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"[Former secretary of state Richard] Armitage's central role as the primary source on [former undercover CIA officer Valerie] Plame is detailed for the first time in "Hubris," which recounts the leak case and the inside battles at the CIA and White House in the run-up to the war," Newsweek says this week, teasing an upcoming book co-authored by one of its star investigators, Michael Isikoff.

The book confirms that Armitage was one of the initial sources of the Plame leak, for both conservative columnist Robert Novak and the Washington Post's Bob Woodward. Last week, AP reported that Armitage met with Woodward in June, on the same day Woodward had said he spoke with a source about Plame's identity.

"The disclosures about Armitage, gleaned from interviews with colleagues, friends and lawyers directly involved in the case, underscore one of the ironies of the Plame investigation," Newsweek says:

that the initial leak, seized on by administration critics as evidence of how far the White House was willing to go to smear an opponent, came from a man who had no apparent intention of harming anyone.

Update: "Hubris" co-author David Corn has more.

Oh, Katie.

Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL) has set fire to her own ambitions yet again, this time declaring to reporters, "if you're not electing Christians, then in essence you are going to legislate sin."

It's increasingly clear to observers that the Harris for Senate campaign has become, in essence, a Civil War re-enactment of Sherman's march through Atlanta, with Harris playing Sherman and her campaign playing Atlanta. Even the tone of media coverage of her antics seems to have shifted, to be no more or less than a somber and respectfully brief, unflourished recounting of the mayhem that she has caused.

That's probably because she's down roughly 30 points in recent polls, so her self-immolating displays hardly matter. Hence reporters are more likely to give only a spare report of the facts, insert an obligatory Democratic "outrage" quote, make a sympathetic call to Harris' spokeswoman for whatever clean-up statement she's allowed to give, and call it a day.

What's more, it turns out Harris may not even have the money to fund her own self-destruction. The $10 million of her own money she promised to pour into her campaign -- which was necessary, because she couldn't raise outside funds to keep going -- doesn't exist, according to a new report.

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From the AP:

The pharmaceutical industry quietly footed the bill for at least part of a recent multimillion-dollar [$10 million] ad campaign praising lawmakers [almost all Republicans] who support the new Medicare prescription drug benefit, according to political officials.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce claims credit for the ads, although a spokesman refused repeatedly to say whether it had received any funds from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America....

The officials who described PhRMA's involvement said they did not know whether the industry had given the Chamber money to cover the entire cost of the ads and other elements of an election-year voter mobilization effort, or merely a portion.

Montana officials have accused a recently-departed fundraising chief for Sen. Conrad Burns' (R-MT) re-election campaign with securities fraud, according to a press release.

State Auditor John Morrison says Pat Davison defrauded two families of $1.2 million. Morrison said Davison convinced them to withdraw the money from investment accounts so he could put them in "fake" investments, including a bond issue from a local school trust.

Officials from the school "confirmed that no such trust exists and they do not issue bonds," the release states. Morrison has referred the matter to the state attorney general for possible prosecution.

Burns named Davison his state finance director in January. According to Burns spokesman Jason Klindt, Davison left the campaign last month. "Pat Davison resigned on July 27th. He is not Burns’ finance chief," he said in a message. However, a search of the campaign's Web site turns up no press release announcing the departure, and a search of the Nexis database results in no articles mentioning the split.

Klindt added that the finance director spot was a "voluntary position."

Davison also convinced people to invest in several of his companies, none of which had been registered to offer or sell securities in the state, according to Morrison.

Calls to the Montana Attorney General's office were referred to FBI's Office in Salt Lake City, Utah. A bureau spokesperson said she could not confirm or deny "any sort of activity."

Reached by phone this afternoon, the Burns campaign appeared to be unaware of the charges. A receptionist there said all spokespeople were at lunch and unavailable. Telephone messages left at Davison's house and business went unreturned.

Full press release after the jump.

Update: This post originally referred to Davison as Burns' current state finance director.

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Montana officials have accused the former state finance director for Sen. Conrad Burns' (R-MT) re-election campaign, Pat Davison, of securities fraud, TPMmuckraker has learned.

Developing. . .

Update: This post originally referred to Davison as Burns' current state finance director.

From ABC:

State Farm Insurance supervisors systematically demanded that Hurricane Katrina damage reports be buried or replaced or changed so that the company would not have to pay policyholders' claims in Mississippi, two State Farm insiders tell ABC News.

Kerri and Cori Rigsby, independent adjusters who had worked for State Farm exclusively for eight years, say they have turned over thousands of internal company documents and their own detailed statement to the FBI and Mississippi state investigators....

At one point, they say State Farm brought in a special shredding truck they believe was used to destroy key documents. State Farm says shredding is standard to protect policyholders' privacy.

The sisters say they saw supervisors go to great lengths to pressure outside engineers to prepare reports concluding that damage was caused by water, not covered under State Farm policies, rather than by wind.

That Janet Jackson-Osama bin Laden sex scene may be closer to reality than we think -- so says Door of Kush Books, publisher of a new memoir by Kola Boof, the woman who claims to have slept with (and kept by) the al Qaeda leader for several months in 1996.

"If a film gets made about Kola Boof, it will likely be at FOX SEARCHLIGHT," senior editor Nafisa Goma emailed me yesterday. "At this time, that is all that I am allowed to reveal, as it's far too early to publicly discuss the project." I'm thinking, "Pretty Woman" meets "Midnight Express," with a heart?

I called Fox Searchlight to ask if they were really considering a project that would involve Rhythm Nationalist Janet Jackson dancing for and having sex with Osama bin Laden. It's almost pointless to note that they did not respond to my voice mail message.

Also: earlier I reported that Kola Boof objected to being portrayed by Janet Jackson. In fact, Goma wrote me, "Please note that Kola Boof loves Janet Jackson and is a lifelong fan of Janet Jackson, but Boof doesn't want a film made about her life."

And what of her detractors? I checked in with bin Laden expert Peter Bergen, who has called Boof's book "the worst book of the year" and said it was "rife with howlers." Goma had promised to "discredit and humiliate" the CNN reporter and analyst with evidence supporting the tales whose veracity he had challenged.

"Boof is a pathological liar and a fraud," Bergen told me with more than a note of irritation in his voice. "The book is a tissue of lies from beginning to end."

A final note: in an email to (who has also been following this breaking story), Goma clarified that Kola Boof -- that's "Ms. Boof" if you are, like bin Laden, alleged to be nasty -- was not a "sex slave," despite being abused and forced to dance naked. She was his "mistress."

From the AP:

Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said he never thought the courts would prevent the Republican Party from replacing him on the November ballot, a Houston television station reported Thursday.

"I'm very disappointed in our justice system. There doesn't seem to be justice," DeLay told KTRK-TV....

DeLay said he doesn't have second thoughts about his decision to resign from Congress and give GOP leaders a chance to replace him on the ballot.

"Knowing what I know now, I don't think I would have done it any differently because I read Texas law, I knew what Texas law was," he told the television station.

Does this sound like a man who needs a legal team drawn from nine different firms? Won't all those lawyers just get in the way of his righteous knowledge?

Yesterday, in the rush of events, we linked to an AP piece reporting that charges against Gov. Ernie Fletcher had been "dismissed."

What was missing there was that the charges were dismissed because Fletcher pled guilty. As part of a deal struck with the state's attorney general, Fletcher admitted wrongdoing (although not "criminal wrongdoing"), several of his appointees will be forced to resign, and all charges were dropped.

The New York Times has a good rundown of the agreement.