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"And I read some of the articles about this, about Dr. Kay's report today, in my opinion, there was one weapon of mass destruction in Iraq, and it was Saddam Hussein. ... I watched a video of Saddam sitting in an office and allowing two Doberman Pinschers to eat alive a general, a military general because he did not trust his loyalty. There was one weapon of mass destruction -- he's no longer in power. And I think that's what counts today."


-- Bernard Kerik, during the same press conference. CIA special envoy David Kay found there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The president's argument for war had something to do with WMD and not altogether much about dogs eating generals.

"I understand, probably more than anyone, what a threat Iraq was and the people that threatened Iraq was. I was beneath the towers on September 11th when they fell. And I -- again, I just -- I want to thank the President for the honor in allowing me to go there, because I lost 23 people. I wear this -- this memorial band for the 23 I lost."


-- Bernard Kerik, October 3, 2003, standing next to President Bush at the White House South Lawn. Iraq, it turns out, never had anything to do with 9/11.

How corrupt is Bernard Kerik? Let us count the ways.

As we indicated in today's Must Read, it's really hard to keep straight all of the scandals, mini-scandals, and sub-scandals that make up Bernie Kerik's general aura of muck.

Yesterday's indictment just scratches the surface. And that leaves us unsatisfied. So we'd like to compile a general catalogue of Kerik's malfeasance to bask in the full glow of his aura. Won't you help us?

Affairs, wrongful termination suits, improper gifts, shifty stock deals.... Help us out in the comments. And then later in the day, we'll post the results.

The Senate confirmed Mike Mukasey as the next Attorney General by a vote of 53-40. That's the fewest votes for an AG since 1952. (Washington Post)

The headline says it all: "Justice Department Returns to Enforcing Voter Laws." For the first time since the U.S. Attorney scandal, the agency is showing signs that it will reclaim its legal responsibility to facilitate voter registration for minorities. Despite his tortured statements on interrogation, Attorney General Mike Mukasey has spoken strongly on the need for an independent Justice Department, which is crucial to this type of enforcement. Keep your eyes open. (McClatchy)

Yesterday, the government informed defense attorneys for Omar Khadr (the Canadian terrorism suspect who was shipped to Guantanamo at age fifteen) that they would like to share some evidence relevant to Khadr’s defense – an eyewitness who could exonerate Khadr. The government has known about the eyewitness since 2002 but had classified the witnesses testimony. Even if the testimony exonerates Khadr, experts say that the Pentagon will likely detain Khadr indefinitely as a threat to the U.S. (LA Times)

Hustler Magazine keeps up its holy quest to out hypocritical conservatives. The publication is set to publish a tell-all interview with a New Orleans prostitute who had a relationship with Sen. David Vitter (R-LA). (Huffington Post)

An internal inquiry into FEMA's "press conference" has determined that the press secretary planned the event, coached his employees and made sure to end the briefing on a final, scripted question. He has since resigned (or was that staged too?). (Washington Post)

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Bernie Kerik indicted!

Wait a minute, you say. Is this about the thing with his nanny? No. The thing where he conspired with Jeanine Pirro, Hillary Clinton's one-time Republican opponent for the Senate, to illegally spy on her own husband to catch him cheating? No again. So it's about the dozens of illegal gifts Kerik accepted from his friend, Lawrence Ray, while head of the New York Police Department and the city's Department of Corrections. Sort of.

Granted, it's hard to keep it all straight. But the indictment, expected to be unsealed today, reportedly concentrates on just two of Bernie Kerik's bad choices.

The first was to let Interstate Industrial Corporation, a construction company with alleged ties to the Gambino crime family, pay $165,000 to renovate his apartment. At the time, 1999, Kerik was New York City's corrections commissioner. Interstate also had Kerik's brother and the aforementioned Lawrence Ray, who was best man at Kerik's wedding, on the payroll. And coincidentally, Interstate was vying for business with the city. Although Interstate didn't end up getting that contract, Kerik did manage to vouch for the company to city investigators, telling them that Interstate was clean of mob ties. He failed to mention, however, that the company was paying for his apartment job.

The second bad decision was to accept $200,000 in rent from one of the city's biggest real estate developers, Steve Witkoff (who, by the way, owns my favorite NYC building, the Woolworth). Kerik let Witkoff pay the $9,000 in monthly rent for his Upper East Side digs around the time he left city government, but kept the whole thing off the books. (The feds apparently will not accuse Witkoff of wrongdoing.)

The rest of the charges in the indictment you can call fallout from those bad choices. He did not report either substantial sums of money when it came time to pay taxes. And he for some reason neglected to mention them on his 2004 application to run the Department of Homeland Security.

We'll get a copy of the indictment itself when it's available. For now, contemplate just how bad of a decision it was for Rudy Guiliani to recommend Kerik for the jobs of NYC's top cop, and then head of DHS.

Update/Correction: Actually, the nanny does appear to have made her way into the indictment.

On the heels of today's torture hearings in a House Judiciary subcommittee, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), the subcommittee chairman, and Rep. William Delahunt (D-MA) have introduced a bill to force all American interrogators to conform to the Geneva Conventions-compliant standards of the Army Field Manual on Interrogation (pdf). That would mean no waterboarding, no "cold cells," no stress positions -- none of that stuff that Malcolm Nance and Steve Kleinman testified doesn't work anyway.

Under current law -- Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) 2005 Detainee Treatment Act -- torture is (once again) prohibited, but the law's provisions don't apply outside the U.S. military. The CIA still, in principle, can employ "enhanced interrogation" techniques, waterboarding being among the most infamous. In September, CIA Director Mike Hayden resisted bringing CIA interrogations in line with the Army Field Manual, telling the Council on Foreign Relations, "I don't know of anyone who has looked at the Army Field Manual who could make the claim that what's contained in there exhausts the universe of lawful interrogation techniques consistent with the Geneva Convention." Michael Mukasey echoed that sentiment during his confirmation hearings.

The Nadler-Delahunt bill, called the American Anti-Torture Act of 2007, would indeed make the field manual exhaustive of that "universe of lawful interrogation techniques."

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Hans von Spakovsky, whose nomination for the Federal Election Commission is currently stalled in the Senate, may have left the Justice Department in 2005, but his influence remains. A prime example is in Florida, where the state legislature, evidently following von Spakovsky's advice, passed a law that could disenfranchise tens of thousands of legitimate voters. Now civil rights groups are trying to stop the law before it affects the 2008 elections.

The law, scheduled to go in effect in January, would require the state to reject voter registrations if the state cannot match the information on registration applications to driver's license or Social Security records. Because such records tend to be riddled with errors, tens of thousands of "perfectly eligible voters" will be knocked off the rolls, the NAACP and other groups charged in a lawsuit this September, resulting in "disenfranchisement-by-bureaucracy." Compounding the problem, the law shortened the number of days that rejected voters have to present evidence that they're a legitimate voter from three to two days.

Florida was just one of a number of states that adopted such a law after von Spakovsky, then a lawyer with the Civil Rights Division, issued a letter to Maryland's attorney general in 2003 advising that the Help American Vote Act required states to reject voter registrations that did not match databases.

Joe Rich, the 40-year veteran of the Civil Rights Division who was then the chief of the voting section, told me that von Spakovsky wrote the letter without consulting him. Rich called it a "very strict reading of the law" which would "disenfranchise a lot of people" and compared it to Florida's disastrous attempt to purge ex-felons from the voter rolls in 2000 (a purge that was also von Spakovsky's brain child.)

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Rep.Trent Franks (R-AZ) won't let it go. During today's House Judiciary Committee hearing on torture, he asked Colonel Steve Kleinman whether it would be irresponsible -- as Alan Dershowitz recently argued in an op-ed -- not to torture someone if all else fails in an interrogation. Kleinman replied that Dershowitz "clouds the issue" and his op-ed "reflects a lack of understanding of the intelligence process." But then he offered a brief explanation of that process that sheds light on why torture is counterproductive for a professional interrogator, leaving aside questions of morality and law.

It's not just what a subject says in an interrogation that an interrogator needs to watch for clues, Kleinman said. The way in which he expresses himself is significant: does the subject fidget? Does he shift in his seat? Does he gesture, or suddenly stop gesturing? All of these non-verbal clues -- "clusters, groupings of behaviors," Kleinman called them -- provide interrogators with valuable information to observe what a detainee is like when he's lying, when he's being uncooperative, and when he's being truthful, or a combination of the three.

But if a detainee has his hands tied, or if a detainee shivers because a room is chilled, then "I don't know whether he's shivering because the room is cold or because my questions are penetrating," Kleinman said. That degree of abuse "takes away a lot of my tools." It's one of the clearest explanations in the public record about what torture costs professional interrogators in terms of actionable intelligence, as the debate is so often set up as what a lack of torture ends up costing national security.

Franks didn't seem so satisfied, but told both Kleinman and Nance that he had the "deepest respect for your motivations, regardless of any disagreements with you." Looks like Nance's warnings yesterday were taken to heart. The hearing ended free of any swiftboating.

Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL) asked during today's hearing whether even the impression that the U.S. tortures makes it more likely that an adversary in a future conflict -- he used the Iranians as an example -- would torture captured U.S. or allied troops.

Former Navy instructor Malcolm Nance said he considered it a "guarantee" that other nations now have "a legal standard to subject American soldiers to enhanced interrogations." U.S. Air Force Reserve Colonel Steve Kleinman said he "agree[s] entirely."

During today's hearing in the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), fresh off an intellectually stimulating comparison of torture to abortion (he questioned why the committee isn't concerned about abortion, even though some abortion techniques torture the woman), asked about the so-called "ticking" bomb case -- that is, an uncooperative detainee has surefire knowledge of an imminent attack. Should you torture him then? Franks himself said several times this morning that he's against torture, by the way.

Now, the ticking-bomb case -- depending on where you sit on the torture question -- is either the hardest test of someone's sense of balance between human rights and national security or a rhetorical trap designed to box opponents of torture into saying that it's better for Sheboygan to be nuked than someone be waterboarded. But the question was handled by U.S. Air Force Reserve Colonel Steve Kleinman, a longtime military interrogator and intelligence officer. He said that even in the ticking bomb case, torture would be the wrong call. "'I'd say it'd be unneccesary to conduct our affairs outside the boundaries," Kleinman replied. His experience "proves the legal and moral concerns to be almost immaterial, because what we'd need to do to be operationally effective" wouldn't involve torture.

Which makes sense, considering that U.S.'s SERE instructors teach their students that torture just "Produces Unreliable Information."

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