They've got muck; we've got rakes. TPM Muckraker

In an effort to better understand the man who gave former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham over $1.4 million in bribes, I've spent a good amount of time finding and talking to former employees of Mitchell Wade at his company, MZM Inc. They don't paint a flattering picture of the man.

Former employees rarely do, of course. But even accounting for the typical bad feelings harbored by disgruntled former employees, he is clearly not a nice man. None were willing to be named. Why?

"Vindictive," "petty," "calculating" and "paranoid" are words that come up again and again. "You were either on his team, or he wanted you destroyed," said one person. "Everything Mitch did, he did for a reason," said another. "And he's still doing it." He liked to open all the mail delivered to MZM, just to see what people were getting, one employee recalled.

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As an Army interrogator at Abu Ghraib in 2004, Torin Nelson helped investigators document instances of prisoner abuse and torture by his colleagues. Now a contract employee, he's being blacklisted from working in the military, according to Jason Vest in Government Executive:

Since last October, Nelson has been solicited or applied for dozens of overseas contract interrogation jobs. He has gotten none. Army Lt. Col. Maricela G. Alvarado, an intelligence staff officer, told Nelson in a recent e-mail that the Army knows that he was "not involved in any incident of wrongdoing" at Abu Ghraib.

Instead, it's blowing the whistle that appears to have made him persona non grata among military intelligence:
'[Our company] is apparently being asked to be able to "certify" that deploying you forward would not cause an adverse circumstance at some point in the future,' [an executive for his employer] wrote in a recent e-mail to Nelson. 'I don't know what that means . . . [but the] basic feeling is that any attention would be unwanted, and they do not wish to accept the risk.'

After Jack Anderson's death, the FBI wants what it never had during the legendary Washington Post reporter's career -- a chance to pore through his notes:

[Anderson's] syndicated column, Washington Merry-Go-Round, earned him the enmity of the corrupt and powerful -- so much so that during the Watergate years, associates of Nixon had discussed assassinating the columnist. They never went through with the plot. Anderson died last December at the age of 83.

His archive, some 200 boxes now being held by George Washington University's library, could be a trove of information about state secrets, dirty dealings, political maneuverings, and old-fashioned investigative journalism, open for historians and up-and-coming reporters to see.

The FBI says it wants to review them in order to remove any classified material. Jack Anderson "would probably come out of his skin at the thought of the FBI going through his papers," his son tells the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Anderson broke many Washington scandals in his time, but he also gave us Murray Waas and a generation of other investigative reporters, who interned for him in their youth -- that's a legacy to be proud of.

Doesn't the FBI have better things to do?

Maybe We Will Have DeLay to Kick Around Anymore

Former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) raised nearly half a million dollars in the six weeks before he dropped out of his election, the Houston Chronicle reports this morning. All that cash can go towards his legal fund. And once he beats his rap, K Street beckons, the Washington Post says. Proving they can still write satire better than anybody, the paper reports:

I called top lobbyists and asked a simple question, "Could Tom DeLay become a lobbyist now that he's leaving government?"

The answer was a resounding "Yes." DeLay may have found himself on the wrong end of several ethics committee reports, they said. He may have been too radioactive a few years ago to run for speaker of the House. He may even have been too tainted by his ties to convicted felons to be reelected to Congress this year.

But he could still make a bundle on K Street, they concurred. Leaders of law and lobbying firms made it clear that they would happily hire him, especially if federal prosecutors don't indict him as part of the Abramoff affair.

(Houston Chronicle, Washington Post)

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Yes, he did:

Three weeks after Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty to three federal felony crimes, Rep. John Doolittle turned for legal advice concerning his own association with Abramoff to a former associate of special prosecutor Ken Starr whose legal specialties now include white-collar crime and public corruption. . . .

A Doolittle aide, Richard Robinson, said the attorney handling Doolittle's inquiry is David G. Barger. Barger is the former president of the Virginia Bar Association's criminal law section and a former assistant U.S. attorney, who later was an associate of Starr's in the Whitewater investigation. . . .

Robinson said that the campaign hired Barger to address the congressman's concerns about how he should respond to questions from the press as he contemplated having to talk about the scandal as part of his campaign for re-election.

Did Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA) lawyer up as a result of the spreading Abramoff scandal?

Just three weeks after fallen superlobbyist Jack Abramoff agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, Doolittle's 2006 campaign committee cut a $10,000 payment for "legal fees" to the firm of Williams Mullen, government records show.

There were no other payments to the firm in the months before or after that check was cut, according to reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission.

We can't determine conclusively what the check was for -- neither the campaign nor the firm will return phone calls. But we can rule out some possibilities. It doesn't seem to be for Doolittle's traditional campaign law counsel; for that, the campaign appears to pay the firm Wiley Rein & Fielding roughly $1,000 a month.

Nor is it for providing a treasurer for his campaign; records show that role is filled by David Bauer, who is not listed among Williams Mullen's attorneys.

Since Abramoff became the target of government and media investigations, Doolittle's name has repeatedly surfaced as one of the lawmakers likely to face legal problems as a result of their dealings with Abramoff. He took over $140,000 from Jack, his associates and his clients; he held fundraisers in Jack's skybox and restaurant, but sometimes failed to report them; he took repeated actions on behalf of Abramoff's clients; and his wife took money from two Abramoff-connected operations.

Here's some interesting midday reading: Over at Harpers Magazine's new blog, Washington editor Ken Silverstein sharpens the focus on a fuzzy period of Jack Abramoff's biography, his time working with South Africa's apartheid regime. Everything Jack knew about dirty tricks -- "cut-outs, bogus charities, financial trickery, and double- and triple-budgeted projects" -- he learned from apartheid-era spooks, Silverstein says. Check it out.

Pegged on Jay Rosen's anointment of Murray Waas as "the Bob Woodward of Now," the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz does a thumbnail profile of the National Journal reporter who has dug deeper into the current administration, and its use and misuse of classified information, than just about anyone else. To Waas, a Muckraker salute.

Former GOP Gov. George Ryan of Illinois found guilty of racketeering. . .

The newly-enterprising New York Sun got its hands on a key State Department memo from 2003 that identifies Valerie (Plame) Wilson as the wife of Joe Wilson. It's an informative new piece of the Plame puzzle -- only the Sun uses it to prove pretty much the exact opposite of what it shows. At least that's what an high-ranking intel source familiar with the memo tells us.

Here are the basic details.

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