The Daily Muck

Leaders Face Foley Fallout
“Facing a firestorm of criticism in the unfolding House page scandal surrounding former Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.), House Republican leaders held a tense Members-only conference call Monday evening to attempt to assuage lawmakers’ anger about a controversy that some Republicans fear has put the majority increasingly in peril….

“Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.), the sources said, went so far as to call for scrapping the House page program, which has been in place for more than 150 years. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) also called for the House to hold hearings on the matter, but that suggestion was not widely supported.” (Roll Call, sub. req., NYTimes)After Foley, New Fears For the GOP
“Republican strategists said yesterday that public revulsion over the sexually graphic online conversations between Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) and former House pages could compound the party’s problems enough to tip the House to the Democrats in November — and could jeopardize the party’s hold on the Senate as well.” (WPost)

The Redder They Are, The Harder They Fall
“Sex scandals involving politicians are as old as Thomas Jefferson, but the outcome seems to depend on which party you represent. In recent years, for the most part, Democrats have been able to survive their sordid escapades while Republicans have paid with their political lives.

“The latest example: Mark Foley, a Republican congressman from Florida, who abruptly became an ex-congressman from Florida last week amid revelations that he had sent sexually explicit e-mails to teenage boys who were serving as House pages.” (WPost)

On Capitol Hill, Foley Saga Not News to Some
“Years before sexually explicit electronic messages sent by Rep. Mark Foley to teenage House pages became public last week, some on Capitol Hill say, the Florida Republican was known to have a special interest in younger men. . . .

“Almost the first day I got there I was warned,” said Mark Beck-Heyman, a San Diego native who served as a page in the House of Representatives in the summer of 1995. “It was no secret that Foley had a special interest in male pages,” said Beck-Heyman, adding that Foley, who is now 52, on several occasions asked him out for ice cream.

“Another former congressional staff member said he too had been the object of Foley’s advances. “It was so well known around the House. Pages passed it along from class to class,” said the former aide, adding that when he was 18 a few years ago and working as an intern, Foley approached him at a bar near the Capitol and asked for his e-mail address.” (LATimes)

Foley’s Digital Memory
“It’s unclear whether Representative Mark Foley of Florida, whose furtive Internet chats with an under-age page were disclosed by ABC News, forced the congressman’s quick resignation and threw the G.O.P. into crisis mode just weeks before the midterm elections, knew that his X-rated rhapsodies were being saved – or even that they could be saved. As co-chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, however, he probably should have.” (NYTimes’ The Caucus Blog)

Pelosi Wants GOP Leaders’ Testimony
“House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi [D-CA] has asked for Speaker Dennis Hastert [R-IL] and other top Republicans to be questioned under oath by the ethics committee regarding their handling of the Foley scandal, including what they knew, and when, about a series of July 2005 e-mails from Foley to a 16-year-old former Congressional page and how they responded to the incident….

“‘Republican Leaders admitted to knowing about Mr. Foley’s abhorrent behavior for six months to a year and failed to protect the children in their trust,’ Pelosi said in a statement released by her office. ‘Republican Leaders must be investigated by the Ethics Committee and immediately questioned under oath.'” (Roll Call, sub. req.)

Congressional Pages Can Be Vulnerable
“Before the Internet came along, vodka with cranberry juice and a bet over a six-pack of beer were tools of seduction in the hands of House members with designs on congressional pages.

“The bright high school juniors who come to Washington to be pages are wards of Congress, much like orphans were when the House first hired them to run errands in centuries past.” (AP, LATimes)

Papers Knew of Foley E-mail But Did Not Publish Stories
“At least two news organizations were tipped off to e-mail messages sent by Representative Mark Foley long before the story of his sexually explicit remarks to teenage pages broke last week and forced him to resign.

“The St. Petersburg Times and The Miami Herald received copies of an e-mail exchange between Mr. Foley, Republican of Florida, and a teenager, but neither paper gathered enough solid material to publish a story, according to statements by the papers’ editors.” (NYTimes)

Rumsfeld and Ashcroft Received the Same al-Qaeda Briefing as Rice…
“Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and former Attorney General John Ashcroft received the same CIA briefing about an imminent al-Qaida strike on an American target that was given to the White House two months before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

“The State Department’s disclosure Monday that the pair was briefed within a week after then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice was told about the threat on July 10, 2001, raised new questions about what the Bush administration did in response, and about why so many officials have claimed they never received or don’t remember the warning.

“One official who helped to prepare the briefing, which included a PowerPoint presentation, described it as a ’10 on a scale of 1 to 10′ that ‘connected the dots’ in earlier intelligence reports to present a stark warning that al-Qaida, which had already killed Americans in Yemen, Saudi Arabia and East Africa, was poised to strike again.” (McClatchy Newspapers)

…And So Did Some 9/11 Commission Members
“The independent Sept. 11, 2001, commission was given the same “scary” briefing about an imminent al Qaida attack on a U.S. target that was presented to the White House two months before the attacks, but failed to disclose the warning in its 428-page report.

“Former CIA Director George Tenet presented the briefing to commission member Richard Ben Veniste and executive director Philip Zelikow in secret testimony at CIA headquarters on Jan. 28, 2004, said three former senior agency officials.” (McClatchy Newspapers)

Negroponte: Iraq Terror NIE Misunderstood
“In a rare interview [National Intelligence Director John Negroponte] said the recently revealed National Intelligence Estimate has been mischaracterized.

“‘I think it is important to bear in mind that this is not a net assessment of how we are doing in the war on terror,’ he said.” (VOA)

Endorsements for Jefferson
“Embattled Rep. William Jefferson (D) rolled out a lengthy list of endorsements Monday from local elected officials and community leaders in Hurricane Katrina-ravaged New Orleans….

“‘These endorsements speak to the wide range of support I hold across my district,’ Jefferson said in a statement. ‘This is a coalition of support representing all corners of the district. … The support of these individuals shows their confidence in my ability to deliver in this district.'” (Roll Call, sub. req.)

Bush Uses Terror Votes in Stump Speech
“Bush said in a fund-raising speech that the way the Democrats voted on the legislation last week, it seems the opposition party wants to wait “until we’re attacked again” before responding to threats.

“‘I want you all to remember when you got to the polls here in Nevada, what political party supported the president to make sure we have the tools necessary to protect the American people, and which political party didn’t,’ Bush said.” (Reuters)

Kerik Under Investigation…Again
“New legal problems appear to be looming for Bernard Kerik, the onetime New York City police commissioner and unsuccessful nominee for Homeland Security secretary. Kerik’s lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, confirmed to NEWSWEEK that federal prosecutors are investigating Kerik for an alleged conversation he had with Jeanine Pirro, GOP candidate for New York state attorney general, about bugging a family boat so Pirro could determine whether her husband was having an affair.” (Newsweek)

Ralston, Rove and Abramoff
“The folks around Karl Rove are on the hot seat again. The White House has launched an internal ethics inquiry into one Rove aide in response to new e-mails showing that Rove’s office had far more extensive conduct with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff than previously acknowledged. The e-mails, obtained by a House committee, show that Rove’s executive assistant, Susan Ralston, may have violated a White House ban on accepting gifts worth more than $20 from lobbyists. At the same time, Ralston—who previously worked for Abramoff—was helping the lobbyist and his associates set up meetings with Rove and providing them with inside info about presidential appointments and White House decision making, including at least one matter relating to a business deal in Iraq for an Abramoff client, the e-mails show. Ralston also discussed future business opportunities with Abramoff, such as her plan to help him capitalize on the ‘rush to get lucrative government contracts’ being awarded by the Department of Homeland Security—another possible breach of ethics rules.” (Newsweek)

Challenge to Detainee Bill Filed
“Attorneys for 25 men being held in Afghanistan launched a pre-emptive strike Monday against President Bush’s plan to prosecute and interrogate terror suspects.

“Court documents filed Monday demand that the men be released or charged and allowed to meet with attorneys. Such a filing, known as a habeas corpus petition, is prohibited under the legislation approved by Congress last week.” (AP)

In Some Races, Outside Groups Outspend Candidates
“[New ads attacking Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-OH)] were bankrolled instead by trial lawyers, labor unions and the liberal group In fact, outside groups appear to have spent more in that period than Pryce and [Democratic challenger Mary Joy] Kilroy combined, a pattern that is being duplicated in some of the most competitive campaigns across the country.

“Politically active groups on both the left and the right are shelling out dollars faster than in any previous midterm election and focusing them intensely on the races that are up for grabs. Even with five weeks to go in the campaign, the $34 million in “independent expenditures” so far is nearly double the amount spent in the entire 2002 midterm election, according to” (WaPo)

Dem Poll Shows Pombo’s Challenger in Striking Distance
“The telephone survey of likely voters put Democratic Challenger Jerry McNerney two points ahead of incumbent Republican Rep. Richard Pombo (48% to 46%), with only 6% undecided. Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, a Democratic polling firm that conducted the Sept. 24-26 poll for the [Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund], concluded that Pombo ‘remains unpopular with voters and continues to be in real jeopardy of losing his seat.’…

“Still, California-11 has strong Republican leanings, and the telephone survey of 413 likely voters in the district has an error margin of 4.9 percentage points. Pombo’s fortunes could improve with a fund-raising breakfast Tuesday morning with President Bush, who is making a California swing to help out Pombo and Rep. John Doolittle, another embattled incumbent with ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.” (Washington Wire)