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

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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Well, the blog Cincinnati Beacon has picked up the Grandma in Iraq story where we left off. Last we heard, the upbeat "Grandma in Iraq" blog -- written by an Army Public Affairs Officer, but hosted by the Cincinnati Enquirer newspaper's online division -- had new biodata identifying its author, Suzanne M. Fournier, as an Army flack.

A man identifying himself as Gil Fournier, Suzanne's husband, has written in to the Beacon with the backstory of how his wife started writing for the Enquirer:

I was interviewed by the Cincinnati Enquire [sic] about how I felt about my wife going to Iraq, etc. During the course of this interview, I mentioned to the reporter that she was thinking of writing a blog. The reporter asked me if she would consider writing it through the Enquire's blog section. I told him to ask her. He called her, and he asked her if she would allow her blog to be carried by the Enquire.

She told him she would check with her higher ups and get back to him, and that he should do the same. Supposedly, he got all the permission he needed, and told my wife, and me, that he did. At that time, he knew without the slightest doubt, that she was a public affairs officer with the Corps of Engineers in Cincinnati. If you had read your own paper, or wish to do now, before responding, you would know without a doubt who she was and who she worked for.

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Bush's Leak

The Washington Post gives the rundown on yesterday's revelation that Pres. Bush authorized the leaking of certain information from the classified National Intelligence Estimate. On the central question of whether Bush can do such a thing, R. Jeffrey Smith writes:

Legal scholars and analysts said yesterday that the president has the authority to selectively declassify intelligence reports But they also said it was highly unusual for senior officials at the White House to take such an action so stealthily, without notifying Cabinet officials or others in the administration, including the CIA authors of the National Intelligence Estimate.


The Post has another piece confirming the administration's logic on the leak that's not a leak:

A senior administration official, speaking on background because White House policy prohibits comment on an active investigation, said Bush sees a distinction between leaks and what he is alleged to have done. The official said Bush authorized the release of the classified information to assure the public of his rationale for war as it was coming under increasing scrutiny.


Other coverage: NYT, KR, AP.

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