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The fallout from George Mitchell's 409-page report (pdf) into baseball's Steroids Era (Mitchell's words) is yet to fully drop. We're still combing the report for the most explosive revelations -- no big surprise that Yankee greats Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte juiced -- but for now, this Yankee fan wants to bring you his moment of schadenfreude. To wit: the 2007 World Champion Boston Red Sox. According to Mitchell, Sox general manager Theo Epstein acquired flop reliever Eric Gagne nearly a year after learning of serious circumstantial evidence of Gagne's steroid use.

Gagne and Paul Lo Duca were teammates in Los Angeles from 1999 to 2004. During that time, Gagne used Lo Duca, who went on to a beloved career catching for the Mets (sorry, Paul), as his hook-up to steroid and human-growth hormone pusher Kirk Radomski. The Red Sox scouted Gagne, once a valuable relief pitcher, after the 2006 season, when Epstein began overhauling the Sox pitching staff. Yet a certain concern lingered. On November 1, 2006, Epstein emailed his scout, Mark Delpiano, "Have you done any digging on Gagne? I know the Dodgers think he was a steroid guy. Maybe so. What do you hear on his medical?"

Delpiano replied:

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Earlier we noted that the Senate Judiciary Committee had voted to approve contempt resolutions against Karl Rove and White House chief of staff Josh Bolten for failing to comply with subpoenas from the U.S. Attorney firings probe.

The final vote tally was 12-7, with two Republicans, Sens. Arlen Specter (R-PA) Chuck Grassley (R-IA) crossing over.

Now, it's up to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) as to when (or whether) he'll scheduled a vote on the Senate floor. When we asked a Reid aide last week about it, we were told the Reid would consult with Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) about it when the time came.

Meanwhile, the House Judiciary Committee's contempt citations against Harriet Miers and Bolten have been sitting on Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-CA) desk since July. After much delay, Dem House leadership aides said last month that the vote had again been delayed to December. So now's the time. Perhaps the Senate and House will team up and schedule both votes before the New Year, sending the White House contempt citations against Rove, Miers, and Bolten as a Christmas gift. Or maybe nothing will happen. Stay tuned.

Although Jose Rodriguez might have felt he had good reason to destroy the CIA's 2002 interrogation tapes, the destruction threatens to break the agency's surprisingly sterling record of escaping prosecution for torture, so not many people would defend it as a wise move. But surely an even dumber move is the 2002 decision to videotape the interrogations in the first place.

Various explanations abound, but none of them are definitive -- least of all CIA Director Mike Hayden's.

Very little is known, and none of it for certain, about why the tapes ever existed. It's astonishing that in 2002, CIA officials wouldn't have realized the tapes were evidence of potential criminal conduct. Clearly they realized shortly thereafter, since the CIA spent years trying, and failing, to get outside legal authority to destroy them.

Last Thursday, Hayden ventured an explanation to CIA employees. Via Marty Lederman:

The tapes were meant chiefly as an additional, internal check on the program in its early stages. At one point, it was thought the tapes could serve as a backstop to guarantee that other methods of documenting the interrogations---and the crucial information they produce--were accurate and complete. The Agency soon determined that its documentary reporting was full and exacting, removing any need for tapes.

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Rudy Giuliani and his cohorts at Giuliani Partners have insisted he's no lobbyist. But there's mounting evidence to the contrary. Maybe he's so averse to the term because his firm lobbied illegally.

Exhibit A is today's Time story, which for the first time reveals details about just what Hank Asher, Giuliani's troubled buddy, paid him so much money to do.

As we laid out in a series of posts last week, Giuliani struck a pretty sweet deal with Asher during his first year of business. Asher's Seisint was hocking its data-mining software, code-named MATRIX, to the government. Rudy's job was to serve as a kind of front man for the company, in part so that Asher's drug-running past wouldn't be an issue. The contract, for a previously untold amount of money, was based on a $2 million yearly fee, commissions, and stock options. A stock holder in the company was so alarmed by the giveaway that he sued Seisint; the case was settled.

Today, Time puts a price tag on all that: $30 million, $24 million of that from stock options. And what did Rudy do for the money? It turns out, plenty.

Well, first and foremost, he lobbied. A shareholder in Seisint tells Time that "nobody knew us; everybody knew him," and that with Giuliani, "the doors were wide open. It was almost a flood of business opportunities." The company's in-house lobbyist says that Giuliani set up a meeting at the Department of Homeland Security.

The White House looks like another one of those doors that Giuliani opened. In January of 2003, just a month after Seisint hired Giuliani, Asher gave a presentation to Vice President Dick Cheney, FBI director Robert Mueller, Homeland Security director Tom Ridge, and Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) in the Roosevelt Room at the White House on MATRIX, according to documents obtained by the ACLU back in 2004. (The ACLU doggedly opposed MATRIX; Asher responded by once joking that the ACLU "is probably funded" by Al Qaeda. I'm sure he and Cheney got along fine.)

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This just in:

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to hold two top aides to President Bush in contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate in its probe of fired federal prosecutors.

On a largely party-line vote of 11-7, the Democratic-led panel sent contempt citations against White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove to the full Senate for consideration.

As with many of Bush's battles with the Democratic-led Senate, the president may ultimately prevail since his fellow Republicans may be able to block the citations with a procedural hurdle.

Bush has claimed executive privilege to protect aides from complying with congressional subpoenas demanding documents or testimony in an investigation into the firing last year of nine U.S. attorneys. The committee has rejected his privilege claim as unfounded.

The U.S. has just released 15 more Guantanamo Bay detainees, bringing the total number of detainees who have never been charged or tried to 485. This leaves approximately 290 detainees, of which the government plans to prosecute about 80 in military tribunals. A portion of the remaining 200 have been cleared for transfer provided some nation will accept them. 1 detainee has been convicted in the history of the Guantanamo system. (USA Today)

Despite the failures of the military tribunal system at Guantanamo, Defense Secretary Robert Gates says that his push to close the prison camp has run into “obstacles” from the administration’s lawyers and Dick Cheney. Cheney “opposes bringing detainees to the US under such a system, because they would receive greater legal rights.” (Financial Times)

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed an ethics complaint with the Senate alleging that senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) violated rules by “contacting the U.S. Attorney in Albuquerque, New Mexico, David C. Iglesias, and pressuring him about an ongoing corruption probe.” Now, Domenici wants to use campaign funds to pay his legal fees from the ethics investigation. (CREW)

Federal law enforcement has subpoenaed the financial records and employees of Rev. Al Sharpton’s 2004 presidential campaign. The FBI declined to comment but Carl Redding, Sharpton's chief of staff for eight years during the 1990s, said "it was like a sting or a raid... they converged on everybody." (Chicago Tribune)

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When it comes to torture, it's the system.

Today's New York Times carries a valuable analysis by Scott Shane running through how the revelation of the destroyed CIA torture tapes underscores the agency's fears of having the administration turn on it. That is, after manipulating the law to justify ordering the CIA's torture of Abu Zubaydah, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and other al-Qaeda detainees, the Bush administration might finally prosecute someone low on the CIA food chain for doing what they ordered him or her to do. The agency watched Donald Rumsfeld, William Haynes and Ricardo Sanchez walk while Lynndie England and Charles Graner took the fall for Abu Ghraib. No one wants to be the Lynndie England of the Black Sites.

The administration hasn't gone down this road yet. But, from the CIA's perspective, the destruction of the tapes might bring it dangerously close. After all, if the Justice Department-CIA probe finds that Jose Rodriguez committed a crime by destroying evidence when he had the tapes junked, it raises the question of what those tapes contained evidence of. There are reams of evidence -- legal guidance from John Yoo, for instance, some still classified -- of what the underlying crime is.

So how does the CIA get out of it? Why, blame the system. Consider this passage from Shane:

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Since we're talking about destroying tapes of interrogations, why limit it to those made in secret CIA prisons? The Chicago Tribune reports today that Abu Omar, a suspected terrorist abducted in Italy and flown to Egypt by the CIA, says that "his captors made audiotapes of his extensive interrogations in an Egyptian prison that recorded 'the sounds of my torture and my cries.'"

That raises several questions, says Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), and he asked them in a flurry of letters today.

In a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, he asks whether she knows if interrogations of detainees rendered by the United States to foreign countries were recorded, and if so, whether any have been reviewed "to verify compliance with diplomatic assurances not to torture detainees?"

In his letter to CIA Director Michael Hayden, he asks whether he knows of any such recordings and whether the CIA has any -- and whether, well, they've already destroyed them.

And his letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey requests that the Justice Department's investigation into the destruction of the tapes include possible tapes of interrogations of rendered detainees -- and they're possible destruction.

Yep, that's right. The American Bar Association Journal has named Alberto Gonzales Lawyer of the Year. Wait a minute, you say, isn't that like naming Alec Baldwin Father of the Year?

But there's a rationale. Gonzales makes the cut for being the "most talked-about" lawyer around, not for the quality of his lawyering. True, most of the talking had to do with how he should resign, but there was undoubtedly a lot of talk. Other administration figures like Monica Goodling, Scooter Libby, and David Addington -- also much "talked-about" -- got honorable mention.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has a choice. Both the Senate intelligence committee and Senate Judiciary Committee produced versions of the surveillance bills last month. But there's a crucial difference between the two. The intelligence committee's bill contains retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies that collaborated with the administration's warrantless wiretapping program. The judiciary committee's does not.

Today, fourteen senators (thirteen Dems and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)) wrote Reid to urge him to have the judiciary committee's version be the base bill for the Senate debate. "As this is such a controversial issue, we feel it would be appropriate to require the proponents of immunity to make their case on the floor," they write. Presidential candidates Sens. Joe Biden (D-DE), Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Chris Dodd (D-CT), and Barack Obama (D-IL) signed on. The letter is below.

In an op-ed in The Los Angeles Times this morning, Attorney General Michael Mukasey came out in favor of the Senate intelligence committee's bill.

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