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Bloomberg is reporting that Bradley Schlozman may revise some of the testimony he gave to a Senate Judiciary Committee panel this week.

Schlozman testified that he brought voter-fraud charges in Missouri on the eve of the 2006 midterm election under the direction of the Justice Department's Office of Public Integrity:

The explanation, which Schlozman repeated at least nine times during the June 5 hearing, infuriated public integrity lawyers, who say it implied the section ordered him to prosecute, said two Justice Department officials. Public integrity attorneys handle sensitive cases involving politicians and judges and pride themselves on staying out of political disputes.

A clarification of Schlozman's testimony would stress that he consulted with the section and was given guidance, not direction, said the officials, who asked to remain anonymous because the matter is being deliberated internally. The clarification wouldn't say that Schlozman's Senate testimony was inaccurate, the officials added.


Schlozman's testimony angered Democratic senators during questioning. He eventually said named Craig Donsanto, the head of the election crimes branch at the agency as the official who gave him permission, despite Justice Department policy not to bring voter fraud cases right before an election. Donsanto literally wrote the manual outlining the policy, which has some people questioning Schlozman's account.

First Admiral William J. Fallon took over as head of U.S. Central Command, even though it's the Army and Marines that are most engaged in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now Admiral Mike Mullen, the chief of naval operations, has been nominated to become the next head of the joint chiefs of staff. If approved, that means a Naval officer will helm the joint chiefs, Central Command, Southern Command, Pacific Command (an understandably typical position for an admiral) and Special Operations Command. What's up with the Navy's commanding position?

One factor is obvious, says Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute: The Navy "has not been tarred by the failure in Iraq." In other words, it's precisely because the Navy doesn't have the degree of skin in the game that the ground services have that admirals are making for attractive nominees for vacancies at key commands. That certainly tracks with Defense Secretary Gates's worry that General Peter Pace's prospective renomination hearing would have become a rancorous reexamination of the Iraq war. And it's doubly surprising, given how the Navy was the service most comfortable with ex-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the man most closely associated with Iraq other than President Bush. "The irony is that the Navy culture was always able to get along with Rumsfeld, but otherwise rolled rather quickly with the Rumsfeld reversal" underway thanks to Defense Secretary Gates. No one can say the Navy is anything but buoyant. "The Navy has an intellectual tradition stronger than that of the other services," Thompson adds, referencing the overrepresentation of Naval officers on the Joint Staff.

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Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) pled not guilty today to 16 federal charges related to 11 separate bribery schemes.

Video of Jefferson saying: "Im going to fight my heart out to clear my name," is on the way.

Jefferson's case became famous when federal investigators found nearly $100,000 in cash in his freezer. He allegedly took the money from an FBI informant in a scheme to bribe a Nigerian official.

The judge has set a trial date for Jan. 16, 2008.

Late Update: Here's Jefferson speaking for the first time following the indictments:

Breaking news: Marine General Peter Pace -- "Perfect Pete," as he's known inside the Pentagon -- is out as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff after serving less than two years. Pace's announced departure comes just after the deputy joint chiefs chairman, Admiral Edmund Giambastiani, announced his own retirement last week.

ThinkProgress links to a report from defense expert Loren Thompson speculating that Pace's departure is "related more to the triggering of certain retirement benefits than his close association with the discredited former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld." Defense Secretary Bob Gates announced the nomination of Admiral Mike Mullen to replace Pace.

Update: Gates explained in a press conference that he feared Pace couldn't get through a nomination for another two-year term as chairman without it becoming a "contentious" forum on the administration's performance on Iraq and Afghanistan.

One intriguing portion of the Council of Europe's report into secret CIA prisons in Europe comes when trying to explain the opposition this inquiry has faced from the U.S. and from some European governments. In particular, early in the report, chief investigator Dick Marty cites Germany and Italy as key sources of obstruction. At paragraph 17, Marty offers an opaque explanation:

In the course of our investigations and through various specific circumstances, we have become aware of certain special mechanisms, many of them covert, employed by intelligence services in their counter-terrorist activities. It is no for us to judge these methods, although in this area, too, great liberties appear to be taken with lawfulness. Many of these methods give rise to chain reactions of blackmail and lies between different agencies and institutions in individual states, as well as between states. Therein may lie at least a partial explanation for certain governments' fierce opposition to revealing the truth. We cannot go into this phenomenon without putting human lives at risk...


It sounds a lot like Marty is accusing the European intelligence services, the CIA, the U.S. and various member-states with potentially threatening one another for cooperating with his investigation. A former senior CIA official tells Muckraker this is "complete bullshit," smacking of European politicians' paranoia over the supposedly limitless power of intelligence agencies. "They're always worried about mystical things -- for a long time, they thought the U.S. was manipulating their economies," says the ex-official, who emphasizes that he doesn't have first-hand knowledge about the inquiry. But partner intelligence services would "never, ever expose each other."

The ex-official's alternative explanation: the Council, lacking formal investigating authority into member states' national-security apparatus, "ran into some kind of block" -- evidently from Germany and Italy -- and "to fill in the gap, they relied on an ongoing tendency to blame intelligence agencies." And Marty does write that "The resources at our disposal to address the issues presented to us are completely inadequate to the task." But if Marty isn't simply blowing smoke, his inquiry may underscore how acrimonious an issue the secret prisons were between officials in the U.S. and Europe, as well as among European security officials.

Today the Council of Europe makes it official: Poland and Romania hosted secret detention facilities on behalf of the CIA.

In a just-released inquiry approved by the Council, investigator Dick Marty of Switzerland confirms Dana Priest's Pulitzer Prize-winning report for the Washington Post that unnamed Eastern European countries allowed the CIA to hold suspected al-Qaeda detainees on their territory, without access to legal protections or the International Committee of the Red Cross. For the first time, the Council on Europe's report names some of the detainees in the secret facilities: they include 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and former al-Qaeda military committee chief Abu Zubaydah. Both, Marty writes, "were questioned using 'enhanced interrogation techniques,'" making his report the first documentation by any public official to state definitively that such techniques have in fact been employed. In 2005, ABC News reported that such techniques include waterboarding, in which a detainee is forced to believe he is drowning.

Previous inquests by the European Parliament, most recently in February, stopped short of reporting definitively that the prisons existed, thanks mainly to lack of cooperation by U.S. and European intelligence officials, allowing the U.S., Poland and other suspected countries to maintain deniability over the prisons. In April, CIA Director Michael Hayden chastised the Parliament for what he called its "unbounded criticism" of CIA detentions, renditions and interrogations, which he and the CIA have consistently defended as both legal and necessary to combat al-Qaeda.

You can read Marty's report here at the TPM Document Collection. We'll bring you updates on its most significant revelations.

Following the recent indictment of Re. Jefferson (D-LA), as well as pesky scandals involving Duke Cunningham and Jack Abramoff, the Democratic House leadership is planning to take a bold new step in ethics reform: allowing outsiders to file ethics complaints. (Congressional Quarterly)

The lead prosecutor in the case of former Gov. Seigelman released a letter saying that he has never met with Karl Rove, disputing allegations in a recent affidavit that Bush’s architect played a role in ousting the former governor. (Montgomery Adviser)

The House heard complaints about NASA’s Inspector General Robert “Moose” Cobb yesterday. Cobb denies being the world’s meanest boss. (Washington Post)

James Holsinger, the Presdient’s recent nominee for surgeon general, is drawing protests from critics who say Holsinger has a strong bias against gays and lesbians. (Associated Press)

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There is nothing unusual about a congressman from Alaska secretly allocating $10 million for a Florida interchange or helping secure $81 million for a related project.

That’s what Rep. Don Young (R-AK) told the Anchorage Daily News in response to a New York Times story about his involvement in slipping Coconut Road in Fort Myers, Florida about $81 million. The extension of the road and the creation of an interchange is a boon for real estate developers in the area, several of whom are big Republican donors. One in particular, Daniel J. Aronoff, said he helped raise $40,000 for Young days before the $10 million earmark appeared because, as an Aronoff consultant explained: “We were looking for a lot of money.” Young was the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee at the time.

When a Times reporter approached Young near the House floor about the Coconut Road story the congressman gave the journalist an obscene gesture, apparently declining to comment. But yesterday Young sent a statement to the Anchorage Daily News saying this is all “old news:”

"Every story that comes out is the same, with different players and different projects," he said. "When you are the chairman of the largest committee in the House, and a senior member, and in charge of writing a $290-odd billion bill, it's a guarantee that you are going to be raising more money than other less senior members. ... It's also a guarantee that there will be a plethora of projects for people to look at and pick apart. This is a recycled story."


According to the local Alaska paper, Young recycles this defense. In April he gave the same explanation when asked about campaign contributions from a Wisconsin trucking executive alleged to have improperly benefited from road legislation originating in Young's committee.

The anti-American Iraqi cleric that the surge was supposed to marginalize is back in a big way.

Moqtada al-Sadr, whose Mahdi Army twice fought the U.S. in 2004 and who has emerged as a premier power broker among Iraq's majority Shiites, went into hiding at the beginning of the surge in February. As U.S. and Iraqi forces pushed into his Baghdad stronghold of Sadr City, the Bush administration pointed to Sadr's disappearance as an early victory for the escalation. But after months of behind-the-scenes rancor with the government of Nouri al-Maliki -- whose rise to power Sadr effectively sponsored -- Sadr emerged two weeks ago in the Shiite city of Kufa to again demand a U.S. withdrawal. And now, McClatchy's Leila Fadel reports, Sadr isn't shying away from his public, giving a rare interview to Iraqi state TV.

Perhaps most troublesome for the U.S. and the Maliki government, Sadr is increasingly portraying himself as a nationalist solution to the sectarian crisis in Iraq. As his interview reveals, his argument depends on a distressing conflation -- that the true enemies of both Sunni and Shiite Iraqis are the twin menaces of the U.S. and al-Qaeda. Maliki, he further argues, is powerless against the threat.

In the interview, al-Sadr said that "the layers of government and parties are turning their backs on the people." He added that the government is only half-hearted in its efforts to serve the people.

He said that Sunnis and Shiites have a common enemy - Sunni extremists, known in Iraqi Arabic as takfir. In Islam, takfir is the act of declaring someone an infidel.

"The enemy of all Islam has become the takfir," al-Sadr said. "Before they were killing Shiites with their car bombs. Now they are killing Sunnis with their car bombs. They have become a common enemy."

Al-Sadr, believed to be in his early 30s, sat before an Iraqi flag and the green Mahdi Army flag for the interview.

He ticked off a laundry list of Iraq's problems - sectarianism, lack of services, lack of security, the Mahdi Army's reputation as a brutal killer of Sunnis. But the culprit was always the same - "the occupation."


If that wasn't enough, Sadr has shown success in recent weeks reaching out to the very Sunnis the U.S. relies on to fight al-Qaeda: the tribal alliance in Anbar Province known as the Anbar Salvation Front. The TV appearance suggests that despite the surge's objective of suppressing the anti-American cleric, Sadr appears to be gaining strength at the expense of the U.S. and the Maliki government.

Yesterday we received the latest documents the Department of Justice handed over to Congress in the ongoing investigation into the agency.

Readers flagged two interesting pieces in our document dump thread. One email highlights the prominence of the conservative Federalist Society in the Justice Department and another raises more questions about how official processes have been carried out in the agency.

In one of the email messages flagged by readers -- and by McClatchy -- Leonard Leo the executive vice president of the Federalist Society offers then director of the Executive Office of the US Attorney his two cents in who would make a nice replacement for the US Attorney in San Diego. His suggestion was Mary Walker, who as McClatchy points out, has ties to the White House:

Walker led a Pentagon working group in 2003, which critics said helped provide the administration with a rationale to circumvent the international Geneva Conventions banning torture in the interrogations of terrorism suspects.


Leo’s recommendation is dated March 7, 2005, almost two years before Lam was fired, but just days before her name appeared on one of the firings lists.

The role of the Federalist Society has come up repeatedly during the investigation into the US attorney firings scandal. Most recently, Bradley Schlozman named the group in his testimony before a Senate panel as one approached when looking for new Justice Department hires while the head of the Civil Rights Division. (He couldn’t recall the names of liberal organizations he contacted.)

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