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

Hail to the Leaker-in-Chief

To cap off a long weekend of leak stories, the NY Times goes front page Monday with confirmation of President Bush's role, and news that he authorized the declassification of the National Intelligence Estimate in order to rebut critics, but "did not designate Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby Jr., or anyone else, to release the information to reporters." So it was to be a secret declassification? Or is this the "get-it-done-but-don't-tell-me-how" defense? (NYT)

The AP has a similar, but more explicit, version: A "lawyer knowledgeable about the case said Bush instructed Cheney to 'get it out' and left the details about disseminating the intelligence to him." (AP)

Earlier this weekend, we also learned from the Times that Libby was lying to reporters when he said that it had been a "key judgment" in the NIE that Iraq had sought uranium from Niger. (NYT)

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Will the White House pardon Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the Leaking Lackey, in an attempt to cover up its own messes? Longtime GOP courtier Joe DiGenova tells the LA Times yes:

The special prosecutor [Patrick Fitzgerald] signaled in his court filing last week that he intended to call several former Bush aides as witnesses against Libby, including former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer -- raising the specter of court proceedings that could lay bare the inner workings of the White House.

"I can't imagine this case going to trial," DiGenova said. "You'll see a pardon first."

The White House has refused to say whether Bush might pardon Libby, citing its policy of not commenting on the case.

Why did Homeland Security investigators approve former spokesman Brian Doyle's Top Secret clearance, despite his prior trouble with pornography? Because they didn't interview the confessed pedophile's former employers, according to a new report:

. . . sources [at TIME magazine, Doyle's former employer] tell Newsweek two of Doyle's former supervisors weren't contacted by government investigators, who conducted a 'full field' background check on Doyle two years ago in connection with the 'top secret' security clearance he needed for Homeland headquarters.


Two points to Newsweek for getting Doyle's mug shot on their own.

In what is mostly a rehash of the role of wives and other family members in the Jack Abramoff investigation, Sunday's piece in the New York Times has a couple of new nuggets.

The central role of wives in the investigation has been clear for quite awhile (see our earlier post on the Abramoff wives theme.). Tom DeLay's former aide Tony Rudy has already pled gulty to accepting bribes through his wife for work he did in DeLay's office for Abramoff. Investigators are also reportedly looking at DeLay himself and Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA), both of whose wives worked for Ed Buckham. Buckham, DeLay's former chief of staff, ran the lobbying firm Alexander Strategy Group and worked very closely with Abramoff.

Investigators apparently call this group the "The Wives Club." They subpoenaed Doolittle's wife's company back in 2004, and today we learn that "prosecutors have asked [Christine DeLay] about the circumstances of her hiring by Mr. Buckham and whether it was an effort to influence Mr. DeLay."

But now for the real bombshell.

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Earlier this week, Justin wrote about the national security concerns raised by the recent arrest of Brian Doyle, deputy press secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, on charges of trying to seduce a child.

The guy had a national security clearance. In order to get that, candidates are supposed to undergo an incredibly extensive background check. Why? Because among other things, investigators want to make sure that they don't have secrets that would make them vulnerable to blackmail.

Apparently they didn't dig too deep. From CNN:

Friends and former co-workers say Doyle was disciplined by Time magazine [where Doyle worked before leaving for DHS] after he allegedly used company computers to view adult pornography in the publication's Washington bureau office....

Doyle received a formal warning and was required to undergo mental health counseling before returning to work, the sources said.


Apparently this revelation is what prompted Rep. Peter King (R-NY) to schedule a hearing to scrutinize DHS's hiring practices.

Former Cheney chief of staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby's newly-disclosed recollections of the intense atmosphere surrounding the Bush-approved leaks of secrets from the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate were clear, precise, lucid.

Now, scholars wonder if that doesn't undermine his perjury defense -- that any misstatements he made under oath were because the Wilson-Plame affair was so trivial, he and others didn't pay much attention to it. From this morning's LA Times:

Lawyers for the former White House aide, who is charged with lying to the FBI and a grand jury about whether he leaked the identity of a CIA operative to reporters, have argued that any misstatements he made to investigators were inadvertent and resulted from his immersion in more important matters than the agent's identity.

But court papers filed late Wednesday by Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald showed that the administration considered the matter anything but unimportant.

The Justice Department is conducting an inquiry into the financial disclosures of Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV), the Wall Street Journal reports today. The National Legal and Policy Center, a right-wing Virginia political watchdog group, brought the matter to investigators' attention, flagging "at least 200 misrepresentations or omissions in Mr. Mollohan's disclosure forms over the years," according to the newspaper.

When TPMmuckraker called the U.S. Attorney's office in Washington, their spokeswoman confirmed to us that there is an investigation, but refused to comment further on the nature or extent of it.

Late Update: DC-based government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington calls for Mollohan to step down from the Ethics committee.

Building on Kevin Drum's timeline of the administration's decision to declassify portions of the National Intelligence Estimate, here's a more complete rendering for those of you trying to get a hold on this. It's a mini-history of the administration's political manipulations of this classified document.

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Here's a story that bears revisiting -- with some urgency. Back in January, the AP reported that Halliburton was providing U.S. troops serving in Ramadi, Iraq, with dirty water. The soldiers bathed in it, washed their clothes in it, even made coffee with it. They got sick as a result.

On Jan. 23, Senate Democrats held a hearing on the matter. The story was picked up by hundreds of news outlets. Outrage ensued. The water quality at the Ramadi base improved.

But it's happened again -- this time at the Qayyarah Airfield, about 300 kilometers north of Baghdad. As an Army physician at the base wrote in a March 31 email to Senate investigators:

In January I noticed the water in our Showering facility was cloudy and had a foul odor. At the same time (over a 2 week period) I had a sudden increase in soldiers with bacterial infections presenting to me for treatment. All of these soldiers live in the same living area (PAD 103) and use the same water to shower. I had 4 cases of skin abcesses, 1 case of cellulitis, and one case of bacterial conjunctivitis.

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Tom DeLay, a.k.a. "Representative #2," bowed out Monday... So why is Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), a.k.a. "Representative #1," still around?

Let's count the nails in his coffin.

He's been very clearly and damningly implicated in three separate guilty pleas (Michael Scanlon, Jack Abramoff, and Tony Rudy). Prosecutors have told him they're preparing a case against him. His former aide, Neil Volz, is also in prosecutors' sights, and it seems it's just a matter of time before he flips on his old boss. Polls in Ohio show him running behind the Democratic candidates. And he was brusquely forced from his chairmanship of the House Administration Committee when Republicans realized his end was near.

So why hasn't he realized that?

There seem to be two answers. Well, three, if you believe that he believes that he's innocent. But really two.

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