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House Suspends Crooked Ney Telecom Contract "House leaders have suspended a multimillion-dollar wireless communications license that federal prosecutors say was corruptly awarded to a Dulles telecommunications firm by Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio) in exchange for gifts from lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

"The award of the license was one of a series of acts that Ney said he performed for Abramoff in exchange for campaign contributions, expensive meals, luxury travel and sports tickets. Ney agreed this month to plead guilty to corruption charges and is set to enter his plea Oct. 13. (WaPo)

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Newsweek's Mark Hosenball and Mike Isikoff say the Iraq NIE is barely begun:

At the time the Iraq study was first proposed, intelligence sources said there was some pressure on agencies to produce the paper so it would be available before the November congressional elections—even if its contents remained classified, as is customary with such documents.

But as of this week, one official said, Negroponte's office was still exchanging messages with the agencies working on the paper about the document's "terms of reference"—the broad outlines of questions which the new estimate is expected to answer. Given that its structure has still not been agreed, the likelihood of the Iraq paper being completed before the midterm elections has become remote; officials now are talking about finishing it by next January. . . .

Like the newly released NIE on terrorism, the upcoming intelligence estimate on Iraq is likely to contrast with public pronouncements of progress from the White House. In secret papers and briefings over the last 18 months, intelligence professionals have repeatedly portrayed a bleak picture in which disorder in Iraq appears to be growing rather than receding.

They also warn that there's another dangerous report that's in the wings: an "up-to-date assessment of the progress—or lack thereof—that the government of Iran is making in its alleged efforts to develop nuclear weapons." No word on its status.

Boy, it's been a rough year for Jeanine Pirro. First her fledging challenge to Sen. Hilary Clinton (D-NY) exploded after the worst campaign launch ever.

Now she's under federal investigation for plotting -- with onetime NYPD chief, former Iraq security head, would-be DHS secretary and crook Bernard Kerik -- to illegally spy on her own husband. (Come to think of it, it hasn't been a great year for Kerik, either). Oh, did I mention that their conversations were recorded?

Sources told NewsChannel 4 that in one conversation, Pirro allegedly complained that one of Kerik's employees is reluctant to board Albert Pirro's boat.

Jeanine Pirro suggests, "We can just simply say, if there is an issue, that I am redecorating it for our anniversary.” She complains that Kerik’s man is, “uncomfortable with that.”

Kerik responds by saying, “But Janine, I’m having the same f------g problem with everybody… everybody is panic stricken because it’s you… I’ve gone out on a limb… I had two other people looking at this… it’s a problem.”

Pirro says, “What am I supposed to do, Bernie? Watch him f--k her every night? What am I supposed to do?… I can go on the boat, I’ll put the f-----g thing on myself.”

Minutes later, Kerik apparently calls a contact at Giuliani Partners, former mayor Rudy Giuliani’s consulting firm, asking him to find a recording device.

The conversations were recorded because Kerik’s phone was tapped in 2005, as part of an unrelated corruption probe. He ultimately pled guilty.

Here's the latest on the White House's "must-pass" terrorism bills: The Bush-backed legislation to authorize warrantless NSA wiretapping is just about dead -- unless it gets last-minute CPR, say NYTimes, AP.

The detainee treatment bill, a.k.a. the torture "compromise," looks likely to move, however. The Senate has allotted 10 hours of debate for the measure -- seven hours to discuss five separate amendments, and three hours to debate the bill itself. Observers say a vote on the measure is likely to come tomorrow, but you never know: once the sun goes down on Capitol Hilll, anything can happen.

Starting about four weeks ago, Paige Barnes said she started getting "tons of calls a day," sometimes between ten and twenty, from angry West Virginians and Iowans, demanding that her company stop bombarding them with political calls. These people told her that the calls had been coming from "AETR, Inc." at the number (571) 522-6400.

She told them she had nothing to do with them and couldn't understand why her company's name would show up on the caller ID. That wasn't her company's number. When she tried calling that number, the call wouldn't go through. "I got really upset," she said.

She didn't know it, but Barnes was the latest victim of the GOP's newest, biggest attack machine, the innocuously-named Economic Freedom Fund.

Without her knowledge or consent, a "robo calling" firm appears to have used Barnes' company name to make thousands of negative campaign calls for EFF, attacking Democratic congressional candidates. Published reports confirm that EFF calls have gone out under "AETR, Inc." Such caller ID "spoofing," as the practice is known, may violate FCC rules.

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Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) kicked up some dust yesterday morning whe she announced she'd "learned" that there was a National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq "that has been left in draft form" because "some of our leaders don't want us to see it until after the election."

The NIE, it seems, was never a big secret; after Democrats bellowed for one in late July, Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte announced Aug. 4 he'd whip one up.

And there's scant evidence the report exists "in draft form" -- Harman may have an inside track on the matter, but sources tell me the process remains in a nascent stage.

But is the report being slow-walked? That appears to be somewhere between possible and very likely.

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It's starting to look like Rep. Jane Harman's (D-CA) second "secret" Iraq report is one that has been long promised by the Bush administration's top security official.

A quick recap: Amid the ruckus stirred up by reports of a secret report on Iraq and its impact on U.S. counterterrorism efforts, Harman announced yesterday morning that the Bush administration was withholding a second classified report, this one about the state of Iraq.

An ongoing effort to produce a National Intelligence Estimate -- a conclusive report from the entire intelligence community -- on Iraq has been extensively reported. Following an article by Ken Silverstein at in late July about the lack of an up-to-date intel assessment of the country, Democratic lawmakers slipped a provision into a bill that required Negroponte to produce an NIE on Iraq.

On Aug. 4, Negroponte announced he was ordering the report to be produced.

It appears this is the report Harman was talking about. Yesterday evening, White House adviser Fran Townsend acknowledged Harman's request by saying Negroponte had ordered the report in August, implying the two were the same. The report would take several months, she said, and would likely not be ready until January. In a letter today, Harman responded to Townsend's comments to say the timeline was unacceptable.

The entirety of Harman's letter after the jump:

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From last evening's briefing with Homeland Security Advisor Frances Townsend:

Q ... Jane Harman said today at The National Press Club that the administration is deliberately stalling on another intelligence assessment, this one solely about Iraq, because you don't want things -- you don't want it out before the election. I wanted your reaction to that....

MS. TOWNSEND: .... Let me talk for a moment about your question on Jane Harman. Look, I've had the pleasure of working with her on a number of intelligence reform issues. But I will say to you, we should be clear that the DNI agreed to begin preparing an updated NIE on Iraq. If I recall correctly, I believe that was back in August. Obviously, most NIEs are substantial research and writing projects that can take as much as a year. He agreed to try and have this thing done in -- somewhere in -- something, four to six months, or so, because it requires grasping and coordination throughout the intelligence community.

My understanding is the planned release date, given the work that must be done to have it be comprehensive and complete, is January of '07. But I will tell you, that's still quicker than most NIEs get done. The timing has got nothing to do with the election.

More soon. (via ThinkProgress)

From The Washington Post:

Copies of the NIE were sent to the House and Senate intelligence, armed services and foreign affairs committees at the time [late April], through normal electronic information channels available to all members, intelligence and congressional sources said. It arrived at the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on April 26.

In the House, "there was a bit of a snafu with this particular document," said a spokesman for Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.), the intelligence committee chairman. "We had a massive computer failure on our classified side." The first that the committee knew of its existence was late last week, when "it was requested specifically by a member. That was when it was found and scanned into our system."

A bit of a snafu?

Scandals May Hurt GOP Candidates in Ohio "Joy Padgett, the GOP's new congressional candidate in Ohio, has been in a jam when it comes to finding a big-name Republican who could come to town and bring more than trouble.

"Gov. Bob Taft? He was convicted of illegally accepting gifts. GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell? He is getting trounced in the polls. Bob Ney, the current congressman? He admitted taking bribes and then checked himself in for alcohol rehabilitation"....

"A poll released this week by the Columbus Dispatch indicated Democrats could sweep races for U.S. Senate as well as Ohio governor, auditor, treasurer and secretary of state. This would be a remarkable turnaround after 16 years in which Republicans have enjoyed uninterrupted control of the governorship and dominated most statewide races." (WaPo)

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