Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for March 13th, 2007

Paper trail for the Purge

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From TPMmuckraker:

See it for yourself, the September 13, 2006 email from Alberto Gonzales’ chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, to Justice Department liaison to White House counsel Harriet Miers.

Fifteen minutes earlier, Sampson had sent the same email to the Justice Department’s liaison to the White House, Monica Goodling, asking “Any corrections?” before sending it over.

In the email, Sampson outlines the “USAs We Now Should Consider Pushing Out.” They were: Arizona’s Paul Charlton, San Diego’s Carol Lam, Western Michigan’s Margaret Chiara, Nevada’s Daniel Bogden, and Seattle’s John McKay. All five were eventually fired. Arkansas’ Bud Cummins had his own heading, “USA in the Process of Being Pushed Out.”

In the summary portion of the email, Griffin lays out his recommendation to use a legal loophole to install replacements without Senate confirmation.

“I am only in favor of executing on a plan to push some USAs out if we really are ready and willing to put in the time necessary to select candidates and get them appointed — It will be counterproductive to DOJ operations if we push USAs out and then don’t have replacements ready to roll immediately. In addition, I strongly recommend that as a matter of administration, we utilize the new statutory provisions that authorize the AG to make USA appointments…. we can give far less deference to home state senators and thereby get 1.) our preferred person appointed and 2.) do it far faster and more efficiently at less political costs to the White House.”

Sampson added, intrigiuingly, that he had “one follow up item I would want to do over the phone.”

Written by Leisureguy

13 March 2007 at 12:45 pm

Alberto speaks

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Though it’s now obvious you can’t trust a word he says.

Written by Leisureguy

13 March 2007 at 12:42 pm

Ugly situation getting worse

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Lies, lies, lies, and more lies:

Now that Alberto Gonzales has admitted that the Justice Department didn’t give accurate information to Congress, it’s worth reviewing what they said. Here’s an example.

In late February, Richard Hertling, the acting Assitant Attorney General, wrote a letter to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in which he claimed that the “Department is not aware of Karl Rove playing any role in the decision to appoint [Karl Rove’s former aide Timothy] Griffin.”

Unfortunately, for the Justice Department, however, in an email outlining the media strategy for defending Griffin’s appointment, Gonzales chief of staff Kyle Sampson wrote that getting Tim Griffin appointed was “important to Harriet, Karl, etc.” You can read the email here.

Update: Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) had a pretty complete rundown of the false statements made by Justice Department officials to Congress and the press. Transcript below…

From this morning’s press conference:

Schumer: Here are some of the falsehoods we’ve been told that are now unraveling.First, we were told that the seven of the eight U.S. attorneys were fired for performance reasons.

It now turns out this was a falsehood, as the glowing performance evaluations attest.

Second, we were told by the attorney general that he would, quote, “never, ever make a change for political reasons.”

It now turns out that this was a falsehood, as all the evidence makes clear that this purge was based purely on politics, to punish prosecutors who were perceived to be too light on Democrats or too tough on Republicans.

Third, we were told by the attorney general that this was just an overblown personnel matter.

It now turns out that far from being a low-level personnel matter, this was a longstanding plan to exact political vendettas or to make political pay-offs.

Fourth, we were told that the White House was not really involved in the plan to fire U.S. attorneys. This, too, turns out to be false.

Harriet Miers was one of the masterminds of this plan, as demonstrated by numerous e-mails made public today. She communicated extensively with Kyle Sampson about the firings of the U.S. attorneys. In fact, she originally wanted to fire and replace the top prosecutors in all 93 districts across the country.

Fifth, we were told that Karl Rove had no involvement in getting his protege appointed U.S. attorney in Arkansas.

In fact, here is a letter from the Department of Justice. Quote: “The department is not aware of Karl Rove playing any role in the decision to appoint Mr. Griffin.”

It now turns out that this was a falsehood, as demonstrated by Mr. Sampson’s own e-mail. Quote: “Getting him, Griffin, appointed was important to Harriet, Karl, et cetera.

Sixth, we were told to change the Patriot Act was an innocent attempt to fix a legal loophole, not a cynical strategy to bypass the Senate’s role in serving as a check and balance.

It was Senator Feinstein who discovered that issue. She’ll talk more about it.

So there has been misleading statement after misleading statement — deliberate misleading statements. And we haven’t gotten to the bottom of this yet, but believe me, we will pursue it.

Written by Leisureguy

13 March 2007 at 12:38 pm

The Purge started earlier than we thought

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ThinkProgress:

In recent weeks, Congress has investigated the Bush administration’s recent purge of qualified, well-respected U.S. attorneys. But one former prosecutor — Frederick A. Black — has received little attention. The administration fired Black shortly after he began investigating Jack Abramoff’s dealings in Guam.

Today in a letter to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, Reps. George Miller (D-CA) and Nick Rahall (D-WV) urge Congress to investigate “the potential political manipulation by Jack Abramoff and his allies in Congress and the Administration” in the Black case:

At the time, we viewed the replacement of the Acting U.S. Attorney as an example of the overly zealous and improper, if not illegal, conduct by the now disgraced and convicted lobbyist, Jack Abramoff.

In light of more recent revelations about political interference with the work of other U.S. Attorneys, however, it is necessary now to re-examine the case as it may represent the beginning of a pattern of behavior by some members of Congress and officials in the Bush Administration to politicize the work of U.S. Attorneys and to quash their independence.

In 2002, Black launched an investigation into Jack Abramoff’s “secret arrangement with Superior Court officials to lobby against a court reform bill then pending in Congress.” On Nov. 18, 2002, Black issued a grand jury subpoena to the Guam Superior Court to turn over all records involving the lobbying contract with Abramoff. The administration swiftly punished Black:

A day later, the chief prosecutor, US Attorney Frederick A. Black, who had launched the investigation, was demoted. A White House news release announced that Bush was replacing Black.

The timing caught some by surprise. Despite his officially temporary status as the acting US attorney, Black had held the assignment for more than a decade.

An internal Justice Department investigation concluded that the White House did not improperly retaliate against Black for raising allegations against Abramoff. But the probe into Abramoff’s activities in Guam died shortly after Black stepped down.

(Full letter from Miller and Rahall HERE.)

Written by Leisureguy

13 March 2007 at 12:33 pm

Alberto Gonzales heading for Medal of Freedom?

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Josh Marshall:

Uh-oh … Bush got Iglesias axed.

From the Times

The White House was deeply involved in the decision late last year to dismiss federal prosecutors, including some who had been criticized by Republican lawmakers, administration officials said Monday.Last October, President Bush spoke with Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to pass along concerns by Republicans that some prosecutors were not aggressively addressing voter fraud, the White House said Monday. Senator Pete V. Domenici, Republican of New Mexico, was among the politicians who complained directly to the president, according to an administration official.

Perhaps as telling, according to the new Times article, Kyle Sampson, Alberto Gonzales’s Chief of Staff and the guy who was actually in charge of drawing up the list … well, he resigned today.

Believe me, his boss won’t long outlast him.

And one other tidbit — Sampson had a partner in assembling the list: then-White House Counsel Harriet Miers.

Late Update: There’s a sub-issue emerging in the canned US Attorneys scandal: the apparently central role of Republican claims of voter fraud and prosecutors unwillingness to bring indictments emerging from such alleged wrongdoing. Very longtime readers of this site will remember that this used to be something of a hobby horse of mine. And it’s not surprising that it is now emerging as a key part of this story. The very short version of this story is that Republicans habitually make claims about voter fraud. But the charges are almost invariably bogus. And in most if not every case the claims are little more than stalking horses for voter suppression efforts. That may sound like a blanket charge. But I’ve reported on and written about this issue at great length. And there’s simply no denying the truth of it. So this becomes a critical backdrop to understanding what happened in some of these cases. Why didn’t the prosecutors pursue indictments when GOP operatives started yakking about voter fraud? Almost certainly because there just wasn’t any evidence for it.

Gonna Be A Long Night Update: The Post also got a piece of the Monday document dump. And their piece is now up too. Many of the key points are the same as what appears in the Times. But key new details are also included. Perhaps the most important of which is this: the Patriot Act provision allowing the Attorney General to appoint US Attorneys by fiat was at the heart of this. The Post quotes an email from the now resigned Sampson in which he tells Miers: “I am only in favor of executing on a plan to push some USAs out if we really are ready and willing to put in the time necessary to select candidates and get them appointed. It will be counterproductive to DOJ operations if we push USAs out and then don’t have replacements ready to roll immediately. I strongly recommend that as a matter of administration, we utilize the new statutory provisions that authorize the AG to make USA appointments. [By sidestepping the confirmation process] we can give far less deference to home state senators and thereby get 1.) our preferred person appointed and 2.) do it far faster and more efficiently at less political costs to the White House.”

And here’s the piece in the Post story which should lead to Sen. Domenici’s departure from the senate …

One e-mail from Miers’s deputy, William Kelley, on the day of the Dec. 7 firings said Domenici’s chief of staff “is happy as a clam” about Iglesias. Sampson wrote in an e-mail a week later: “Domenici is going to send over names tomorrow (not even waiting for Iglesias’s body to cool).”

As has happened so many times in the last six years, the maximal version of this story — which seemed logical six weeks ago but which I couldn’t get myself to believe — turns out to be true. Indeed, it’s worse. We now know that Gonzales, McNulty and Moschella each lied to Congress. We know that the purge was a plan that began at the White House — and it was overseen by two of President Bush’s closest lieutenants in Washington — Miers and Gonzales. Sampson is the second resignation. There will certainly be more.

And remember this key point: The ‘document dump’ is meant to get bad news out of the way fast. But it’s always a hedge. It never includes the really bad stuff. And if you’re not in deep crisis mode, ya’ never do it on a Monday.

And also:

There’s going to be a ton of news today. And we’re going to be on top of all of it. But before the deluge, let me touch again on a point I referenced last night in this lengthy post. The story emerging is that at least some of these US Attorneys were fired because they weren’t aggressive enough in investigating Democratic ‘voter fraud’. Like I said last night, I’ve been reporting on this stuff for years. And this is a horse that shouldn’t even be let out of the gate. It’s become standard operating procedure for Republican operatives to whip up charges of ‘voter fraud’. And some of them even believe it. But the claims are almost universally bogus. And the real intent in most cases is to stymie get out the vote efforts or shut down voter registration drives — mainly, though not exclusively, in minority voting precincts. Here you can see a list of TPM posts from the 2002 and 2004 cycles on bogus ‘voter fraud’ stories, mainly from South Dakota. These are made up stories, the main aim of which is to keep real voters from getting to vote. There’s no mystery why McKay and Iglesias wouldn’t bite: the stories were bogus hash-ups from Republican political operatives and as McKay said this morning, he wasn’t going to “drag innocent people in front of a grand jury.”

Written by Leisureguy

13 March 2007 at 12:27 pm

Baltimore Museum of Art Cafe

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Had a wonderful lunch at the BMA Cafe, just to let the commenter who suggested it know. Half a dozen Chesapeake oysters, a bowl of red crab soup, and a seafood salad with crabettes (small crab cakes), shrimp, sea scallops, and crab, along with an anchovy purloined from The Eldest’s salad. Then, for dessert, a superb confection of chilled cream and crushed meringue served with a praline and topped with whipped cream. Yum. Good thing that calories consumed out of town don’t affect one’s weight.

Written by Leisureguy

13 March 2007 at 10:55 am

Posted in Food

Shave report

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I probably won’t post much about the shaves this week. All will be with the Merkur HD and Swedish Gillette blades, and the brush will be the Simpsons Persian Jar 2 Best Badger. Shaving soap will alternate between QED Mocha-Java shaving stick and QED Vanilla shaving stick: both lather exceptionally well. Alum bar and Taylor of Old Bond Street Bay Rum.

So far: perfect shaves (2). Not a nick or cut, and baby-bottom smooth. Very pleasant.

Written by Leisureguy

13 March 2007 at 10:51 am

Posted in Shaving

Good for the Democrats

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And will the GOP support this effort?

House Democrats hope to breathe new life into open-government legislation, marking Sunshine Week with votes to protect whistle-blowers, smooth freedom of information requests and compel presidential libraries to disclose more about their donors. Efforts to shield reporters from revealing their sources are not faring so well.

The House is to vote on as many as five bills coinciding with this week’s annual campaign by open-government advocates to draw attention to a need for accessibility and accountability in the fight against abuse and waste.

“Open government is a nonpartisan issue,” said Rick Blum, spokesman for the Sunshine in Government Initiative, a coalition of media groups.

But very little is nonpartisan in Washington.

Majority Democrats want to use the five bills to highlight what they say is the Bush administration’s use of executive power and secrecy, according to a memo obtained by The Associated Press and being circulated among lawmakers. They argue that Republicans running Congress during Bush’s first six years conducted almost no oversight as the administration went to war.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

13 March 2007 at 7:19 am

The GOP, always on the take

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Or looking for ways to be on the take:

Written by Leisureguy

13 March 2007 at 7:14 am

Posted in Business, GOP, Government

When a rule is not a rule

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Kevin Drum:

FUN WITH WORDS….From the Washington Post:

The government has new rules for preventing food poisoning in fresh-cut produce, but companies don’t have to follow them.

Question: In what way is something a “rule” if you don’t have to follow it?

Written by Leisureguy

13 March 2007 at 7:04 am

Andrea Mitchell lies again

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Andrea Mitchell has to be one of the most truth-challenged of the many truth-challenged talking heads on TV. You’ll recall her famous statement that “Everyone knew that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA.” She had to back down big time on that—there’s a clip of Don Imus interviewing her, which includes:

Imus: It seems unclear what you said and perhaps you can clear it up about what you said back in Oct. of 2003—

Mitchell: I have been trying to figure out “what-the-heck” I was talking about, frankly. There is confusion because I am confused.

Imus: So when you told Alan Murray of CNBC, that it was widely known that his wife worked for the CIA-(interruption)–what were you drunk?

Mitchell: I don’t even remember the deal…

(later)

Imus: His question seems plain…

Imus: What this suggests to me is that you knew she worked at the CIA, but you didn’t know what she did there. Isn’t that fair-did you know that?

Mitchell-(garbled)

Imus: Why did you say that Andrea?

Mitchell: I messed up…(later)

Imus: Russert was a little short with me—almost like he was trying to hide something….

Imus laughing: I realized-well this is an unfair thing to say, I was gonna say- all you folks in Washington are all in bed with one another, but that would be an awful thing to say….

I can’t agree with you more on that point. Listen to Andrea discuss Booby. She says Bob Woodward is a great journalist who made one “teenie-weenie” mistake. Notice she spews the BW company line that they told him casually about Valerie and says that it wasn’t “something important until it became important.” I agree with Imus, she is drunk.

Andrea: Bob Woodward is a terrific reporter, there is no one like Bob Woodward. He has done extraordinary work—(later) If people make one mistake in the course of a thirty five year career when they have been bullet proof—

Now she’s at it again, and Crooks & Liars has the video. Mitchell says that “most Americans, according to the polls, support a pardon,” whereas in fact only 18% of those polled support a pardon, and 69% oppose a pardon. Of course (this is TV), no one called on her on it, and no correction will be issued. On TV you can lie with impunity.

But still: what is she made of, anyway?

Written by Leisureguy

13 March 2007 at 6:58 am

Posted in GOP, Media

For fans of The Wire

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The Wire is filmed in Baltimore and is about Baltimore. Ed Burns (not that Ed Burns) was a homicide detective and, after retiring, a teacher in Baltimore. David Simon was a Baltimore reporter whose series on the homicide department became the book Homicide. They are two of the writers.

The fifth (and final) season will move into Baltimore schools. (No spoilers.) This will be based in part on Burns’s experience in the schools. From an article in the March 2007 Baltimore’s Child:

Burns’s seven years in front of a chalkboard lend credence and validity to the script, and he calls teaching in the city’s public school system the most powerful experience of his life.

In an HBO interview, however, he has also said about his time in the classroom, “Psychologically, there’s no way to prepare for it. The closest preparation I think I had was when I went to Vietnam in the infantry.”

Like any urban area, Baltimore has its share of fine public schools and its share of struggling schools. Burns was assigned to the latter; in his first year of teaching seventh grade, 13 of his students had been shot and many more had been stabbed. All of them had been abused in one way or another.

“If you want to know about the corner murderers and their victims in Baltimore, don’t asw a copy, ask a teacher,” he wrote in a May 19, 2004, editorial to The Sun.

Written by Leisureguy

13 March 2007 at 6:35 am

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