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The leaks to Anne

The leaks to Anne Kornblut continue. Abramoff nears a deal to testify against "at least a dozen lawmakers and their former staff members."

If the number of

If the number of articles getting punched up is any measure, the folks close to the Abramoff case are talking, and Jack himself is about to deal. The immediate trigger is the SunCruz case down in Florida, which is set to get started on January 9th. But that is only the first of a nest of overlapping criminal investigations in which Abramoff figures as a or the central player.

All of this raises the question of just what cards Abramoff has left to play.

From one perspective, he's handled this whole saga pretty poorly, in the sense of how long he's let this thing drag out. A number of the other key players have already pled out -- most notably, Scanlon and Kidan. And more than a year of news coverage has made Abramoff enough of a household name that it's not like a prosecutor would really cut him much of a break for giving up other bit players. It's hard to see how Abramoff avoids spending a lot of time in prison without giving up actual politicians, not staffers or other lobbyists, but people who run for office. That is, after all, what this is all about.

Any of our DA or US Atty readers care to chime in?

People have been asking

People have been asking what it's like at the center of the 2005 New York City transit strike. But actually, for me, it's something like being in a bubble. With the new people we're hiring we're about to open our first TPM offices. But for the moment, I work mainly at home, which is downtown, actually in the teens.

When I was out in the neighborhood yesterday -- i.e., not during rush-hour -- there was nothing to see that would make you think things were anything but normal, other than the little 'closed' signs hanging from the subway entrances. If anything the streets seemed more empty than usual. As I said, though, in a bubble, or rather, in the center of the storm.

The craziness is getting in and out of the city or between the different boroughs or rather anywhere that's more than ten or twenty blocks and thus not an easy walk in sub-freezing temperatures (26 degrees right now). My wife, whose commute is only about thirty or forty blocks, asked me to wish her luck when she left this morning.

It was a surreal feeling since I knew I was in the center of a city whose civic metabolism had been turned upside down. Just not for me; I was lucky.

NYT Jack Abramoff the

NYT: "Jack Abramoff, the Republican lobbyist under criminal investigation, has been discussing with prosecutors a deal that would grant him a reduced sentence in exchange for testimony against former political and business associates, people with detailed knowledge of the case say."

Heres a really good

Here's a really good post by Kevin Drum that I highly recommend. Kevin points to a key issue at the heart of the NSA debate that few are engaging. In genuine 'wartime' presidents have immense powers. But the president is operating on a theory of war that makes our 'wartime' status more or less permanent. Just how 'wartime' are we?

I hear that Sens.

I hear that Sens. Rockefeller and Roberts are now in an escalating press release over the NSA intercept story.

Roberts says that contrary to what Rockefeller says in his letter released yesterday, there were many things he could have done if he didn't think the NSA program was appropriate or legal. But he didn't do any of them. Roberts even says that Rockefeller expressed support for the program in subsequent classified briefings.

As readers of this site know, Roberts has a pretty good history of fibbing when the White House requires it. But we also have no brief for Sen. Rockefeller. For years he was far too passive on the Iraq WMD front, though he's been getting action of late on the Niger business -- about which we'll say more later.

So let me toss out of a few questions. Exactly who else got the briefing that Rockefeller did? I assume it was limited to the leaders of each body and the chair and ranking members of the intel committees. How much ability did Rockefeller have to get the rest of the senate intel committee to take the matter up? Who else was he legally permitted to communicate with about this?

Let's get the specifics on the table. Let the chips fall where they may. Whatever you think of this program, oversight is essential in such a case. Let's get the details.

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