FBI Interviews Another Harris Aide
"Federal investigators interviewed U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris' former campaign manager as part of an ongoing federal inquiry into her relationship with a convicted defense contractor.
"Jim Dornan, who left Harris' Senate campaign in November, spoke to investigators from the FBI and the Defense Department in Washington for about 90 minutes Thursday.
"The Justice and Defense departments are examining Harris' dealings with Mitchell Wade, who made illegal campaign contributions to Harris and later asked her to help secure $10-million in federal money for a company project." (St. Petersburg Times)
Relying on Write-Ins May Cost GOP DeLay's Seat
"With no Republican candidate listed on the November ticket against Democrat Nick Lampson, GOP leaders scrambled to save the seat by naming a last-minute write-in candidate â Houston City Councilwoman Sekula-Gibbs, a suburban dermatologist.
"'The whole thing is crazy,' said Judith Blanchard, a lawyer at [a] women's breakfast meeting. . . . 'The Republican Party tried to do an end-run around the law and it backfired.' . . .
"Once the underdog, Lampson could now not only take the heavily Republican district, but help Democrats win the 15 seats needed to push the GOP out of power in the House.
"'Republicans have thrown one seat away out of sheer stupidity with the whole DeLay fiasco,' said Larry J. Sabato, a University of Virginia political scientist." (LATimes)
Washington's Once And Future Lobby
Jeffrey Birnbaum explains why the booming lobbying industry is here to stay. (WaPo)
At a Secret Interrogation, Dispute Flared Over Tactics
"President Bush pointedly cited the capture and interrogation of Mr. Zubaydah in his speech last Wednesday announcing the transfer of Mr. Zubaydah and 13 others to the American detention center in GuantÃ¡namo Bay, Cuba. And he used it to call for ratification of the tough techniques employed in the questioning.
"But rather than the smooth process depicted by Mr. Bush, interviews with nearly a dozen current and former law enforcement and intelligence officials briefed on the process show, the interrogation of Mr. Zubaydah was fraught with sharp disputes, debates about the legality and utility of harsh interrogation methods, and a rupture between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the C.I.A. that has yet to heal." (NYT)
Media Downplayed Torture Stories after 9/11
"...when the record on torture coverage is examined in detail, an ambiguous picture emerges: in the post-9/11 days, some reporters offered detailed accusations and reports of abuse and torture, only to be met with skepticism by their own editors. Stories were buried, played down, or ignored â a reluctance that is much diminished but still bubbles up with regard to the culpability of policymakers." (CJR)
Bloggers Help Obama Pass Senate Pork Bill
"[Sens.] Coburn of Oklahoma and Obama (D-Ill.) overcame the secret opposition of two powerful Senate veterans, Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), partly because Internet bloggers on the left and right tracked down and disclosed that first Stevens and then Byrd had stealthily put holds on the bill." (Chi Trib)
Prosecutors: GOP Coingate Felon Sought Perks from Bush Fundraising
"Tom Noe had pleaded guilty in May to arranging a contribution scheme to fulfill his promise to generate $50,000 for a Bush fundraiser in 2003. Noe hasn't explained why he arranged the scheme.
"The court papers indicate Noe wanted perks that can come with the 'Pioneers' fundraising group -- business leaders and lobbyists who raised at least $100,000 for Bush.
"Noe wanted 'in part to obtain presidential invitations to the White House and the President's ranch in Texas,' prosecutors said in a court filing asking that Noe be given a longer sentence than they originally sought." (AP)
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): Accused Terrorists Must See Evidence Against Them
"Sen. Lindsey Graham said Friday that he's confident the Senate will reject President Bush's plan to try accused terrorists without letting them see classified evidence against them." (McClatchy)
Looking for Agreement on Tribunals for Detainees between GOP Senators and White House
"The disputed issues are the same ones that the Supreme Court cited in striking down a system of tribunals that the administration established after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. They include whether suspects can be excluded from their trials and what types of evidence would be admissible." (NY Times)
Bill Would Ease CIA Interrogation Limits
"Through omissions and legal definitions, the proposal could authorize harsh techniques that critics contend potentially violate the Geneva Conventions, which govern the treatment of war prisoners. These methods include hypothermia, stress positions and "waterboarding," a practice of simulated drowning.
"The bill would keep in law prohibitions on war crimes such as rape and torture that are widely accepted as illegal."
In a Pivotal Year, GOP Plans to Get Personal
"Republicans are planning to spend the vast majority of their sizable financial war chest over the final 60 days of the campaign attacking Democratic House and Senate candidates over personal issues and local controversies, GOP officials said." (WaPo)
Secret Spending is under Scrutiny
"More than 50 bills are pending that would regulate use of federal money for pet projects." (Cox)
GOP Split on Earmark Reform
"Leaders face a potentially rocky path to final passage as members of the Appropriations Committee balked at the initial proposal laid out Sept. 7, arguing that the language did not make good on a promise made by Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) to Appropriations Chairman Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) in late April to apply reforms equally to appropriations, tax and authorizing legislation. That last-minute deal was negotiated to secure appropriatorsâ support for a procedural vote to bring the broader lobbying and ethics overhaul package to the floor....
The draft earmark reform proposal would also only apply to conference reports on authorizing bills, [a House aide] said, meaning earmarked goodies added in managersâ amendments â such as the Alaskan bridge to nowhere project â would not have to be identified." (Roll Call, sub. req.)
In Alaska, Corruption Scandal Has Pols Running Scared
"Eight days after it came into public view, an FBI investigation of Alaska state legislators and possibly corrupt ties to Veco Corp. is making lawmakers, candidates and political leaders scramble. . . .
"House Speaker John Harris, R-Valdez, said he telephoned the FBI asking if the agency could at least say who's not a suspect. No one called back.
"And Thursday Alaska Republican Party chairman Randy Ruedrich sent a short, unusual e-mail addressed to 'All Candidates.'
"'If the FBI should contact you and ask to interview you, it is very important that you first call our party counsel, Bill Large,' Ruedrich wrote. . . .
"'You'll notice that lots of folks were just talking to the FBI, talking to the cops," [Large] said. 'I watch "Law and Order.' So I'm thinking, well I don't know that's the best thing to do is or that's the right thing to do.' People can get themselves in trouble even if they're not guilty, he said." (Anchorage Daily News)
BP Was Warned of Intimidation
"Three times between early 2003 and late 2004, BP officials were warned that a "chilling atmosphere" made workers engaged in critical pipeline-corrosion work in the North Slope oil fields afraid to report environmental and safety concerns.
"One of those reports said the fear was justified: At least one worker was summoned for firing because his bosses thought he was responsible for a formal complaint that his inspection crew had been cut by 25 percent with no matching reduction in workload. The man denied any role in the complaint and kept his job, the report said." (ADN)
Ex-Congress Aide Accused in Spy Case Is Free on Bail
"Judge Mukasey said that for [Susan Lindauer] to succeed as an agent of the Iraqi government, she would have had to influence other people. But her mental condition makes that highly unlikely, he said.
"'The record shows that even lay people recognize that she is seriously disturbed,' Judge Mukasey said in a 35-page ruling issued on Wednesday. He said that a neighbor had suspected her of being mildly schizophrenic.
"Prosecutors said she met with Iraqi intelligence officers at places in Baghdad, including Al Rashid Hotel, in 2002, where she accepted $5,000 in cash.
"Ms. Lindauer told a television reporter after her arrest that she was innocent, and that she was an antiwar activist.
"Ms. Lindauer worked as a journalist in Washington and in the press offices of several liberal Democrats in the House and Senate, although her last such job was in 2002.
"At least a half dozen doctors for both the defense and the prosecution have found that Ms. Lindauer suffers from delusions of grandeur and paranoia, which makes her incompetent to stand trial, the judge said. But she refuses to accept the diagnosis or to take medication, he said." (NYT)