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So it continues.

As part of their ongoing challenge of the signatures gathered for Green Senate candidate Carl Romanelli, the Pennsylvania Democrats are analyzing them for fraud. And William J. Ries, a forensic document examiner working for them, has found that a petition signed by John Michael Glick, a Santorum staffer (of duck costume fame), has four "questionable" signatures.

The signatures belong to family members of another fellow staffer, Julianne George, Santorum’s Deputy Director of Coalitions. You can see a side by side comparison of the signatures here.

“The writing expert’s findings raise serious questions, not only about the illegal financing of the petition drive paid for by Santorum backers but how he authorizes the use of campaign staff for apparent fraud," Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chairman T.J. Rooney said.

Democrats say that more than 69,000 of the approximately 100,000 signatures gathered by Santorum staffers and JSM, Inc., a private company hired by the Greens with Republican money, are fraudulent.

Vice President Dick Cheney has hired a lawyer to defend him against the Valerie Plame/Joseph Wilson civil suit, court documents reveal.

The lawyer, Emmet T. Flood of Williams & Connolly, certainly has White House experience: he was a member of former president Bill Clinton's impeachment defense team. Despite that, he appears to be a reliable Republican: a check of campaign donor records shows he has given solely to GOP candidates.

Cheney is being sued for unspecified damages by former CIA officer Valerie Plame and her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, for revealing her identity and profession.

Outed CIA officer Valerie Plame and her husband, former ambassador Joe Wilson, have swapped lawyers in their suit against three Bush administration officials. The non-profit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, headed by former Justice Department prosecutor Melanie Sloan, is now representing the couple, according to a news release from the group.

Plame and Wilson are suing White House adviser Karl Rove, vice president Dick Cheney and former Cheney chief of staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby for unspecified damages for revealing Plame's identity.

Yesterday afternoon I spoke with Bonnie Erbe, whose political discussion show has featured a senior Bush-appointed official without identifying her job for the administration.

Erbe said she sees nothing wrong with the arrangement, even when the official -- Karen Czarnecki, a top aide to Labor Secretary Elaine Chao -- discussed policies and issues on which she worked.

"She's appearing independently and her opinions haven't changed at all," Erbe told me. "She's always been a pretty conservative commentator. That's why we used her, we want all views expressed."

The reason the show has not disclosed Czarnecki's day job, Erbe said, was because the government asked her not to. "Those are the terms on which she could continue to appear," the host said, explaining that Czarnecki had appeared on her show for several years before she took the government position. "The only terms on which we could keep her was to not identify her as a Bush person."

It looks like the Republicans' gambit to get a Green candidate on the ballot in Pennsylvania is succeeding, by pulling votes from the Democratic candidate -- though not enough (yet) to throw the race to the GOP.

According to a new Quinnipiac University poll, with the Green, Democrat Bob Casey leads Rick Santorum 45 percent to 39 percent; Green Party candidate Carl Romanelli picks up 5 percent. In a two-way race, Casey leads 47 percent to 40 percent.

As we noted earlier, Homeland Security Secretary Mike Chertoff has suggested that giving federal law enforcers the power to arrest people without charges and hold them for up to a month is a good idea.

Of course, his department doesn't have primary responsibilty for such investigations. That belongs to the FBI. And it turns out they're a bit shy of the topic.

"I think that on something like this, when it deals with what the law is, it's really more appropriate for the Department of Justice to talk about that," FBI spokesman Paul Bresson told me. "We're not going to opine on what laws would be better, what should be strengthened."

Really? If that's the FBI's policy, it's a new one. In the past, the bureau has loudly told Congress and the world what kind of legislation it thought it needed to do its job.

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Now that the British are grabbing headlines for busting an operational terrorist plot, administration officials are starting a push to expand U.S. law enforcement powers to match those of our former colonial overlords.

"Frankly," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said on Fox News Sunday, "[British law enforcement's] ability to hold people for a period of time gives them a tremendous advantage.”

Now, Chertoff's appetite for long-term detentions is well-established. He was, after all, the man at the Justice Department behind the massive roundup and detention of aliens in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. But that episode didn't end well -- for Chertoff, and especially for the detainees. In 2003, an internal Justice probe found serious problems with the detentions, noting that while the Justice Department followed Chertoff's plan to "hold these people until we find out what’s going on," it was also physically and verbally abusing many of the detainees. Terrorism charges were never brought against any of the detainees.

If that isn't reason enough to question the petitioner, there's this: Chertoff is now the head of the Homeland Security Department. But DHS doesn't have the lead on domestic terrorism investigations. (That belongs to the FBI.) So why is he pushing for powers that would mainly be used by another branch? More to the point, where's the FBI on this?

Despite word of at least a handful of meetings between senior White House adviser Karl Rove and fallen GOP superlobbyist Jack Abramoff (and the fact that Rove hired Abramoff's personal assistant), so far Rove has been relatively successful in squelching reports that he and Abramoff were friendly.

But a forthcoming book from James Moore and Wayne Slater, the authors of Bush's Brain, will add more detail to the Abramoff-Rove relationship:

...Information provided to us for the book by an eyewitness and participant in Rove and Abramoff meetings gives lie to Rove and the White House's claims that Abramoff was barely known by the administration. Karl has always known who has money to spend on politics and how to use those people. Our witness, who also told the same story to federal investigators, details meetings between Rove and Abramoff that show the two were using each other for their own political ends.


Rove, unsurprisingly, is unhappy about the book and has denied the meetings occurred. We look forward to the details.

In Wake of Plot, Justice Dept. Will Study Britain’s Terror Laws Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales on Monday ordered a side-by-side review of American and British counterterrorism laws as a first step toward determining whether further changes in American law are warranted.

"Newly revised British counterterrorism laws, for instance, allow the authorities to hold a suspect for 28 days without charges, where American law generally requires that a suspect held in the civilian court system be charged or released within 48 hours.

"'[F]rankly. . . their ability to hold people for a period of time gives them a tremendous advantage,' [Homeland Security Secretary Michael] Chertoff added.'” (NYTimes)

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A letter to the editor in yesterday's Philadelphia Daily News reads:

I was one of the 100,000 Pennsylvanians who signed the "Romanelli petition" in an attempt to get him on the ballot for the November election, and I am revolted by Bob Casey's efforts to block his candidacy.

I think it is appalling when the first real action of a Senate candidate is trying to remove another candidate from the ballot, as has been the case with Bob Casey Jr. Not only has Casey remained silent on the issues, but now attempts to silence another voice seeking to join in the democratic process.

One hundred thousand Pennsylvanians have signed petitions to get Mr. Romanelli on the ballot, and Casey would just as soon see that they are cheated out of their efforts. This is the move of a career politician and someone who does not have the best interests of Pennsylvanians in mind.


The letter is signed by an Edward Smith of Flourtown, Pennsylvania.

It will surprise no one who's followed this story that an Edward Smith of Flourtown gave $500 to George W. Bush in 2003, according to FEC reports.

But maybe it's another Edward Smith? Maybe. But Flourtown has a population of approximately 5,000 and a search of 411 only turns up one Edward Smith there. And the letter does remarkably avoid any mention of the writer's political philosophy.

So it appears that not only did Republicans fund the Green candidate's signature drive and help staff that drive, but now they've taken to writing outraged letters to newspapers on his behalf.

Thanks to TPM Reader DB for catching this.

Late Update: TPM Reader JS points out that an Edward Smith is on the Montgomery County Republican Committee -- Flourtown is in the east part of Montgomery County.

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