Editor’s Blog

With everything coming out

With everything coming out today about Karl Rove, it’s worth stopping to bring a few things into focus. It’s been pretty clear since fall of 2003 that Karl Rove did this. It’s been a near certainty since then that if it wasn’t Rove than it was someone in a very similar position. After all, Bob Novak said in his now-notorious column that “senior administration officials” had told him about her.

We don’t know that the president knew about the decision to use Plame’s work at CIA against Wilson in advance, though given the high-level working group assembled at the White House to go to war with Wilson, it’s reasonable to suspect that he did. But at a minimum the president has known about this as long as the rest of us — that is, almost exactly two years.

And he — unlike anyone else in the country — had the power to call Rove into his office and ask him whether he did this or knew who did?

Whether he knew before or after, he’s known for a very long time. And pretty clearly he didn’t want Rove held to any account. Indeed, he’s gone to great lengths to prevent this from happening. And of course few reporters in DC have cared to press this essential point.

No longer operative.From this

No longer operative.

From this morning’s <$NoAd$> gaggle …

Question: Do you want to retract your statement that Rove — Karl Rove was not involved in the Valerie Plame expose? — involved?

McClellan: This is — no, I appreciate the question. This is an ongoing investigation at this point. The President directed the White House to cooperate fully with the investigation, and as part of cooperating fully with the investigation, that means we’re not going to be commenting on it while it is ongoing.

Question: But Rove has apparently commented, through his lawyer, that he was definitely involved.

McClellan: You’re asking me to comment on an ongoing investigation.

Question: I’m saying, why did you stand there and say he was not involved?

McClellan: Again, while there is an ongoing investigation, I’m not going to be commenting on it, nor is —

McClellanN: — any remorse?

McClellan: — nor is the White House, because the President wanted us to cooperate fully with the investigation, and that’s what we’re doing.

Question: That’s not an answer.

Question: It’s not an answer. And you were perfectly willing to comment from that podium while the investigation was going on, and try to clear Karl Rove. Why the double standard? Why were you willing to say Karl Rove was not involved when — and talk at length about it, when the investigation was going on, and now that he’s been caught red-handed, all of a sudden you’ve got a new line?

McClellan: No, I don’t think it is the way you characterize it, as new, because I have said for quite some time that this is an ongoing investigation, and we’re not going to get into discussing it while it’s an ongoing investigation. I’ve really said all I’m going to say on it.

Question: But you did — you did discuss it while it was an ongoing investigation. You stood there and told the American people Karl Rove wasn’t involved.

McClellan: I’ve said all I’m going to say on it. Go ahead, April.

If you’d like to discuss, join us here.

Late Update: This too …

Question: Scott, is the President aware of Karl Rove’s role in leaking information about Joe Wilson’s wife?

Mr. McClellan: Again, this is a Question relating to an ongoing investigation, and you have my response.

Question: Scott, without commenting on the investigation, you said in September of ’03, if anyone in this administration was involved in it, they would no longer be in this administration. Does that standard still hold?

Mr. McClellan: Again, I appreciate all these questions. They are questions relating to an ongoing investigation, and the President directed us to cooperate fully with that investigation. No one wants to get to the bottom of it more than he does and —

Question: — the standard then still apply?

Mr. McClellan: The investigation is ongoing, Peter, and we’re just not going to — we’re not going to —

Question: Did the President set a timetable —

Question: It’s not about the investigation, it’s about the White House decision —

Mr. McClellan: We’re not going to talk about it further from this podium.

More soon …

(ed.note: There’s often a bit of confusion about this. So let me again clarify. The above is not the on-air late-morning early-afternoon press briefing. The ‘gaggle’ is the early morning briefing. It’s on the record. But it’s not televised and the official transcript is not released to the public. I hear today’s early afternoon press briefing was even worse than this above.)

White House clams up

White House clams up on Rove.

Im intrigued by this

I’m intrigued by this passage in the piece on Matt Cooper in today’s Times

Later, Mr. Waldman asked whether Time’s disclosures and a blanket waiver form his source had signed were enough to allow him to testify. In an e-mail message on Tuesday night, Mr. Cooper said he believed the forms could have been coerced and thus worthless.

The only thing that would do, Mr. Cooper wrote, was a “certain, unambiguous waiver” from his source.

Around 7:30 on Wednesday morning, Mr. Cooper had said goodbye to his son, resigned to his fate. His lawyer, Mr. Sauber, called to alert him to a statement from Mr. Luskin in The Wall Street Journal.

“If Matt Cooper is going to jail to protect a source,” Mr. Luskin told The Journal, “it’s not Karl he’s protecting.”

That provided an opening, Mr. Cooper said. “I was not looking for a waiver,” he said, “but on Wednesday morning my lawyer called and said, ‘Look at The Wall Street Journal. I think we should take a shot.’ And I said, ‘Yes, it’s an invitation.’ ”

In court shortly after 2, he told Judge Thomas F. Hogan of the Federal District Court in Washington that he had received “an express personal release from my source.”

That statement surprised Mr. Luskin, Mr. Rove’s lawyer. Mr. Luskin said he had only reaffirmed the blanket waiver, in response to a request from Mr. Fitzgerald.

“Karl was not afraid of what Cooper is going to say and is clearly trying to be fully candid with the prosecutor,” Mr. Luskin said.

Did Luskin blow it for Rove?

If you read the whole article <$Ad$> (which is quite good), it’s clear that Cooper really didn’t want to go to prison over this and was looking for a way out. But he was willing to serve time if he couldn’t find a way to extricate himself that he could square with his understanding of journalistic ethics. Not unreasonably, he thought the blanket waivers of confidentiality that Rove had signed at the request of Patrick Fitzgerald were meaningless because they were coerced.

That sounds right to me since a member of the White House staff probably wouldn’t be free to refuse such a request — particularly since he might legitimately fear that such a refusal would find a way to make itself public.

But as the article makes clear, there really was no sudden personal communication from Rove, at least not as I understood it to have occurred in the initial reports.

What seems to have happened is that Luskin availed himself of the opportunity to talk tough and categorically to the Journal at his client’s apparent expense. The key of course is the second to last graf that I’ve excerpted, in which the Times author says Luskin was ‘surprised’ at what Cooper and his attorney read into his statement to the Journal. He had meant it only as a blanket restatement of their position to date.

Presumably, once Cooper and his attorney took this interpretation with the judge, there was no turning back for Luskin. What could he say?

I’m curious whether others read the article this way too. Share your thoughts with us here over at this thread at our politics discussion table.

Hmmm. Maybe some of

Hmmm. Maybe some of you DOJ folks or people with long memories can help me out here. Rove attorney Robert Luskin’s bio at Patton Boggs says (emphasis added)

Mr. Luskin has extensive experience defending cases involving allegations of official corruption. Formerly Special Counsel to the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section of the U.S. Department of Justice, Mr. Luskin helped to supervise the ABSCAM investigation, and thereafter represented the Justice Department in hearings before Congress concerning the investigation.

I remember reading that late last <$Ad$> night and being impressed. As Wikipedia explains here, the ABSCAM investigation began in 1978 and the story broke out into the press in February 1980.

But as TPM Reader JS points out, Luskin’s bio page says he graduated from Harvard Law in 1979 — in other words, June 1979.

Is something amiss here?

Remember ABSCAM was a series of FBI sting operations targeting sitting members of Congress — a touchy and quite delicate proposition.

Was Luskin such a comer that they let him supervise the investigation while he was still in law school? Or did they put him in charge as his first assignment at DOJ?

Presumably some aspects of the investigation continued on through 1980 and 1981. Appeals were still happening in 1982.

But still …

(ed.note: We’re discussing Rove and Luskin over here at the TPMCafe politics discussion table.)

Late Update: And there’s more: This from Luskin’s Martindale-Hubbell bio. “Law Clerk to Judge Louis F. Oberdorfer, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, 1979-1980. Special Counsel, Organized Crime and Racketeering Section, U.S. Department of Justice, 1980-1982.” So presumably he went to DOJ in late 1980, after most of the ABSCAM indictments were already going to trial. (The convictions all came in in 1981.) And to think they let him take over the investigation on day one …

Now that its clear

Now that it’s clear that Karl Rove’s defense amounts to some sort of cover-blowing ‘I didn’t inhale’ defense, I thought I’d check in a bit on what his lawyer’s deal is. Reason being, as near as I can tell, Rove attorney Robert D. Luskin has made a series of, shall we say, contradictory statements over the last week or so, each necessitated by further revelations about his client’s conduct.

So I was curious: Is Robert D. Luskin the sort of lawyer who never gets caught in a fib or a misstatement on his client’s behalf? Or is he a bit more fast and loose?

Well, it turns out that Luskin is a rather colorful figure with not a bad sense of humor. In 1999, when the Legal Times asked him why he was shutting down his boutique litigation firm, he quipped: “To paraphrase Hobbes: The life of a boutique is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

One case that jumps out at you is his representation of Stephen A. Saccoccia.

Saccoccia and his wife Donna were eventually convicted of laundering more than a hundred million dollars for various Colombian drug kingpins. Stephen is currently serving a 660 year sentence. Their racket was laundering drug money through companies which traded in precious metals.

Saccoccia was convicted in 1993. And Luskin took up his case on appeal.

Eventually the Feds got the idea that the money Saccoccia had paid Luskin and his other attorneys for their services was itself part of the $137 million in drug money he was ordered to forfeit. Now, on the face of it this seems a bit unfair since under our system everyone is entitled to good representation and how was Luskin to know it was tainted money.

Well, the prosecutors thought he should have gotten some inkling when Saccoccia started paying Luskin’s attorney’s fees in gold bars.

Yep, you heard that right. Luskin got paid more than $500,000 of his attorney’s fees in gold bars from his client who was trying to appeal his conviction on charges that he laundered drug money through precious metals dealers. Who woulda thought that was drug money?

Luskin insisted that he “never have, and never would, knowingly accept a fee that was the proceeds of illegal activities.”

But when federal prosecutors finally got a chance to depose Luskin and Saccoccia’s other lawyers, they found that their lawyers’ fees had come in forms “such as gold bars, cash that was dropped off at hotels and trunks of cars, and money transfers from Swiss bank accounts.”

Eventually, in 1998, Luskin came to a settlement with the government in which he agreed to cough up $245,000 of the money he’d gotten from Saccoccia.

(ed.note: At first I couldn’t believe that Saccoccia’s Robert Luskin was the same guy Rove had defending him. The Saccoccia articles refer to Luskin as a partner in a firm called Comey Boyd & Luskin. But Luskin’s bio page at Patton Boggs, where reporters working the Rove story confirm that Rove’s lawyer works, makes no mention of such a firm. But a snippet in the December 20-27, 1999 Legal Times seems to settle the matter: “The D.C. litigation boutique of Comey, Boyd & Luskin is history. Name partner Robert Luskin is leaving the firm to join Patton Boggs Jan. 1.”)

Late Update: Also on Luskin, look at this piece today in the Times by Adam Liptak, and see if Luskin didn’t screw up and get his client in a lot of trouble by shooting off his mouth to the Journal.

Later Update: If you’d like to share your views on this, we’re discussing Rove and Luskin over here at the TPMCafe politics discussion table.

Till the missions accomplished

Till the mission’s accomplished or the 2006 mid-terms, whichever comes first. Yet another leaked British memo says the administration is making plans for a major troop withdrawal starting early next year.

So weve got Karl

So we’ve got Karl Rove’s latest story, as recounted by his lawyer, Robert Luskin.

Rove did spill the beans about Plame in an effort to discredit Joe Wilson. Only he didn’t mention the name ‘Valerie Plame’. He only spilled the beans about ‘Joe Wilson’s wife’.

I’m no lawyer. But I’d hate to go into court with my case resting on that distinction.

And remember, the president has certainly known all of this from the beginning.

I know that many

I know that many of you have had a <$NoAd$> more and more difficult time keeping track of Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham’s various shenanigans, sweetheart deals, pay-offs and boat transactions. So TPM Media has put together a new Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R) Shenanigan Program & Worksheet (RRDCSPW). We’re entitled v. 1.0 because more bad acts will almost certainly surface which will necessitate further revisions.

On top of that, in classic TPM fashion, we’re holding a contest to see who can fill out the worksheet best in terms of explicating all the dimensions of Duke’s skullduggery.

Above you’ll see the first edition of our RRDCSPW. If you click on the image you can download the printable pdf file. As you can see, the worksheet has Duke along with each fat-cat and/or crony graphically represented along with the respective house and/or boat.

Now, in the second image, you’ll see that the proprietor of this little operation has somewhat clumsily tried to fill out the worksheet noting who paid for which boat and which house and how the different shenanigans interlock with each other. But clearly if the sheet is going to be filled out in a way that other TPM Readers and journalists can readily understand it, it’s going to have to be done a lot better.

And that’s where our contest comes in. If you’d like to enter the contest and have the chance of winning not only the soon-to-be-released TPMCafe t-shirt but also the new TPMCafe mug, download the worksheet. Then fill it out in a way that gets as much information on the page while also making it as clear and as easy to understand as possible.

Entries will be judged on the basis of content, aesthetic excellence and general mockery and schadenfreude. Entries should be returned in a scanned image or pdf format and will be accepted through the 15th. Winners will be announced at TPMCafe.

Now that we know

Now that we know that Karl Rove was involved in leaking Valerie Plame’s identity and her role at CIA before the information had appeared in Robert Novak’s column, attention will now inevitably turn to whether Rove (and whoever else was leaking) knew Plame was covert.

If they can plausibly claim that they thought she was simply a paper-pusher, then the statute would not apply to them.

But I think any enterprising reporter will be able to see why this is almost certainly not true. A close look at the wording Novak used in his column and a careful review of previous Novak columns over the years shows he only ever uses the word ‘operative’ to refer to covert agents. And that’s the word he used to refer to Plame.

So Novak knew she was covert. And that pretty clearly means his sources knew too. How else would he have found out?

Perhaps someone can help

Perhaps someone can help me.

Can someone send me the link to the first story in CNN, MSNBC, NYT, WaPo or any other major news outlet which picks up Mike Isikoff’s Newsweek story placing Karl Rove at the center of the Plame leak?

Thanks. ‘ppreciate it.

David Corn Tonight I

David Corn: “[T]onight I received this as-solid-as-it-gets tip: on Sunday Newsweek is posting a story that nails Rove. The newsmagazine has obtained documentary evidence that Rove was indeed a key source for Time magazine’s Matt Cooper and that Rove–prior to the publication of the Bob Novak column that first publicly disclosed Valerie Wilson/Plame as a CIA official–told Cooper that former Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s wife apparently worked at the CIA and was involved in Joseph Wilson’s now-controversial trip to Niger.”

See more here.

When last we updated

When last we updated the Duke Cunningham ‘Livin’ Large Free of Charge’ chronicles (DCLLFCC) you’ll remember that Duke was trying to offer advice on getting a presidential pardon to one Thomas Kontogiannis, a Long Island real estate developer who’d recently been convicted in a bribery, kickback and contract-rigging scandal and who’d apparently, as part of that scam, arranged pay-offs totaling roughly a million dollars to Queens school superintendent Celestine Miller, including some $80,000 into the coffers of her failed congressional bid in 1998.

Around the time Duke was offering the advice he managed to sell his boat, the Kelly C, to Kontogiannis for what was apparently a vastly inflated price, bagging Duke a quick $400,000 profit. And somehow as part of this deal (we still haven’t figured out quite the ins and outs of it) the Kontogiannis family mortgage lending company agreed to fund a series of discount loans that Duke used to buy his new house in Rancho Sante Fe.

But it seems that wasn’t the only mortgage Duke got from Coastal Capital, the Kontogiannis family’s mortgage company. According to this Friday evening AP report, they also set Duke up with another mortgage — this one for $150,000 — for a two-bedroom condo he bought in Arlington, Virginia. (And all this time you thought Duke lived on a boat!) The total purchase price was $350,000 and he resold it in 2004 for $500,000.

But even this isn’t all.

Following up on a tip, I did a little poking around myself. And I take it that the condominium sale in question must be that referenced in the April 18th, 2002 real estate section of the Washington Post: “EADS ST. S., 1211, No. 2002-Ratta Joseph M. Della to Nancy D. and Randall H. Cunningham, $ 350,000.”

Now, it seems that Joseph M. Della Ratta may be another real estate developer trying to settle some misunderstandings with government prosecutors.

According to this August 2003 Department of Labor bulletin, Della Ratta and a colleague got nailed for raiding an ERISA asset management plan of which they served as trustees. In July 2003, says the bulletin, a federal court “appointed an independent fiduciary to distribute all remaining plan assets of the profit sharing plans of Della Ratta, Inc. and Commercial Management Company in Silver Spring, Maryland. The court further ordered restoration of more than $166,000 to the plans from assets held in a Della Ratta, Inc. corporate account and restitution to be paid by the plans’ trustees.”

Said Labor Secretary Elaine Chao of the case: “Corporations and executives who are designated retirement plan fiduciaries have a responsibility to protect the pension assets of its participants. These defendants used the plan assets for their personal gain. The department’s action recovers pension assets taken illegally from the workers and their families.”

Della Ratta and his colleague Joseph E. Brimmer were ordered to pay back the money, removed as trustees of the plan in question and barred from ever again overseeing any other plans governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

The original government suit against Della Ratta was filed in December 2000 — about a year and a half before Duke bought the condo. And the final resolution of the case came a little more than a year after that. This was of course while the home and boat switcheroos were also afoot.

In response to the

In response to the question immediately below, a lot of commenters are suggesting the quite logical explanation that Novak’s not in trouble because he cooperated and spilled the beans. But if that’s true, why didn’t that allow Fitzgerald to wrap the whole thing up right then and there? Would he really have allowed Novak off the hook for anything else beside telling him who his sources were, what they said, etc?

Perhaps Novak tried to pass off on <$Ad$>him the convenient lie that the persons in question didn’t know or didn’t tell him that Plame was covert. But some careful research we did almost two years ago on this point should pretty clearly I think that Novak has been fibbing through his teeth when he says this.

So, like I said, if Novak did cooperate and if that didn’t provide enough for Fitzgerald to make some indictments or wrap the whole thing up, that in itself points to some more complex situation than most are considering.

Like I said, we’re discussing the question here.

For months people have

For months people have asked me this question: Why is everyone else in trouble over the Plame story but Robert Novak?

Earlier in the progress of the case, I thought I had two good answers. One, prosecutors usually work from the outside of a case in. Thus, it make sense that they’d get to secondary players like Cooper and Miller first. Second, precisely because of his immediate involvement in what happened, I suspected that Novak might be able to invoke the 5th amendment and not testify. Ironically, under this theory, that would put Cooper et al. in more jeopardy precisely because they’re not accused of playing a role in the commission of a crime. And thus they’ve got no plausible 5th amendment claim to hide behind.

Now, clearly, if it ever was, we’re way too far into this for my first answer to be correct. And I’m no longer sure my second one is either.

So why is it exactly that Novak is sitting pretty?

We’re discussing it over at the TPMCafe politics discussion table.

Ed Kilgore and I

Ed Kilgore and I are discussing the politics of the seemingly impending Rehnquist retirement over at TPMCafe. Ed seems to be thinking along the same lines I was yesterday evening — that if President Bush must get to choose Rehnquist’s successor, let it be now. Far better politically for the Democrats, far better shot at a better (or at least, a less bad) conclusion.

Can this be true

Can this be true? Says Judd Legum at ThinkProgress: “For the fourth straight time since his lawyer admitted that Rove was one of Matt Cooper’s sources, no member of the White House press corps asked a question about Rove’s role.”

Duke-Kontogiannis grudge match plays

Duke-Kontogiannis grudge match plays out!

The North County Times has obtained Coast Guard documents which show that in May Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham signed two registration documents attesting that he was the owner of the Kelly C when in fact it was owned by New York real estate developer Thomas Kontogiannis who paid Duke $627,000 not long after he was convicted of price-rigging and bribery back in New York.

After signing the first document he sent a follow-up letter to the Coast Guard in which he wrote: “I am the sole owner of the ‘Kelly C.'”

When asked, Duke’s lawyer K. Lee Blalack told the paper: “These documents are entirely consistent with your previous reports regarding Duke’s attempt to register the Kelly C in his name in anticipation of its resale from Mr. Kontogiannis.” So, I guess Blalack is saying the documents confirm the paper’s early claim that Duke made false statement on official government documents?

Meanwhile, a San Diego yacht salesman says of the sale price: “It might be worth a couple hundred thousand, maybe —– but probably not … I would say that what he sold it for is a gross overestimate of value.”

Then there’s this: “Kontogiannis said that the bill of sale he received from Cunningham is for $1 plus other valuables. When asked why they agreed to put the sale price so low, when in fact the amount he said he paid Cunningham was $627,000, Kontogiannis said that using a symbolic price of $1 is common in such transactions.”

I’ve never bought or sold a boat. But is that common?

My first thought when

“My first thought when I heard – just on a personal basis, when I heard there had been this attack [i.e., yesterday’s terrorist attack in London] and I saw the futures this morning, which were really in the tank, I thought, ‘Hmmm, time to buy.'”

Name me the major network news anchor who could survive having made such a comment as his first reaction to a major terrorist attack.

That is, one beside Brit Hume, who said it.

David Sirota has more.

Duke Shaken Stirred Or

Duke Shaken? Stirred? Or just poured down the drain?

Option number three, says George E. Condon Jr. of Copley News Service.

And this one’s lousy with quotes to sate your DukenSchadenfreude.

Charlie Cook: “I don’t think Cunningham could be elected in that district anymore. You can make the case that almost any other Republican could, but not Cunningham.”

Stu Rothenberg: “People are waiting to see when he gets out — not if he gets out, but when he gets out.”

GOP Consultant/Lobbyist John M. Dadian: “He’s dead.”

Meanwhile, Molly Ivins also gives Duke a stir.

Perhaps Im not thinking

Perhaps I’m not thinking this through clearly enough. So I’d be obliged to hear from others. But assuming that the rumors are true and that Chief Justice Rehnquist will announce his retirement tomorrow, this seems like a good thing for the Dems, not a bad thing.

Obviously that reasoning is premised on the assumption that Rehnquist will retire at some point in the very near future regardless, certainly before the end of the president’s tenure in office and in all likelihood before November 2006. So as long as President Bush will appoint Rehnquist’s successor, better, it seems to me, that both nominations take place simultaneously.

Here’s my reasoning.

To the extent that there was a logic to kicking the filibuster can down the road until a Supreme Court nomination came up, it was that Democrats would only stand to gain by more public attention, both to the extremism of a potential nominee and the rule-breaking of banning the filibuster using an obviously-phoney constitutional pretext. I think that’s a decent theory of the situation. And for better or worse, it’s the one they went with. So they might as well play it out.

Secondly, this battle will be played out as much in the nation’s newspaper editorial board rooms and among the glitz commentators as anywhere else. The best argument that the Dems can make is that President Bush is in a loose sense trying to pack the Court, trying to push the Court decisively to the right by appointing an activist and an ideologue. It seems to me that that argument is much stronger if he’s appointing two of nine than one of nine.

Perhaps another way to put this is that I think it would be much easier for President Bush to push through one hard-right nominee now and another next spring or next summer than it will be for him to push twice at once.

That’s my initial take. Tell me what you think. I’ve set up a discussion thread here at TPMCafe.

You may well have

You may well have read it already. But if not I want to call your attention to the statement today of Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London. It ripples with all the unadorned democratic resolution and humanity the moment calls for, with none of the puffery and obfuscation and lies that will drag us all, eventually, into the pit. It has a particular potency and force in this moment of manufactured division since Livingstone comes from the most leftward part of the British party political spectrum.

It’s lengthy. But I think it’s worth reprinting in its entirety …

“This was a cowardly attack, which has resulted in injury and loss of life. Our thoughts are with everyone who has been injured, or lost loved ones. I want to thank the emergency services for the way they have responded.

Following the al-Qaeda attacks on September 11 in America we conducted a series of exercises in London in order to be prepared for just such an attack. One of the exercises undertaken by the government, my office and the emergency and security services was based on the possibility of multiple explosions on the transport system during the Friday rush hour. The plan that came out of that exercise is being executed today, with remarkable efficiency and courage, and I praise those staff who are involved.

I’d like to thank Londoners for the calm way in which they have responded to this cowardly attack and echo the advice of the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair – do everything possible to assist the police and take the advice of the police about getting home today.

I have no doubt whatsoever that this is a terrorist attack. We did hope in the first few minutes after hearing about the events on the Underground that it might simply be a maintenance tragedy. That was not the case. I have been able to stay in touch through the very excellent communications that were established for the eventuality that I might be out of the city at the time of a terrorist attack and they have worked with remarkable effectiveness. I will be in continual contact until I am back in London.

I want to say one thing specifically to the world today. This was not a terrorist attack against the mighty and the powerful. It was not aimed at Presidents or Prime Ministers. It was aimed at ordinary, working-class Londoners, black and white, Muslim and Christian, Hindu and Jew, young and old. It was an indiscriminate attempt to slaughter, irrespective of any considerations for age, for class, for religion, or whatever.

That isn’t an ideology, it isn’t even a perverted faith – it is just an indiscriminate attempt at mass murder and we know what the objective is. They seek to divide Londoners. They seek to turn Londoners against each other. I said yesterday to the International Olympic Committee, that the city of London is the greatest in the world, because everybody lives side by side in harmony. Londoners will not be divided by this cowardly attack. They will stand together in solidarity alongside those who have been injured and those who have been bereaved and that is why I’m proud to be the mayor of that city.

Finally, I wish to speak directly to those who came to London today to take life.

I know that you personally do not fear giving up your own life in order to take others – that is why you are so dangerous. But I know you fear that you may fail in your long-term objective to destroy our free society and I can show you why you will fail.

In the days that follow look at our airports, look at our sea ports and look at our railway stations and, even after your cowardly attack, you will see that people from the rest of Britain, people from around the world will arrive in London to become Londoners and to fulfil their dreams and achieve their potential.

They choose to come to London, as so many have come before because they come to be free, they come to live the life they choose, they come to be able to be themselves. They flee you because you tell them how they should live. They don’t want that and nothing you do, however many of us you kill, will stop that flight to our city where freedom is strong and where people can live in harmony with one another. Whatever you do, however many you kill, you will fail.”

More <$NoAd$> soon.

A Few Thoughts on

A Few Thoughts on a Terrible Day

First a thought, or perhaps an affirmation. The only response to acts of indiscriminate murder such as those today in London is implacable resistance — and such resistance means not only retaliation against those responsible and guarding against all possible similar acts, but implacable resistance to terrorists’ desire and aim to disrupt the rhythm of our daily lives and our civilization itself.

Today we’ve had a reminder of what we face. But let’s be clear what we’re seeing. In more venues than I’d care to admit I’ve seen posts and speechifying which say, in so many words: ‘For all those who’ve gone wobbly on Iraq, see, you got complacent! But terrorism is real!’

The real threat we face isn’t in Iraq. And being in Iraq isn’t diminishing it. The real threat is painfully low-tech but yet highly-lethal acts of terror committed — in most cases — in the great metropoles of the West. And I suspect we’ll find, as we did in 9/11, that the immediate perpetrators were neither people who were minding their own business before we invaded Iraq nor even people who have their main base in the core countries of the Arab Middle East, but rather recruits from the disaffected and deracinated diaspora of Muslim immigrants in the West — a tiny fraction out of the millions who are making their homes in our country and in those of Europe.

Certainly, it’s no accident that the two acts of terror in Europe in the last three years happened in America’s two main Iraq war allies, though I agree with Ed Kilgore’s point that the proximate message here is to the G8. That notwithstanding, what I take from all this is the fundamental irrelevance of Iraq to what happened today.

The threat of terrorism is very real, especially in major cities. But with respect to the folks who want to lasso this into a pillar of support for a disastrous policy in Iraq, frankly, we already knew terrorism was real. Most people are sick to death of our bumbling in Iraq because it’s distracted us from actually defending ourselves.

The immediate answer to this is to hunt down the people immediately responsible, root out the primarily-non-state terror networks that support, plan and make these attacks possible and start getting about serious homeland defense — port security, rail security, nuclear power plant security.

On that last count, what we’ve accomplished in the US over the last few years has been painfully inadequate, largely because of our focus on nation-states that have only a tenuous connection to this threat — a lot of lies, mumbojumbo, and scurrilous and dark motives by the usual suspects notwithstanding.

Finally, I think we should look very closely at what actually happened today. It took a lot of coordination and it took a lot of lives. But it was extremely low-tech. It didn’t take mad scientists or proliferated technology. And in a way that makes it all the harder to prevent.

Beside the threat we face from the bacillus of Islamic terror, President Bush has created a great running wound on the whole country in the form of the mess he’s created in Iraq — a wound bleeding blood, treasure and a scourge of national division which is now impossible to ignore but which we can ill-afford. Even now his cheerleaders are trying to enlist this outrage in the battle to prop up their folly in Iraq. If anything our folly in Iraq has made the immediacy and intensity of this basic threat worse. But let’s not be blinded by our outrage at that folly or distracted from thinking concretely, together and resolutely, how we defend our innocents from such religious fanaticism and the violence it spawns.

(ed.note: It’s not normally policy. But since the problems with the site mentioned below have kept me from posting until now, I’ve cross-posted this entry to TPMCafe as well.)

This is just a

This is just a brief update on why — among other things — there are no posts on TPM this morning, particularly on the coordinated terror attacks today in London.

As you might have expected, the news out of London generated a wave of traffic to this and other sites. And that surge was particularly large at our sister site, TPMCafe. The site’s been hard to access since roughly 10 AM this morning. And I’ve been busy since then working with our tech folks to deal with that — thus the lack of posts here.

We’re adding more server capacity over at TPMCafe. And we’ll keep you posted on developments there.

More soon.

Remember this isnt the

Remember, this isn’t the first time Patrick Fitzgerald has tangled with Judy Miller in a leaks investigation of the Bush White House. I’ve posted more details at TPMCafe.

A special grand jury

“A special grand jury indicted three of [Kentucky] Gov. Ernie Fletcher’s subordinates Wednesday, including his deputy chief of staff, on various misdemeanor charges, including criminal conspiracy and political discrimination.”

More here.

As Ive noted a

As I’ve noted a few times now I’m not convinced — though none of us have enough information — that Judy Miller is in prison right now because of things she did as a journalist, properly speaking. In various chapters of the war and intelligence drama we’ve all witnessed over the last four years, Miller has been an actor as much as a journalist, often acting in close coordination with the folks who figure as prime suspects in this caper.

That said, there is a line of thinking that’s become fairly widespread among the president’s critics and many Democrats that says that journalistic privilege is meant to protect whistleblowers and sources exposing wrong-doing not sources who are the wrongdoers themselves.

There’s a certain moral economy to this reasoning. But in practice, in the real world journalists operate in, that reasoning just doesn’t hold water. It’s a specious reasoning that allows people to have their civil libertarian cake and eat it too.

(I’ll try to elaborate on why I think this in a subsequent post.)

Finally, in such a swirl of ethical and political uncertainty, perhaps we can take some heart from the editorialists at the Washington Post. They seem fairly clear that there’s little chance that a crime was committed, and that whatever may have happened wasn’t such a big deal in the first place.

Good to know they’ve got this one squared away.

A TPM Reader informs

A TPM Reader informs me that Tucker Carlson, and apparently other scofflaw Republicans, are out there again making the claims that Valerie Plame wasn’t a covert agent at CIA after all and that, apparently, there’s no crime at the bottom of the whole thing.

I’m hoping maybe I can speak to Tucker or maybe that he’ll go directly to Langley and also to speak to Mr. Fitzgerald because he seems to know stuff no one else is aware of, perhaps vouchsafed to him through a special revelation.

As we noted almost two years ago, the statute that started this whole gangling cavalcade in motion only applies to covert agents. The Justice Department investigation began in response to a CIA ‘referral’. Presumably the people at the CIA know Plame’s status. Such a referral is made when the referring agency believes that a crime may have been committed that the Justice Department should investigate. If she wasn’t covert, a crime could not have been committed. And yet they sent the referral because they think a crime may well have been committed. Ergo, the CIA must believe she is covert. Carlson says, no. But that’s their story and they’re stickin’ to it.

Perhaps she wasn’t covert enough for Carlson. But I’ll leave that to Carlson, Angleton, Donovan and whatever other worthies he regularly communes with.

As for Fitzgerald and the current investigation, he seems out of the Carlson loop too.

As we noted a few days ago, DOJ guidelines are pretty clear on just how and when prosecutors should even try to compel testimony from journalists, let alone try to throw them in jail. It’s not to be done for idle curiosity or to tie up loose ends, but only when the prosecutor believes he’s zeroing in on a crime. And even then they’re not supposed to do it unless all other alternatives have been exhausted. So unless Fitzgerald’s not following the procedures he should be, it seems Fitzgerald is pretty confident there is a significant crime at the bottom of all this.

In sum, Carlson seems like the only fellow in Washington who’s really got the goods on this whole case. If he could just lay it out for us, maybe Cooper, Miller, Fitzgerald and all those good souls at the White House could finally put this regrettable saga behind them.

Ahhh the intricacies of

Ahhh, the intricacies of Aqua-Duke. This from Roll Call ..<$NoAd$>.

Sure, now it’s called the “Duke-Stir.” But the 42-foot Carver boat — yeah, the one that was raided by federal agents on Friday, a fact first reported by Roll Call — had a different name when Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-Calif.) became its unofficial helmsman. The yacht used to be called “Bouy Toy,” so named by its former owners, a gay couple, according to sources at the Capitol Yacht Club.

Apparently, the fellas down at the marina kind of razzed ol’ Duke, a former “top gun” fighter pilot, about the gay-themed name. And apparently, Cunningham couldn’t take it. He changed the boat’s name from the sweet-and-saucy Bouy Toy to the mucho macho Duke-Stir in December 2004, according to Coast Guard records.

Aqua-Duke …

So Matt Cooper agrees

So Matt Cooper agrees to testify

I’ll be curious to see what turn of events led to this or whether it was just the approaching prospect of a long stint in prison. In Cooper’s case I’ll give a strong benefit of the doubt till I hear otherwise, since he’s one of the few people who’s held his head high through this whole sordid and long-drawn-out affair.

Of equal interest to me is Judith Miller.

As we suggested a few days ago, it’s not clear to me that Miller is in this jam for the same reasons as Cooper is.

And in the Post this morning comes this hint: “Fitzgerald may learn more details from Cooper’s notes. Sources close to the investigation say there is evidence in some instances that some reporters may have told government officials — not the other way around — that Wilson was married to Plame, a CIA employee.”

Go figure …

Like to discuss and share your thoughts? We’ve opened a special discussion thread on this breaking news at TPMCafe.