic again <$NoAd$> is that classified State Department memo, the one that contained a brief mention of Valerie Plame's relationship to Joe Wilson and which may have been the conduit through which White House officials learned about the connection.

A couple days ago the Journal published an article that revealed that the memo made clear that the information contained in it was sensitive and should not be divulged.

In tomorrow's Post, Walter Pincus provides the specifics.

A classified State Department memorandum central to a federal leak investigation contained information about CIA officer Valerie Plame in a paragraph marked "(S)" for secret, 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.

...

The paragraph identifying her as the wife of former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV was clearly marked to show that it contained classified material at the "secret" level, two sources said. The CIA classifies as "secret" the names of officers whose identities are covert, according to former senior agency officials.

Anyone reading that paragraph should have been aware that it contained secret information, though that designation was not specifically attached to Plame's name and did not describe her status as covert, the sources said.


What does that mean? First of all, I think this is pretty much what we'd expect in such a memo that contained that sort of information. What this does is knock out one more basis for a defense based on ignorance. Whoever saw this memo knew that the information was not to be revealed.

I found this entry

I found this entry in the Reader Blogs section at TPMCafe. It suggests that Condi Rice might have been in the mix on the tar Joe Wilson with info about his wife plan too. What the reader comes up with is at best suggestive -- working from briefing transcripts. And it certainly doesn't prove anything. But I think he may be on to something. Take a look and let us know what you think.

When I first started

When I first started thinking about and planning TPMCafe, one of the things I wanted to do was to be able to set up limited duration blogs to cover particular events -- sort of like we did with our Bankruptcy Bill blog. Now, in time for all the fun, we've just launched our Supreme Court Watch blog. The posts will also be cross-posted to the site's front page since this will be a regular topic of conversation with our regulars over the coming weeks. So you'll be able to read it there too.

We'll be adding a few more names to the list over the coming days. But we launched overnight with Professors Jack Balkin and Robert Gordon of Yale and Professor Peter Rubin of Georgetown. Rubin is also a founder of the American Constitution Society, whose staff we've worked with in assembling our group. Take a moment to check out their site and their organization blog. ACS, as we discussed a couple months ago, has set out to become a progressive counterweight to the highly influential Federalist Society on the right.

Robert Gordon put up his first post yesterday evening, giving an overview of the Roberts nomination here. We're also going to be adding a Supreme Court selection discussion table later this afternoon.

Today a group of

Today a group of 11 former intelligence officers delivered a letter to the Republican and Democratic leadership in the House and the Senate on the Plame case. See it here.

If Murray Waass sources

If Murray Waas's sources are right, Karl Rove is in a ton of trouble, even if he did nothing more than we know already. According to his sources, Rove didn't 'fess up about the conversation with Matt Cooper when he was first interviewed by the FBI in 2003.

Yes yes yes I

Yes, yes, yes, I know. In a couple hours we'll know who the president's Supreme Court nominee is. Dobson will come charging down from his hillock. SpongeBob will run for the hills. And all hell will likely break loose.

But don't miss the piece in today's Wall Street Journal (available to non-subscribers) which adds a bit of new information. That classified State Dept. memo, which was probably the ultimate source of the Plame leak, "made clear that information identifying an agent and her role in her husband's intelligence-gathering mission was sensitive and shouldn't be shared."

We don't know enough details yet to know precisely how that piece fits into the puzzle. But it likely makes a defense based on ignorance much more difficult for someone.

As I just wrote

As I just wrote over at TPMCafe, the one thing I've read about Edith Clement on abortion rights is a reference to her writing that Roe is settled law. If that's even close to an accurate representation of her views, that would mean war between the White House and the religious right. Something here doesn't fit. We're discussing in this thread at TPMCafe.

Late Update: Late idle speculation seems now to point away from Clement and toward Judge Edith Jones. No matter how baseless the speculation, you know where to go to discuss it!

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