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Nothing can ever be easy with these two.

The Justice Department, on behalf of Harriet Miers and Joshua Bolten, filed its request for appeal today in the July 31 ruling in House Judiciary Committee v. Miers et al.

While the appeal is resolved, however, the DOJ also requested that the judge grant a stay on the subpoenas, allowing Miers and Bolten to continue to evade the House Judiciary Committee.

From the AP:

Without a quick stay of the ruling, Miers and Bolten may be forced to testify before an appeal can be heard, the two said in a court filing. Democrats have announced they would schedule hearings in September, at the height of election season.

"Whatever the proper resolution of the extraordinarily important questions presented, the public interest clearly favors further consideration of issues before defendants are required to take actions that may forever alter the constitutional balance of separation of powers," the Bolten and Miers request said.

A stay would also benefit Republicans, since the subpoenas expire at the end of the year, not long before Bush leaves office.
Late Update: Also today, White House Counsel Fred Fielding sent a letter to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, saying that despite the court order last week, the White House will wait for the outcome of its appeal before responding to further subpoena request.

Once again, the House Judiciary Committee is trying to get the Republican National Committee to turn over a stack of documents for its probe of the firing of U.S. attorneys for political reasons.

The HJC's interest in the documents comes after previous Justice Department emails revealed that Karl Rove and his aides often used the RNC email accounts to communicate about the U.S. attorneys.

The committee subpoenaed the RNC for the documents last year. The RNC refused and the House Judiciary Committee chair, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), threatened the chairman of the RNC with contempt of Congress.

Today, Conyers takes up the fight again with a fresh letter to the RNC. Conyers reiterates the request and points to last week's court ruling when a federal judge dismissed the White House claims to blanket immunity from Congressional oversight.

Although the case did not address the RNC specifically, Conyers says the ruling gives the RNC no excuse for not complying with the 13-month-old subpoena.

From The Hill:

A U.S district court judge said Thursday that Sen. Ted Stevens's (R-Alaska) criminal case could be wrapped up before the end of October while announcing an expedited schedule for jury selection.

Judge Emmet G. Sullivan indicated that 150 potential jurors could be contacted as early as this week and that jury selection would begin Sept. 23. That process could last two days, but the trial could begin as soon as Sept. 24.

"What we don't have is a lot of time between now and the commencement of the trial," Sullivan said, adding that the case would take "approximately four weeks."

Under that scenario, a jury might have enough time to offer a verdict before Election Day, when Stevens is seeking his seventh full Senate term. The longest-serving Republican senator has pleaded not guilty to charges of allegedly concealing more than $250,000 worth of gifts from an oil-services company.

Stevens missed Thursday's procedural hearing at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, campaigning instead in Alaska, where he faces six primary challengers on Aug. 26. If he wins, the 84-year-old Stevens would face 46-year-old Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich in the general election.

The judge is expected to rule on Stevens' motion to hold the trial in Alaska rather than Washington at an August 20 hearing.

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was ordered to jail today, for violating the terms of his bond.

From ABCNews in Detroit:

The mayor violated his bond when he went to Canada July 23 without informing the court, a condition of his bond. The judge also pointed out that the mayor had to make many calls and arrangements for his trip to Canada and could have easily called the court to alert it of the trip.

The 36th District Court judge stressed that he was treating Detroit's mayor in the same way he would "John Sixpack."

The order is the latest in what has been dubbed the "Text Message Scandal". In January of this year, the Detroit Free Press obtained a series of text messages between Kilpatrick and his Chief of Staff Christine Beatty. The messages contradicted both Kilpatrick and Beatty's testimony under oath that they had not engaged in a sexual relationship.

In March, Kilpatrick was charged with conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice, obstruction of justice, two counts of misconduct in office and four counts of perjury.

Late update: It appears that Kilpatrick will be spending the night in jail.

An excellent interactive timeline of the events can be found at the Detroit Free Press.

Late Late update: From the AP: The mayor is on his way to jail, where he will be outfitted in a green jumpsuit and kept in a restricted area.

The FBI has uncovered a medical fraud scheme in which hospitals in L.A. used homeless people to pose as patients in order to get a full patient-load and obtain government money. Some hospital officials involved are now being charged with draining the government of millions of dollars in health services. (AP)

An Iraqi official from Prime Minister al-Maliki's Dawa Party defended the Iraqi government's spending, saying critics are overlooking progress in Baghdad. The estimated $79 billion government budget surplus was revealed earlier this week in a GAO report. (AP)

The White House said it was pleased with yesterday's conviction of Salim Hamdan, despite the military commission's acquittal on several of the more serious charges for Osama bin Laden's driver. Although some critics have questioned the military commission's process, the White House continued to defend the system as "fair and appropriate". (AP)

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In trying to make the case that military scientist Bruce Ivins was a lunatic who sent anthrax through the mail and killed five people, federal agents disclosed a batch of emails Ivins wrote before and after the attack letters were sent.

The feds presumably plucked them from thousands of emails Ivins sent over the past several years. They paint a picture of a disturbed and well-medicated individual. They're laid out in a 25-page affidavit that federal agents drew up last fall when asking for search warrants.

The affidavit, unsealed and disclosed publicly yesterday, spotlights one email from just a few days after the first anthrax letter was sent. The affidavit draws a parallel with the phrasing in one of the unsigned anthrax letters, which read: "We have this anthrax...Death to America...Death to Israel," according to the court document.

Sept. 26, 2001, [Ivins wrote] "Of the people in my "group" everyone but me is in the depression/sadness/flight mode for stress. I'm really the only scary one in the group. Others are talking about how sad they are or scared they are, but my reaction to the WTC/Pentagon events is far different. Of course, I don't talk about how I really feel with them - it would just make them worse. Seeing how differently I reacted than they did to the recent events makes me really think about myself a lot. I just heard tonight that Bin Laden terrorists for sure have anthrax and sarin gas. You [REDACTED].

In that same September 26, 2001 email, Dr. Ivins states "Osama Bin Laden has just decreed death to all Jews and all Americans" -- language similar to the text of the anthrax letters postmarked two weeks later warning "DEATH TO AMERICA," "DEATH TO ISRAEL."
The affidavit does not provide the full context of Ivins' Bin Laden remark here. And, as Glenn Greenwald at Salon noted, alarmist reports about Bin Laden and Islamic radicalism were common in the daily press at that time.

The affidavit does not disclose any of the emails' recipients.

Other emails featured in the affidavit include:
"June 27, 2000, "Even with the Celexa and the counseling, the depression episodes still come and go. That's unpleasant enough. What is REALLY scary is the paranoia...Remember when I told you about the "metallic" taste in my mouth that I got periodically? It's when I get these "paranoid" episodes. Of course I regret them thoroughly when they are over, but when I'm going through them, it's as if I'm on a passenger on a ride...Ominously, a lot of the feelings of isolation - and desolation - that I went through before college are returning. I don't want to relive those years again...I've been seeing the counselor once a week."

Read more for additional emails.

Read More →

The first anthrax-laced letter was sent out on Sept. 18, 2001.

And according to the FBI, Dr. Bruce Ivins was probably plotting and preparing his anthrax attacks for several weeks before that -- starting back as early as August 2001.

Among the pile of circumstantial evidence that federal agents compiled against Ivins was a log of his frequent night hours in the lab in 2001. (The military lab at Fort Detrick has electronic locks with swipe cards that allow detailed monitoring of people who have access to the stocks of the world's most dangerous biological agents.)

And the chart the FBI compiled shows that he began spending a lot of extra time in the lab at night in August.

Ivins explained to the FBI that he was having family problems at the time and preferred working late to going home.

On March 31, 2005, Dr. Ivins was asked by Task Force Investigators about his access to [the lab known as] B3 and could provide no legitimate reason for the extended hours other than "home was not good" and he went there "to escape" from his life at home.

Ivins provided that alibi back in March of 2005. The FBI didn't buy it. Which raises questions about why it took the FBI another two and a half years to ask for a search warrant for Ivins' home.

For a comprehensive timeline of the whole anthrax investigation, check out Marcy Wheeler's over here.

The big turning point in the FBI's seven-year investigation came when scientists confirmed that the anthrax used in the 2001 letter attacks came from a specific flask stored at the military lab at Fort Detrick in Maryland.

"The key breakthrough was the science that focused their attention laser-like on that flask," said U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Taylor at a news conference today.

It was a flask that was "created and solely maintained" by Dr. Bruce Ivins, the key suspect who killed himself last week. Others at the lab also had access to the flask, officials said.

The FBI identified the flask as the source no later than March 2005, according to a set of court documents unsealed today.

But it was not until October 2007 that federal agents went to a judge seeking a search warrant for Ivins' home.

Identifying the source of the anthrax used in the attacks took several years.

In 2002, federal agents first asked for a sample from Ivins' jar of anthrax. He provided one but the FBI says it was bogus, possibly an effort to obstruct the investigation, according to the search warrant.

The feds were suspicious enough in April 2004 to send an FBI agent back to the military lab in Fort Detrick to seize the flask of anthrax, known as "RMR-1029." The flask was sealed with evidence tape and carried out by FBI contractors.

Nine months later, on March 31, 2005, the FBI confronted Ivins with their belief that he had not given them the sample they asked for.

"Dr. Ivins was adamant in his response that there had been no omission from his [REDACTED] submission, and he insisted that he had provided RMR-1029 to the FBI in his second submission samples in April 2002," according to the affidavit.

Even after that conversation, it took more than two years until they sought a search warrant for Ivins' home.

So what took so long?

Reporters posed that question to Taylor at this afternoon's press conference.

It's important to remember how complex, complicated, this investigation was. At the outset we had to identify the universe of persons and labs that might have access to this type of anthrax, once we identified what type of anthrax it was. And then over the years there were efforts to shrink the size of that pool. ...

We've got a video of the rest of his response.

Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) is making good on his promise "to travel to any place in the state. . . to listen to Alaskans." On Saturday, Stevens visited the small town of Ketchikan, for their annual blueberry festival and gave an interesting quote to the Ketchikan Daily News (sub. req.):

"This is an indictment for failure to disclose gifts that are controversial in terms of whether they were or were not gifts. It's not bribery; it's not some corruption; it's not some extreme felony."

Interesting defense, senator. We wonder how that will go over with the judge.

From the AP:

Army scientist Bruce Ivins "was the only person responsible" for anthrax attacks in 2001 that killed five and rattled the nation, the Justice Department said Wednesday, backing up the claim with dozens of documents all pointing to his guilt.

Documents made public alleged that Ivins, who committed suicide last week, had sole custody of highly purified anthrax spores with "certain genetic mutations identical" to the poison used in the attacks. Investigators also said they had traced back to his lab the type of envelopes used to send the deadly spores through the mails.

Ivins killed himself last week as investigators closed in, and U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Taylor said, "We regret that we will not have the opportunity to present evidence to the jury."

The newly released court documents are available here.