TPM News

Hm.

NBC News has learned that U.S. and British authorities had a significant disagreement over when to move in on the suspects in the alleged plot to bring down trans-Atlantic airliners bound for the United States.

A senior British official knowledgeable about the case said British police were planning to continue to run surveillance for at least another week to try to obtain more evidence, while American officials pressured them to arrest the suspects sooner. The official spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the case.

In contrast to previous reports, the official suggested an attack was not imminent, saying the suspects had not yet purchased any airline tickets. In fact, some did not even have passports.

Earlier today, former Interior Official Roger Stillwell pled guilty to accepting gifts from Jack Abramoff and then lying about them to avoid scrutiny. It was unclear, however, whether this was explicitly a cooperation agreement. It is. The plea agreement, just released, reads:

The defendant agrees that he will cooperate fully, completely, and truthfully with all investigators and attorneys of the United States, by truthfully providing all information in his possession relating directly or indirectly to all criminal activity and related matters which concern the subject matter of this investigation and of which he has knowledge, or relating to other matters deemed relevant to the United States. This includes, but is not limited to, participating in a full debriefing by attorneys and investigators within the U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Public Integrity Section and Fraud Section, the U.S. Department of the Interior Office of the Inspector General, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation prior to sentencing.


How deep and how high into the Department of Interior will the investigation will go? As we've noted before, the former number two at Interior, Steven Griles, already has much to worry about.

Yesterday, several people -- including TPM's own Greg Sargent -- noticed a subtle detail on the front page of the RNC's website, GOP.com: Among five pictured "Defeat-ocrats," Howard Dean seemed to sport a moustache in the style of Adolf Hitler.

Later in the afternoon, the picture appeared normal. The difference is slight, but noticeable; versions of both are posted below.

The "moustache" was first noticed by a blogger after Atrios posted the picture to his Web site. Here it is:



If you look closely, you can see a little shading under Dean's nose. Markos Moulitsas of DailyKos also posted a copy of the picture yesterday afternoon, noting the shading. By later that afternoon, the image on the RNC's Web site had changed to this:



Dean's lip appears noticeably lighter. I asked TPM's graphic designer Matt Ipcar if this could have happened inadvertently. It was "definitely manipulated," he said, adding that it looked like someone used "the burn tool in Photoshop to selectively darken under his nose." But that wasn't all. "It looks like they added more gray hair behind the black shadow to accentuate what already looked a little Hitleresque."

I called the Republican National Committee's eCampaign section this morning -- they oversee the website -- and asked about the Hitler moustache. I was immediately passed to the RNC's communications office. There, a woman then tried to pass me back to the eCampaign office. I explained the issue, and she said she'd call me back. I still haven't received a call.

Update: We have a call into the DNC asking if they have any comment on this.

Man! Y'all are getting a triple venti extra-hot non-fat serving of Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL) news today. Hope you got your pink sugar ready!

Over at Election Central, Michael Powell catches even more news today of minion mistreatment by the Recount Queen.

Watch out, it's strong stuff. Here's just a taste:

Once, she threw her cell phone at a wall. Another time she slammed a computer keyboard into a desk... To younger staffers, she would say "What are you, stupid?" or "That's the stupidest thing I ever heard" while complaining the campaign did not have enough Ivy League-educated employees. To older staffers, she would say, "You ruined my life."

Here's something curious, first pointed out by the blog run by the campaign for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Ned Lamont: Despite claims from Sen. Joe Lieberman's (D-CT) re-election campaign that on Monday a hacker brought down their Web site and email service, they managed to send out on Tuesday morning a mass e-mail invitation for a Lieberman "victory" party later that day.

Until just recently, Lieberman's Web site carried a statement posted Tuesday quoting since-fired campaign manager Sean Smith saying, "For the past 24 hours the Friends for Joe Lieberman's website and e-mail has been totally disrupted and disabled [and] we believe that this is the result of a coordinated attack by our political opponents." The downed e-mail was confirmed by the campaign's internet consultant.

A sheepish note: we received a copy of the email Lamont's blog cites, but didn't bother to check it until we saw that post. But what do you know, plain as day -- the email was sent from the "joe2006.com" domain, which was purportedly down; it's dated Tuesday morning, when the service was supposedly unavailable; and it was sent by Sean "our e-mail is totally disrupted" Smith. Take a look:



You can see a PDF of the full email here.

And now that I go back and read it, a Tuesday story from CNN.com contains an odd note:

"This type of dirty politics has been a staple of the Lamont campaign from the beginning, from the nonstop personal attacks to the intimidation tactics and offensive displays to these coordinated efforts to disable our Web site," said [campaign manager Sean] Smith in a statement e-mailed to reporters Monday evening.


A curious turn of events. Was the service not down, but merely sporadic? Was it up for several hours on Monday evening and Tuesday morning, but down before and after?

Unfortunately, as I noted below, neither the Lieberman campaign nor their technologists are returning my calls. As soon as I hear from someone, I'll post their comments. It would be helpful to hear their side of this story.

Update: After receiving emails from several readers, we took a look at the detailed header information included in the email. It seems to show the email coming from "bluehornet.com," a marketing email service. Perhaps the email was sent through them? Full header info after the jump.

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It's official, the Jack Abramoff scandal has spread to the Interior Department.

From the AP:

Roger Stillwell told a federal magistrate that he had been given hundreds of dollars worth of football and concert tickets from Abramoff, who at the time was lobbying for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Stillwell was with the Interior Department's insular affairs office, which handles issues involving the island government.

Documents filed as part of Stillwell's plea do not indicate whether he is providing authorities with evidence against others who might be involved in the case.

Stillwell received four tickets to a Washington Redskins game in December 2003 valued at $316 with an actual cost of $2,147, prosecutors said. He also accepted two tickets to a 2003 Simon and Garfunkel concert worth $166, prosecutors said.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Alan Kay set sentencing for Oct. 26. Stillwell faces up to a year in prison.

Sen. Joe Lieberman's (D-CT) re-election campaign Web site is still down. Although, to their credit, readers are no longer given an out-of-date and inaccurate statement from now-departed campaign manager Sean Smith.

Has anyone figured out what happened to the site? Days later, why is it still down? They don't want to tell me: His campaign has yet to return several phone calls I've made over the past two days. His internet consultants and host company, who once spoke at length about the situation, are similarly silent.

That's right: Driving Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL) around for her Florida campaign is a man thrice accused and twice convicted of embezzlement, the Miami Herald reports.

Bruce Carlton Jordan, now 42, was first accused of stealing from his employer in 1998, but paid back the $5,000 his coworkers said he'd taken.

In 2003, Jordan -- who's said to be a longtime friend of Harris', as well as of Florida GOP gubernatorial candidate Charlie Christ -- made over $6,500 worth of unauthorized purchases on a credit card belonging to the Florida Funeral Directors' Association, of which he was executive director. He also wrote himself nearly $3,500 in checks from the group's PAC.

In 2005, while on probation for those lapses in judgement, Jordan bamboozled over $3,000 out of his new employer, Florida Workers' Advocates, by abusing his boss' credit card, falsifying expense statements, and writing fake checks drawing on the organization's accounts.

Jordan now works as a volunteer on Harris' campaign, as her driver and "personal assistant," the paper reports. They did not confirm if he had access to the campaign's funds.

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports -- with bonus revenge quote from former Harris staffer:

Katherine Harris won't have to worry about her opponents in the U.S. Senate race taking more shots at her during a candidates' "showdown" in Jacksonville today.

They weren't invited.

Although the Florida League of Cities promoted its forum today as one of the first to bring all of the gubernatorial and Senate candidates together, the nonpartisan group didn't invite any of the three Republicans challenging Harris on the Sept. 5 ballot. They did, however, invite Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, who is unopposed in the Democratic primary. . . . Nelson has already said he won't be able to attend.

"It's a one-person debate," said Chris Ingram, a former Harris spokesman, who is now the spokesman for LeRoy Collins, one of Harris' three Republican challengers. "I hope she doesn't lose."

Kline Campaign May Not Understand The Meaning of "Spy" "U.S. Rep. John Kline [R-MN] said that a "double-agent" from the campaign of Democratic challenger Coleen Rowley tried to make an illegal campaign contribution and infiltrate his re-election campaign. Rowley's campaign denied the allegations...[Intern David] Bailey gave his real e-mail address and his real address, which was subsequently used to learn his connection to the Rowley campaign, Kline spokesman Marcus Esmay said. Rowley's campaign manager, Rogers, said, "It doesn't sound like a very secretive operation when you leave your e-mail and address." (AP)

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