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March 26, 2007

Comments

Good points here, you remind me of the discussion about whether the Republicans are a revolutionary power. I think they are and that way more Republicans still support everything this administration has done than will still admit it.

You all probably read TPM anyways

I used to, but stopped when Josh started putting up adverts that crashed my browser on a regular basis (and, even after several people had complained to him about it, claimed that this wasn't happening). I recognize the information is useful, but prefer to read it quoted on other sites.

Good article, anyway: and fell nicely into place with a sleepy argument I was having with Rilkefan last night. (I was sleepy. Rilkefan appeared to be wide awake.)

I object to many of the things my government does, or the things it announces it plans to do. But I expect my government to do these things via a process of law - part of my problem with any British government that has a massive majority in the House of Commons, is that it is virtually rebellion-proof: a hundred-seat-plus majority means if the government wants to pass a law, it will get passed.

To use a concrete example: there have been instances - more instances, recently - where US law enforcement demanded the extradition of a British citizen, but was unable to present evidence satisfying a British court that they had grounds for extradition. The response of the Blair government to US objections to this, was to pass a Act that - among other things - makes it legal for the US* to extradite a British citizen on accusation/evidence of identity alone. I find it horrifying and shameful that we have such a law on the books: but it would be worse by a huge jump if Blair had simply overridden a court's decision and handed a prisoner over to the US as the government of Bosnia did a while ago.

Or the case of Brian Haw, who set up camp outside the House of Commons on 2nd June 2001 to protest the government's policy on Iraq, and is still there. He is one of the few people in history who can claim to have had an Act of Parliament written with him in mind: the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 states that anyone wanting to demonstrate inside a zone in central London that includes Westminster, must seek permission from the police, even if the demonstration takes place in a public place (as Brian Haw's demo does) where people are ordinarily allowed to make political protests without let or hindrance. The law was passed, but it can't stop Brian Haw's demo continuing, because Haw's demonstration was taking place before the law was passed, and so long as he chooses to continue it, a post-facto law can't touch him. (I object to the law itself, which appears to have been written and passed in the belief that MPs shouldn't have to be publicly embarrassed by the electorate - but it was passed legally, is not being enforced illegally, and can be protested or overturned by the usual channels: the limits are still respected.)

*Very specifically, the US. Part of our "special relationship", you see. It was proposed that the US should pass a parallel law and this was blandly turned down on the grounds that such a demand would violate the inalienable rights of US citizens. Yes, I'm bitter.

They know no limits at all.

hmm.... they have one clear limit: is it legal?

but, they're using an interpretation of 'legal' that's a bit different, a bit more weighted towards the executive, than most other people. everything they do, they claim is legal. everybody else, after the initial WTF wears off, is left to say "wait, you mean you're interpreting the law that way? that's crazy!" but things rarely get past that.

i hope the Dems start pushing back on these radical interpretations.

Being from Washington State and recalling the 2004 gubernatorial election, I am not sure why the expectation that there would be an investigation into the voter rights in that state is held as an example of unreasonable expectations. It was very frustrating to have piles of votes found in closets and under coffee tables every other day in an election decided by 100 or so votes. This article comports fairly well with my memory:
http://www.opinionjournal.com/diary/?id=110006543

There was a lawsuit regarding the felon vote, I think, in State Court, but I don't recall any serious investigation of King County (where I live) to see about voting rights infringement there.

Hmm... bogus if it was Democrats. Probably true if it was Republicans. Easy to see how one can reach the basic conclusion here if you start with that assumption.

For the most part, during my lifetime, political arguments have operated within certain basic limits that everyone took for granted.

Sadly, something you stopped practicing quite some time ago. I guess if you can't beat them you have to joing them, right? Sounds like a good excuse to me.

Well atleast you aren't so distracted by the culture of corruption in Congress anymore and can still manage to focus on Bush's 8 versus Clinton's.. what 96?

More shenanigans from Congress. Now they are out right trying to make sure no one can see how corrupt they are...

Democrats promised reform and instituted "a moratorium" on all earmarks until the system was cleaned up. Now the appropriations committees are privately accepting pork-barrel requests again. But curiously, the scorekeeper on earmarks, the Library of Congress's Congressional Research Service (CRS)--a publicly funded, nonpartisan federal agency--has suddenly announced it will no longer respond to requests from members of Congress on the size, number or background of earmarks. "They claim it'll be transparent, but they're taking away the very data that lets us know what's really happening," says Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn. "I'm convinced the appropriations committees are flexing their muscles with CRS."

Indeed, the shift in CRS policy represents a dramatic break with its 12-year practice of supplying members with earmark data. "CRS will no longer identify earmarks for individual programs, activities, entities, or individuals," stated a private Feb. 22 directive from CRS Director Daniel Mulhollan. . . .

Despite claims they would bring reform, Congress's new bosses are acting like the old bosses. Last Friday, Arizona Rep. Jeff Flake sought clarification from House Appropriations Chairman David Obey about an incorrect listing of a NASA earmark in the Iraq supplemental bill. Rep. Obey responded: "The fact is, that an earmark is something that is requested by an individual member. This item was not requested by any individual member. It was put in the bill by me!" In other words, Mr. Obey believes his own earmarks are nothing of the kind.

Sen. Coburn plans to fight back. He says he will attach an amendment to every appropriations bill demanding CRS prepare a full report on the earmarks in it. "Let senators vote for secrecy and prove they don't want a transparent process or let them deliver what they promised," he says. "The choice will be theirs and the American people will be watching."

I guess not all the American people. Some will continue to ignore it and focus on the real problems like 8 instead of 96.

I wonder when many here will admit they got duped by these Democrats...

Bril, Hilzoy's now written quite a few fine and informative posts about the US Attorneys who got fired and why this matters: suggest you go read them all and then you can comment in a more well-informed fashion.

Yours was a great post, especially the last two paragraphs. I wasn't born until 1973 - the day after Spiro Agnew resigned, in fact - and my attempts to talk about politics with peers have been stopped, again and again, by the repeated, word-for-word insistence "But all politicians are crooks" that, on further discussion, is almost always literally meant.

This, I think, is more than anything the legacy of the Vietnam War. It made serial liars, and mass murderers, of two consecutive presidents, the first of whom would have been a solid nominee for Greatest President Ever if he hadn't sabotaged his own War on Poverty to escalate a shooting war he knew for a fact was a waste of time and (other people's) lives. If Nixon had been alone, unique, it's possible the 1960-and-beyond generation would have been as shocked by Watergate as the adults were ... or it's possible the news media would have succumbed either way to permanent snark and doomed us all. As is, though, a generation came of age used to expecting the worst.

Ironically, Hubert Humphrey - a perfect example of a decent man in politics - almost certainly was the fair winner of the 1968 election. However, the votes were not miscounted by "the party in power", but by the long-established tendency of voting machines in poor neighborhoods to "spoil" ballots at ten times the rate of voting machines in rich ones, with no clear partisan intent.

I'm all for investigations of voter fraud. As long as we don't define the problem to exclude from investigation the methods of fraud popular with the Republican party.

I'm in Florida, where manipulation of the voter roles and "purge" lists are the stuff of legends. But I'm talking about more than that, the kind of thing that never seems to make the news.

For instance my niece was a volunteer with ACORN, working on get out the vote efforts in the minority neighborhoods of Tallahassee during the 2004 election. In those areas virtually every household she spoke to had received one of two calls. Both calls were from a person purporting to be with the leon county supervisor of elections office. One call told the person that due to expected high turnout and long lines at the polls the dates of the election had been extended and Republicans would be voting on Tuesday, Democrats would vote on Wednesday. The second call also cited the expected high turn out and lines to explain that procedures had been changed so they could mark the sample ballot they had received in the mail and mail it back to the election office where it would be counted as an absentee ballot.

A couple of calls could be a prank. My niece talked to over a hundred people who had received those calls, in several neighborhoods. Other volunteers reported the same thing. Which means that there must have been many thousands of calls made. I would also note that my niece asked and was told it was not an automated call, there was a real person on the line. That's not a prank. It takes multiple people a lot of time and effort to make that many calls. My niece, and the ACORN supervising the Tallahassee get out the vote effort reported this to the State attorney's office and to the Florida Secretary of State's office but were blown off both places. As far as I know, no report on this made even the local news.

I would also note, before the reflexive right wing attack on ACORN, they are in the clear again. Within the last couple of weeks the last civil suit against them was dismissed, and the last criminal investigation was concluded some time before that.

They know no limits at all.

That is a flaw in their education, but a correctable one.

Subpoena them and make them testify under oath.

If they refuse hold them in contempt.

If they lie, prosecute them for perjury.

If they have abused their office, impeach them.

If they have broken the law, send them to jail.

Loss of office and/or loss of personal freedom will be very effective in concentrating their minds.

It's not complicated. Congress has the authority to do all of the above.

If you're angry, put your anger to work. Call your Congresspeople and tell them what you want done. Make a pest of yourself if need be.

Bril, welcome back. I'm sorry to inform you that Bill Clinton is no longer President of the US, we have a new President now.

Thanks -

@cleek:

"hmm.... they have one clear limit: is it legal?"

You're 100% right: This Adminstration, more than any I can recall (and that's quite a few) has relied on its own interpretation of the (broadly defined) "law" - especially as it relates to the powers and privileges of the Executive - interpretations which may or may not conflict with established law, custom, practice or Constitutional authority; but have just gone with whatever suites their purposes.

I have long thought that the GW Bush Administration's attitude towards the "separation of powers" and the interpretation of regulations is rather like dealing with a huge corporation (say, a mail-order company), from whom you order goods, pay them your money, and then they refuse to send you your order: citing, instead, a letter from their in-house lawyer saying that, in their opinion, commercial law doesnt apply in your case, and that you're just out of luck.

You have only a few options in cases like this: 1) keep protesting 2) threaten to sue for your stuff (or your money back) or 3) actually sue. And of course, the imbalance of resources will, in every case be on their, not your side (not to mention the time factor).

I think a more concise definition of this Adminstration's attitude towards "limits" would be simply: "what can we get away with"?; or its recently revised corollary: "what can we get away with till January, 2009"?

You can see it in the outing of Valerie Plame: someone who had made real sacrifices, and perhaps risked her life, for her country was exposed for no reason other than pure political benefit.

Actually, it was Richard Armitage who leaked her name, and he was not exactly part of the Bush inner circle, and he wasn't seeking political benefit for Bush. And actually, Armitage told Bob Woordward before the Novak column came out that Joe Wilson himself was "calling everybody" to talk about Plame.

Here's the MP3 file where you can listen for yourself.

And here's the relevant transcript:


Woodward: Well it was Joe Wilson who was sent by the agency, isn’t it?

Armitage: His wife works for the agency.

Woodward: Why doesn’t that come out? Why does that have to be a big secret?

Armitage: (over) Everybody knows it.

Woodward: Everyone knows?

Armitage: Yeah. And they know ’cause Joe Wilson’s been calling everybody. He’s pissed off ’cause he was designated as a low level guy went out to look at it. So he’s all pissed off.

Woodward: But why would they send him?

Armitage: Because his wife’s an analyst at the agency.

Woodward: It’s still weird.

Armitage: He — he’s perfect. She — she, this is what she does. She’s a WMD analyst out there.

Woodward: Oh, she is.

Armitage: (over) Yeah.

Woodward: Oh, I see. I didn’t think…

Armitage: (over) "I know who’ll look at it." Yeah, see?

Woodward: Oh. She’s the chief WMD…?

Armitage: No. She’s not the…

Woodward: But high enough up that she could say, "oh, yeah, hubby will go."

Armitage: Yeah. She knows [garbled].

Woodward: Was she out there with him, when he was…?

Armitage: (over) No, not to my knowledge. I don’t know if she was out there. But his wife’s in the agency as a WMD analyst. How about that?

Here's a Washington Post story on the above exchange:
Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward testified under oath Monday in the CIA leak case that a senior administration official told him about CIA operative Valerie Plame and her position at the agency nearly a month before her identity was disclosed.

In a more than two-hour deposition, Woodward told Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald that the official casually told him in mid-June 2003 that Plame worked as a CIA analyst on weapons of mass destruction, and that he did not believe the information to be classified or sensitive, according to a statement Woodward released yesterday.

John Doe: Actually, it was Richard Armitage who leaked her name

Actually, Armitage reported (hearsay) that "Joe Wilson’s been calling everybody." He didn't claim he himself had received a phonecall from Joseph Wilson. And no one out of that "everybody" has come forward to claim that Joseph Wilson called them. The most likely conclusion is that someone else - who, we don't know - told Armitage "And they know ’cause Joe Wilson’s been calling everybody. He’s pissed off ’cause he was designated as a low level guy went out to look at it. ..... Because his wife’s an analyst at the agency." But thanks for repeating this easily-debunked right-wing meme. I needed a coffee-break.

jrudkis: I am a Washington resident and although a registered Democrat, I have no love lost for Chris Gregoire, the Dem candidate and ultimate victor on the Gov's race. In fact, if truth be told, I did not vote for her. I would have been happy to see her go down in flames, and my opinion of her is further confirmed recently when she tried to shove the rebuilt viaduct down Seattlites' throats.

That being said, I do not think that the election had hallmarks of voter fraud sufficient to justify an investigation. The King County prosecutor is a Republican. That's where most of the votes were in question. He did nothing. The Repubs lawsuit was filed in E. Washington in front of a Republican judge. He found against them. The Wa. Sec'y of State is a Republican. He found nothing worth investigating. The new Wa Atty General is a Republican. He could have but chose not to investigate the election on a statewide basis to uncover voter fraud. I think you are wrong as shown by the behavior of Republicans, who if there was indicia of fraud, would have jumped on it like white on rice. It just does not hold up.

It's not so much that the Bushies disregard the rules in pursuit of some other goals, it's that they're obsessed with proving that the rules don't apply to them--forget things like habeas corpus and the Geneva Conventions, they don't even believe that the rules of economics or the laws of nature can constrain them.

But on the bright side--I want to give a little credit to a non-corrupt politician, just to start that ball rolling. I live about a block from former senator Sarbanes. The day that Duke Cunningham was indicted I happened to drive by his house where he was out raking his own leaves in an old, too-small track suit. The contrast was striking.

Oh, and ps. A Wall St. Journal opinion citing minor doughy pantsload, Stefan Sharkansky (Wa's answer to Jonah Goldberg), does not change the equation.

and my attempts to talk about politics with peers have been stopped, again and again, by the repeated, word-for-word insistence "But all politicians are crooks" that, on further discussion, is almost always literally meant.

I was a little kid when Agnew and Nixon resigned, and a few years later, during the Ford and Carter administrations, I remember having this conversation with other kids my age who had already absorbed post-Watergate omni-cynicism from their parents. "The only difference with Nixon is that he got caught doing what they all do."

Personally, I don't actually believe that all politicians burglarize their opponents' campaign offices and draw up extensive enemies' lists of activists, actors and newspaper columnists to be targeted by dirty-tricks operatives. But since it may be hard to convince people of that, my standard response to this now is: "If that's really what they all do, better to come down hard on it to put a scare into them."

But thanks for repeating this easily-debunked right-wing meme. I needed a coffee-break.

Sheer speculation = "easily debunked"? Sorry, try again.

The only point on which you're not making stuff up is when you say that no one of the "everybody" has come forward to say that Joe Wilson called him or her. OK. Big surprise. With a special prosecutor looking into this entire issue and even prosecuting people for perjury if they slipped up when telling their story, maybe people weren't eager to thrust themselves in the public spotlight. Ever think of that?

John Doe: Sheer speculation = "easily debunked"? Sorry, try again.

No speculation on my part, John. For Armitage to say he was told that Wilson was "calling everyone" is hearsay evidence, non-admissable.

Your assertion that the reason witnesses didn't come forward, in October 2003, when Bush said he wanted to clear things up, to say then that Wilson called them a few months earlier was because they "weren't eager to thrust themselves in the public spotlight" is pure speculation. In October 2003, no one had been charged with perjury, remember. In October 2003, if the truth was that six months earlier Wilson had been "calling everyone", and that was how Plame's covert identity has been outed, White House staff would have been required to come forward: Bush had publicly said he wanted to clear things up, and such evidence would have, in fact, completely cleared the shadowy figures in the Bush administration who were alleged by Novak to have leaked Plame's identity to him.

Easily debunked. Thanks for the teabreak. (I don't like to drink too much coffee.)

John Doe - you are accusing others of "sheer speculation"?

poor John Doe - if only the CIA would listen to his evidence, we could put this whole Plame affair behind us.

wait, wait! Isn't it Mr. Maguire who opines on Plame and Mr. Doe who is the expert on the attorney firings?

I don't normally comment on this blog, but just had to say something. My husband gives me the "all politicians are this way" line all the time. He does vote, and for the most part he votes the same way I do - but never because he thinks someone is better, but rather that they are "less terrible".

I love what you have said. It hit a real cord in my mind. I need to re-read it and try and use it in my discussions with him. Yes, there is a difference. Thanks.

If we should turn a blind eye to Bush or Nixon because "the only difference is they got caught," does that also apply to murderers, drug-dealers and rapists?

Deep in their Conradian jungle outpost, where they have sought refuge in the elemental purity of primitive, eyelidless human motivations, John Doe, and Bril and Brett deliver their last exasperated Brando breaths, chuffing out the words:

"The hypocrisy ....... the hypocrisy!

Vine tendrils creep up their pantlegs.

;)

Gotta say, though, that I'm deeply disappointed in Pete Domenici in this whole affair. I considered him wrong on lots of stuff, but a good egg. Someone whom, when the jungle reclaimed the crazy people in the Republican Party, would once again deliver some honesty and integrity to our flawed system.

Instead, he looked into Bush's soul and fell off the edge, mesmerized by the whirlpool far below.

For Armitage to say he was told that Wilson was "calling everyone" is hearsay evidence, non-admissable.

Attention, please: This is a blog, not a court of law. You don't have to put aside common sense in order to abide by strict rules of evidence here.

Do you have any actual evidence that Armitage was lying? None whatsoever.

Do you even contest the fact that -- whether or not Wilson had called "everybody -- it was Armitage himself who spilled the beans about Wilson's wife, and that he wasn't doing so for political advantage? No, you don't. The post is simply regurgitating partisan hackery on this point.

In October 2003, if the truth was that six months earlier Wilson had been "calling everyone", and that was how Plame's covert identity has been outed, White House staff would have been required to come forward:

Huh? Why in the world do you think Armitage was saying that Wilson had been calling "White House staff," rather than journalists (such as Kristof of the New York Times)?

Terrific post, Hilzoy. You hit two of my own favorite rants: (1) most politicians really are pretty honest and trying to help; and (2) the current Republican leadership shows a qualitatively different its contempt for the law than any recent party.

Sorry, please delete "its" from that last clause

It's amazing how administration loyalists have internalized the talking point that "Armitage was the outer," as if the orchestrated leaking campaign never occurred. It's not as if Rove, Libby, et al, thought to themselves "wow, I'd never go public with the information that Wilson's wife works for the CIA, but now that Armitage has talked to Woodward about it, I guess it's okay!"

I know it's fun and all that to claim "Armitage was THE leaker" but a little more honesty would be refreshing.

There are some systemic problems with the American government that are unearthed in this discussion.

1. One of the very few things Alexander Hamilton was wrong about was inclusion of the President's power to pardon in the Constitution. Nixon belonged in jail and his pardon by Ford (in advance of any indictment --an unheard of procedure at the time) has given every high level federal crook since the "hope" that he would be able to drive away from his own felonies without doing time.

The Nixon pardon embittered the Baby Boomer generation and poisoned our participation in politics. If you don't believe that, look at the two boomer POTUS scum: Billy Jeff and "W". Nixon's pardon guaranteed another scandal (Poindexter and North). North's clever escape from jail time by an appeal financed by Jerry Falwell guaranteed another scandal. All of this present corruption was utterly predictable. Unequal Treatment under the law especially favoritism in criminal misconduct, didn't start yesterday.

2. Congress gave itself the power to subpoena witnesses under oath in the power-tripping joyride after the Civil War. What good legislation has ever come out of the power to subpoena? Ever? The Federal Election Commission and campaign spending limitations after Watergate?

Government by inquisition has been a failure. Don't expect it to solve the problems that "W" has created or exacerbated.

3. Congress has passed too many loosey-goosey fluid-law bills authorizing commissions and semi-indepedent agencies that make their own rules and then report for Congressional "oversight." So this is government by arrogant beaurocrat subject to review by committee testamony under oath. This is the root of the problem hilzoy discussed. "Look at what Clinton did to the EPA." He ruined it. So why complain, now, that "W" and his goons are wrecking the National Science Foundation, the FDA, and ignoring the weights-and-measures, safety and engineering responsibilities of the federal government? Nobody cared when this dry rot started. Nobody.

4. Who wants honest, ruthless federal prosecutors? Oh, you do. Really? Watch what happens when the best prosecutor of all, Rudy Guliani, gets into the heat of campaign. Everyone from left and right is going to smear him to smithereens. Nobody really wants those federal prosecutors and federal marshalls to enforce the law. Wait and see, in a year I'll be a prophet for having pointed this out. Read "Prince of the City" to understand what's really going on -- and how long it's been going on.

5. "W" and Cheney are stooges for some very bad people who know how to win at "cops and robbers." So the goal of the POTUS and Veep is to survive until January, 2009. That comment was absolutely correct.

Steve, of course Armitage was the leaker. AFter all, he discovered all on his little lonesome all the details about Wilson and Plame. In fact, all on his lonesome, he found out every important thing except her actual status.

Then he, all on his own, decided to talk to people about it. Only afterwards, when other people discovered, although never acknowledging it, that he had told Woodward, did they decide to, all on their own, talk to other media people.

And of course, none of this was for political advantage. It was purely trying to set everybody right on how nefarious Wilson and Plame both were.

How can you be so cynical not to believe this.

Evidence of absence as evidence of presence. Didn't we go through that with Iraq WMDs?

Blah, I of course meant "Absence of evidence", but my meaning was probably clear. The point is that it's not enough to insinuate that "Gee, maybe nobody felt like coming forward!" Bullshit. That doesn't prove anything. Literally. You can't point to nothing and expect that it proves a point.

If you think you can, well, I've got this anti-tiger rock to sell you. It works, I promise! You don't see any tigers around, do you?

John Doe joked,

Do you have any actual evidence that Armitage was lying? None whatsoever.

This is a blog, not a court of law. You don't have to put aside common sense.

Armitage was working for the White House. So common sense says to distrust anything he says until it's confirmed by a reliable source.

At any rate, if the prosecutor had any reason to think it might be true, it would have been necessary for him to ask Armitage who told him that. And then he would get that person under oath and ask them, "How did you find out that Wilson was telling everybody?" and that person would have told him which journalists told him that Wilson had told them, etc. Or admitted it was a lie. And if it was true then they call the journalists involved and get it from them, and then they charge Wilson.

See, if it wasn't a lie, then it would be *important*. But you want to believe it, presumably for your own personal reasons.

Do you even contest the fact that ... it was Armitage himself who spilled the beans about Wilson's wife, and that he wasn't doing so for political advantage?

Why should we make assumptions about why Armitage did it and was the one who got caught doing it? It's at least as reasonable to suppose that he was just following orders.

Being from Washington State and recalling the 2004 gubernatorial election, I am not sure why the expectation that there would be an investigation into the voter rights in that state is held as an example of unreasonable expectations.

moe has already pointed out that a number of Republican officials declined to move forward after examining the evidence- Id just like to add that there is a gigantic difference between election fraud and a poorly-designed and -run system.
Much of what happened in Florida in 2000 was the result of conflicting and vague rules concerning elections, recounts, challenges, etc. (Of course, some of it was fraud eg Harris's voter roll purge).

real problems like 8 instead of 96

So if I have no problem with the CEO of IBM laying off 5000 workers, I ought to have no problem with him firing his secretary for not sleeping with him. 'cos 5000>1. Gotcha.

they have one clear limit: is it legal?

I think that's backwards- they determine what they would like to do, and then claim that it's legal. The claim can be flimsy, or contrived, or downright ludicrous- but as long as they can repeat it with a straight face on the Sunday morning talk circuit, the SCLM will be happy to do their he-said she-said stories ("Rice Says That President As CIC Has Power To Fund Troops: Democrats Disagree").

Do you have any actual evidence that Armitage was lying?

The point is that Armitage is clearly not reporting something he himself experienced. He's reporting something he was told by someone else.
If you hadn't noticed, some members of the Administration are willing to bend the truth in order to get what they want. So even if Armitage is telling the truth that he heard this, that doesn't make the underlying fact true (ie that Wilson was calling people).

(and, fwiw,
He’s pissed off ’cause he was designated as a low level guy went out to look at it. So he’s all pissed off.

Wilson volunteered for the job, he wasn't compelled. Armitage's explanation of why Wilson is "pissed off" doesn't make a lick of sense. Nor does Wilson's outing of his own wife in this context- if he's pissed about the assignment, why does he need to involve his wife?
What makes sense here is that Armitage is reciting the spin points generated by the WH. Sure, they weren't in print yet, but the WH smear campaign was spreading the word- this is evidence of a larger conspiracy (not necessarily involving Armitage, but providing him information), not evidence that Armitage acted alone. It's certainly not evidence that Joe Wilson did *anything*.)

Robert Novak this weekend:

But this is less a Gonzales problem than a Bush problem. With nearly two years remaining in his presidency, George W. Bush is alone. In half a century, I have not seen a president so isolated from his own party in Congress -- not Jimmy Carter, not even Richard Nixon as he faced impeachment.

The I-word (incompetence) is also used by Republicans in describing the Bush administration generally. Several of them I talked to cited a trifecta of incompetence: the Walter Reed hospital scandal, the FBI's misuse of the USA Patriot Act and the U.S. attorneys firing fiasco. "We always have claimed that we were the party of better management," one House leader told me. "How can we claim that anymore?"

Also, at least this latest is a distraction from the war… Nice.

The I-word (incompetence) is also used by Republicans in describing the Bush administration generally. Several of them I talked to cited a trifecta of incompetence:

My, my, my....they ARE being conservative in their numbering, aren't they....

OCSteve, you are definitely becoming more cynical as time passes. To believe that this is a distraction from the war. I would almost believe that you thought it was planned that way.

The reason Bush strikes me as different in kind from most of the other Presidents I've seen (Nixon being the obvious exception) is that most of them have believed, more or less, in the kinds of lines Josh talks about, whereas as far as I can tell, Bush does not acknowledge their existence.

And he is supported by the likes of the denizens of Bizarro World, where today we learn that "Guantanamo Bay is a reminder [to certain terrorists/would be terrorists] of the strength and resolve of the United States, and the obstacle we present to their jihad. Wouldn’t closing it constitute a victory for them—a non-conventional victory, yes, in this non-conventional war, but an important one nonetheless?"

Moe Lane makes an appearance in the comments, explaining "The folks at Gitmo are illegal combatants who have been captured while they were fighting in violation of the Geneva Conventions."

john miller: Sorry – I wasn’t clear. Novak was reporting that “some Republicans” find a saving grace in that the scandal distracts us from the war.

The saving grace that some Republicans find in the dispute over U.S. attorneys is that, at least temporarily, it draws attention away from debate over an unpopular war.

It seems to be true. Hilzoy’s posts for the last week:
AG scandal: 8
War: 2

They got you Hil! ;)

And I was referring to the little editorial comment "nice".

Lam on a 'short leash'.

"One of those is the vote. Whoever's in power and however intense things get, most of us assume that the party in power won't interfere with the vote count. We also assume that the administration won't use the IRS to harrass or imprison political opponents. And we assume that criminal prosecutions will be undertaken or not undertaken on the facts."

Hmmm, I think Josh didn't notice why Republicans were angry in the 1980s then.

I have long assumed that interference with the vote count happens regularly--that is why easy-fraud procedures (see especially Wisconsin, Minnesota and Florida) have persisted across many iterations of either party having power. Neither party wants to shut down their own corrupt practices (they always pretend that they don't exist) in order to shut down their own corrupt practices.

The IRS harrassing church and anti-abortion groups is completely expected whenever a Democrat controls the levers of power (most recent example--Clinton an organization I was involved with was subjected to year-long audits 6 out of the 8 Clinton years and the IRS couldn't even find enough to require additional tax liability on any year).

Prosecutorial discretion has always been a big deal and has always been tied up in political power. There is a certain Senator Kennedy who knows plenty about that.

The more I look at the attorney firings, the less I like it. It appears to cronyism in at least one case and some other type of wrong-headedness in others (possible obstruction of an investigation in at least two cases, and generally very counterproductive grudge settling in at least one of the other).

The would suggest that the change is indeed a line being crossed, but not really the one Josh suggests. He is closest when he says it is about systematizing things. Many previous administrations of both parties (and especially Nixon and Clinton in most recent pre-Bush history) have been super-permissive of, or in some cases generally encouraging of, local corruption with national ramifications. Bush's innovation (if it is an innovation because some of the Arkansas investigations under Clinton and the Mark Rich and Susan McDougal at least hint otherwise) is to centrally demand such corruption.

John Doe:

Actually, it was Richard Armitage who leaked her name, and he was not exactly part of the Bush inner circle, and he wasn't seeking political benefit for Bush.

Wrong. It's off topic but annoying to see this disinformation.

Armitage was only one of the leakers (along with Libby, Rove, Fleisher, etc.), and along with Rove, the only leaker that got a reporter (if Novak can be called that) to print the link between Plame and Wilson. Armitage reportedly got the idea from the CIA memo prepared at Libby's request concerning the Wilson trip to Niger, which was also given to Armitage. The memo was marked as classified. The linking of Plame to that trip in order to discredit Wilson did not originate with Armitage. The extent to which Armitage was in direct contact with Libby et al. about this has not been publicly revealed (i.e., did Armitage independently think up the smear or was he echoing something the Libby/Cheney had clearly conjured earlier), but I am sure it was something covered in his secret grand jury testimony. Armitage has not come clean on many aspects of his story -- only the portion that serves the interests of Bush apologists.

Armitage is a loyal Republican, and although not a member of the Bush inner circle, certainly a wanna be. He was spreading the 'Wilson's a girly-man who only got his trip because of his CIA wife' meme to help the Bush administration -- there was no other purpose for the blabbing on the topic. Per Novak, he was spoon fed the info because his sources thought it important.

Sebastian,

""One of those is the vote. Whoever's in power and however intense things get, most of us assume that the party in power won't interfere with the vote count. We also assume that the administration won't use the IRS to harrass or imprison political opponents. And we assume that criminal prosecutions will be undertaken or not undertaken on the facts."

Hmmm, I think Josh didn't notice why Republicans were angry in the 1980s then."

Is there a typo here? Since Republicans held the Executive Branch for the entire decade of the 1980's from 1/20/81 on, I don't think any abuses in that decade should give rise to Republican complaints.

One could argue for a whole different set of reasons for Republicans to be angry, but that is a topic for a different post.

Maybe Sebastian is referring to Iran-Contra, a "fake scandal" that never should have been investigated?

what, no comments yet on the Anna Nicole Smith autopsy results that detail her drug use and methods and state she was 178lbs? I'm shocked shocked! vbg.

"Is there a typo here? Since Republicans held the Executive Branch for the entire decade of the 1980's from 1/20/81 on, I don't think any abuses in that decade should give rise to Republican complaints."

No, you're right it was the abuses earlier that led rise to the focused anger in the 1980s.

Never forgiven the Democratic Party for Watergate, have you? Seriously, what specifically are you talking about?

Also the cynic in me wonders if these types of lines were crossed all the time but not exposed until the internet-news age. (And to be clear, if they weren't exposed in the past but are now exposed, I count that as a good development).

Also the cynic in me wonders if these types of lines were crossed all the time but not exposed until the internet-news age

i'd be shocked if they weren't.

From Marshall's post (first link above): "And the president is fine with all of this."

I think he does a fair amount of mind-reading there and subsequent. The president may be unhappy about the situation but calculating that candor would lead to bad consequences. What's known is plenty without trying to overread it into Bush's mind.

Abuse of prosecutorial disrection: this is frankly a constant. Sometimes it is an acceptable change of focus, sometimes it isn't. But there isn't any question that Kennedy should have been tried for manslaughter--instead the investigation was shut down almost immediately.

IRS Audits of right-wing organizations--this was a big area for Clinton. The Judicial Watch audit which began four days after they released their impeachment report. The National Rifle Association audit. The Heritage Foundation audits. And fun timing on individual audits too--Paula Jones audited just after the Supreme Court ruling in her favor. Juanita Broaddrick audited just after her rape allegations aired. Billy Dale audited as the Travel scandal blew up (coincidentally which is just what William Kennedy threatened to do when the FBI refused to manufacture charges against him).

The Susan McDougal pardon anyone? If there is a Libby pardon, it will be an exact counterpart to the McDougal pardon. (And remember that McDougal's testimony wasn't supposed to be about a blowjob, it was about financial corruption.)

Mark Rich pardon? Did we ever hear of even a remotely legitmate sounding reason why he was pardoned? I'm not talking something that passes the smell test, just anything at all.

I don't think Marshall was commenting on Bush's emotional state, only that by his actions he found the status quo acceptable.

Hmmm, I think Josh didn't notice why Republicans were angry in the 1980s then.

The Reagan "revolution" had nothing to do with voter fraud or federal investigations. According to Merle and Earl Black, it had everything to do with the GOP embracing "states rights" and lower taxes. This enabled Reagan to turn what had been a Democratic South into a GOP lock.

Mark Rich pardon? Did we ever hear of even a remotely legitmate sounding reason why he was pardoned? I'm not talking something that passes the smell test, just anything at all.

Sure, that one I know offhand (this may be garbled somewhat, I'm remembering rather than looking it up). Rich's conviction was for tax fraud, under circumstances where his defense was that his original position was a good-faith interpretation of the law. Given the complexity of the tax law, SDNY standard procedure before the Rich case was to pursue such cases only civilly, rather than criminally -- while generally 'ignorance of the law is no excuse', it makes a certain amount of sense to make it a partial excuse given the arcane nature of the laws in question. The fact that Rich was criminally prosecuted at all under the circumstances was very unusual, and the pardon made sense given that fact.

Mark Rich pardon? Did we ever hear of even a remotely legitmate sounding reason why he was pardoned? I'm not talking something that passes the smell test, just anything at all.

There was also the phone conversation Clinton had with Ehud Barak, during which Barak apparently requested that Rich be pardoned.

The Susan McDougal pardon anyone? If there is a Libby pardon, it will be an exact counterpart to the McDougal pardon.

I think the more apt counterpart is the Iran-Contra pardons.

Mark Rich pardon? Did we ever hear of even a remotely legitmate sounding reason why he was pardoned? I'm not talking something that passes the smell test, just anything at all.

Two distinguished professors of tax law opined that what Rich had been convicted of wasn't tax evasion.

and there's this interesting tidbit from wiki:

During hearings after Rich's pardon, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who had represented Rich from 1985 until the spring of 2000, denied that Rich had violated the tax laws, but criticized him for trading with Iran at a time when that country was holding U.S. hostages.

Sebastian:

"Bush's innovation ..... is to centrally demand such corruption."

I think this formulation is about right. Thus the Consiglieri in the corner office doing the "business" of the country on the wrong e-mail account.

Since we're talking about Armitage ... this from George Packer's article in the new Yorker, entitled "Betrayed", regarding what we have wrought in Iraq:

"When I met Armitage recently, at his office in Arlington, Virginia, he was not confident that Iraqis could be similarly (to Vietnamese refugees) resettled. 'I guarantee you no one's thinking about it now, because it's so fatalistic and you'd be considered sort of a traitor to the President's policy," he said. "I don't see us taking them in this time, because notwithstanding what we may owe people, you're not going to bring in large numbers of Arabs to the United States, given the fact that for the last six years the President has scared the pants off the American public with fears of Islamic terrorism."

"Even at this stage of the war, Armitrage said, officials at the White House retain 'an agnosticsm about the size of the problem." He added, "The President believes so firmly that he is President for just this mission and --- and there's something religious about it -- that it will succeed, and that kind of permeates. I just take him at his word these days. I think it's very improbable that he'll be successsful."

Read the rest, too, but take something to sooth the vomit reflex. I love the use of the terms "agnosticism" and "religious" in the same paragraph, the first referring to reality and the second referring to the visions of a crazy person.

Personally, I like a little corruption in my elected officials, seeing as how they should be a reflection of the American electorate. After all, LBJ had to have a whole bunch of chits to call in to get some good things done.

Nixon was a thug, but kind of an endearing one at the end, what with all the blubbering and such. Clinton's corruption I found to be fairly petty. Reagan was so blissed out by his confusion between himself and all the B movie characters he played that any reasonable person could see that his crackpottery required the odd Oliver North or two to accomplish his dreams. Bush the Senior was a pale LBJ, aware of the levers of power and the unsavory manipulation required among a Nation of kidders, barkers, and idealists.

Bush the Junior and the current crowd, however, are a whole new tapestry of twisted, in-grown zealotry. It's like finding out the Mafia has been invited by the Pope to place slot machines in every pew.

They are monolithic, dangerous, subversive.

To what end, I keep wondering? There has to be a better punchline than simple incompetence, or simple corruption, or simple ideological rigidity, or simple religious zealotry.

Incidentally, I love the fact presented in the Packer article that thousands of the betrayed Iraqis are seeking asylum and becoming Swedes. They are becoming Swedes: don't ya just love the luscious irony of the Red State foreign policy?

They still dream of America, the article concludes. Don't we all. But at least they get universal healthcare now.


I'm not so sure Bush et al. are any more corrupt than previous administrations. To my mind they seem simply to be more incompetent. Surely they could have gotten out ahead of the US Attorneys story better than they did. I mean, evidence of the kind of the poor performance they keep citing must be readily available. It always is, even with stellar performers.

What separates them from previous administrations, IMO, is their arrogance. The assumption that they can get away with anything (when history keeps proving them wrong) never seems to die down. They simply don't learn from their mistakes. And so they don't prepare for how to handle the leaks or poor performances. They're terrible at covering their tracks, because they're not worried about being caught. (There might also be something to the notion raised earlier that Internet journalism makes getting away with things harder than ever, but the jury's out on that, I think.)

What's so hideous about their arrogance is how it's continually led them to trample American ideals and values in their pursuit of power far more than other administrations have. Watergate and its repercussions were kid's play next to the payback coming from Abu Ghraib and G-bay torture. Ask the British sailors currently being "interrogated" by the Iranians if they'd go back in time and protest the systematic dismantling of the rights of prisoners by the US. Whether they're being abused or not, I'm sure they're more afraid of it than they would have been 5 years ago.

Sebastian,

If there is a Libby pardon, it will be an exact counterpart to the McDougal pardon.

I don't recall all the details of the Susan McDougal case, but what I do remember doesn't make it seem like a parallel to a hypothetical Libby pardon at all.

First, McDougal spent a considerable amount of time in jai, both fo rher felony convictions and for refusing to testify. Libby, if pardoned, is unlikely to be similarly inconvenienced.

Second, she claimed, IIRC, not forgetfulness or whatever, but that she was being pressured to testify falsely.

I don't see these as comparable cases.

"Rich's conviction was for tax fraud, under circumstances where his defense was that his original position was a good-faith interpretation of the law. Given the complexity of the tax law, SDNY standard procedure before the Rich case was to pursue such cases only civilly, rather than criminally -- while generally 'ignorance of the law is no excuse', it makes a certain amount of sense to make it a partial excuse given the arcane nature of the laws in question. The fact that Rich was criminally prosecuted at all under the circumstances was very unusual, and the pardon made sense given that fact."

That can't be the explanation, because Mr. Rich fled the country upon indictment and never subjected himself to a trial, so there was no jury-reviewed defense and no conviction.

Sebastian,

If there is a Libby pardon, it will be an exact counterpart to the McDougal pardon.

I don't recall all the details of the Susan McDougal case, but what I do remember doesn't make it seem like a parallel to a hypothetical Libby pardon at all.

First, McDougal spent a considerable amount of time in jai, both fo rher felony convictions and for refusing to testify. Libby, if pardoned, is unlikely to be similarly inconvenienced.

Second, she claimed, IIRC, not forgetfulness or whatever, but that she was being pressured to testify falsely.

I don't see these as comparable cases.

It's still a defense, even if not presented at trial. The point is not that he should have been acquitted, but that prosecuting him criminally at all for tax fraud under the circumstances was highly unusual and looked like prosecutorial overreaching. I'm not saying that that excuses his flight, but it's an explanation for the pardon.

Note that Clinton also (a) conditioned the pardon on Rich paying a $100,000,000 fine; and (b) despite the pardon Rich still lives abroad, as I believe he's still wanted on state charges (as the President cannot pardon someone for those).

"Second, she claimed, IIRC, not forgetfulness or whatever, but that she was being pressured to testify falsely."

The solution to that is what witnesses do every day--testify truthfully.

I agree with Edward on this: "What separates them from previous administrations, IMO, is their arrogance". And it is their arrogance which leads to, in my opinion, their worst fault--inability to respond flexibly to situations which demand it. Even if it were true, for example, that there was a good chance that we didn't need very many troops in Iraq, it became obvious to anyone who isn't just being stubborn that it didn't play out that way.

The solution to that is what witnesses do every day--testify truthfully.

Again, you must not have been paying close attention to the McDougal case if you don't remember the basis of her position -- she was claiming that her truthful testimony was contrary to other information that Starr was relying on, and believed that if she testified truthfully she would be prosecuted for perjury. You don't have to accept her position, but it's not terribly close to the facts of the Libby case, where he admitted to saying things that weren't true, and just claimed to have erred innocently rather than intentionally.

The Susan McDougal pardon anyone? If there is a Libby pardon, it will be an exact counterpart to the McDougal pardon.

Apparently, immediately after the impeachment trial, McDougal went ahead and testified to the stuff she'd avoid testifying to before:
http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/stories/1999/03/23/mcdougal/
She testified that Clinton hadn't done anything wrong concerning the David Hale $300k loan, and had been truthful in his statements.

So, she was willing to sit in jail for 18 months when Starr's power was at its zenith, but once Starr had been defanged she was willing to testify. And her testimony was exculpatory.
IMO that lends quite a bit of credence to the idea that she was not protecting Clinton, she was protecting herself from a rapid prosecutor.

Tick tick tick:

Monica Goodling, a Justice Department official involved in the firings of federal prosecutors, will refuse to answer questions at upcoming Senate hearings, citing Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination, her lawyer said Monday.

"So, she was willing to sit in jail for 18 months when Starr's power was at its zenith, but once Starr had been defanged she was willing to testify. And her testimony was exculpatory."

Or alternatively, once the impeachment failed it didn't matter because the danger to Clinton had passed.

Or alternatively, once the impeachment failed it didn't matter because the danger to Clinton had passed.

She was holding back her exculpatory testimony to protect Clinton?

Or alternatively, once the impeachment failed it didn't matter because the danger to Clinton had passed.

But her testimony was exculpatory. If she'd given it, it would have helped Clinton -- the only bad outcome that could have come from the testimony she actually gave would have been a perjury prosecution directed at her.

"the danger to Clinton had passed."

When will the danger OF Clinton pass?

Because I'm trying to concentrate on the Bush corruption over here in the 21st century.

Yeah but, what about Grover Cleveland? ;)

When will the danger OF Clinton pass?

Nevaaaaaaahhh!!! He will only become more powerful as attempts to strike him down fail. Behold:

First Gentleman William Jefferson Clinton Esq.

Galactus trembles.

"But her testimony was exculpatory. If she'd given it, it would have helped Clinton -- the only bad outcome that could have come from the testimony she actually gave would have been a perjury prosecution directed at her."

Perjury has a base offense level of 14. She spent as much time in jail in contempt of court as she could expect to get for perjury (even if she would have gotten a perjury conviction which strikes me as hugely unlikely given that the evidence against her would pretty much be the word of an admitted cheat).

A few weeks after her initial jailing for contempt:

when Bill Clinton appeared on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. "Susan McDougal told a federal judge in Little Rock the other day the reason she was refusing to testify before a grand jury is she believed Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel, 'was out to get the Clintons,'" Lehrer said to the president. "Do you personally believe that's what this is all about, to get you and Mrs. Clinton?"

Isn't it obvious?" Clinton answered.

"You obviously believe that, right?" Lehrer asked again.

"Isn't it obvious?" Clinton repeated.

Lehrer then asked whether Clinton would consider pardoning the McDougals. "I've given no consideration to that," Clinton answered. "And you know, their cases are still on appeal. And I would-my position would be that their cases should be handled like others, they should go through-there's a regular process for that, and I have regular meetings on that, and I review those cases as they come up after there's an evaluation done by the Justice Department. And that's how I think it should be handled."

McDougal suggested from the beginning that her refusal to testify was to protect Clinton from prosecutors who were out to get Clinton.

Clinton broadly hinted that he would pardon her--even while she was still at the very beginning of her refusal to testify. And then he did in fact pardon her.

But at least she avoided the immediate post-revelation IRS audit, unlike Clinton's (alleged) rape victim.

McDougal suggested from the beginning that her refusal to testify was to protect Clinton from prosecutors who were out to get Clinton.

Well, yes. As Ugh and I have both said above, her position was that she was being threatened with a perjury prosecution if she didn't lie under oath to enable Starr to 'get' Clinton. Her refusal to testify as Starr wanted her to was to protect Clinton; her refusal to testify at all was to protect herself.

meanwhile, in the present day, in which Clinton has no power, a Bush DOJ official would rather take the 5th than tell Congress the truth.

Sebastian, that's a long quote and, near as I can tell, has nothing to do with the fact under discussion: i.e., that McDougal had no incentive to withhold testimony, si nce it was exculpatory of Clinton.

Care to take another swing at it?

Is there some recounting somewhere of Clinton's use of the IRS to audit his enemies? When I google I get a bunch of newsmax-esque type sites and a breathless Bob Novak column.

There was a congressional investigation linked here recently that said it didn't happen -- let me look around for it for you.

I overstated it; the investigation only covered tax-exempt organizations, not individuals. (Anarch linked it in an earlier US Attorneys thread.)

Thanks LB. Would be interesting if there was a report on the individuals. In this vein there are generally several level of audits that the IRS performs on individuals - from correspondene audits (e.g., a letter saying "please provide documentation supporting this deduction") to face to face audits, to audits where you have to prove everything (even that your kids are your kids- though I think the IRS has cut back on these recently). Plus there is IRS audit software that flags returns automatically for further review - without any human intervention at all.

I wonder, after all the breathless stories on using the IRS to go after political enemies, if there are any stories on the result of these nefarious audits.

...an organization I was involved with was subjected to year-long audits 6 out of the 8 Clinton years...

Funny, the investigation seems to have missed this obvious example. One can draw one's own conclusions.

Clinton broadly hinted that he would pardon her--even while she was still at the very beginning of her refusal to testify. And then he did in fact pardon her.

Did he do it somewhere other than the article you quoted? Bc all he said there was that there was a process. Unless you have such suspicions of Clinton that even the most bland and innocuous statement becomes a secretly coded conspiracy.
Also, note that his end-of-term pardon did not spare her any of the jail time she served for contempt. You seem to broadly hint at a secret bargain (which fyi would've probably been better handled *in secret*, doncha think?) wherein she is spared the cost of keeping silent- but she in fact paid that cost in full.

Per policy, a mention of Broaddrick requires a mention of Selene Walters and the observation that liberals (for some reason) chose not to attempt to make political hay with a dubious allegation of the most heinous sort.
Some conservatives apparently lack such scruples.

Huh. I'd never heard that story before googling it just now.

The devolution of this thread reminds me why I didn't read, watch, or listen to any U.S. news having to do with anything but Turkey and Colombia from 1997 to 2001.

And once again, a thread about Bush degenerates into musings on the Clenis...

PS, Nell: There's no such thing as "devolution", only "Intelligent Undesign".

And once again, a thread about Bush degenerates into musings on the Clenis...

Must be why Seb vanished, having accomplished his goal.

Has Goodling testified before Congress already? I'm getting from the letter that she hasn't, but I haven't been following this closely. (The letter does mention that another DOJ official claimed that she hadn't fully informed him before his testimony--but that's not a potential basis for charges against her, right?)

If not, her theory is that she has to take the Fifth because she might incriminating herself by lying under oath at that hearing, or those untrustworthy Senators might claim she did?

If the latter, that strikes me as bullsh*t (or a "novel legal theory" as we say), and it would basically gut subpoena power. The Fifth Amendment means protects you from being compelled to confess to a crime or incriminate yourself; it does not protect you from being compelled to testify because you might COMMIT (or be accused of committing) perjury/lying to Congress/etc.! What witness couldn't potentially lie under oath or be accused of doing so?

I have a job, sorry.

"It is the politically charged environment created by the members of the committee ... that has created the ambiguous and perilous environment in which even innocent witnesses would be well advised not to testify," Dowd wrote.

I have to remember that if I am ever called before one of these things.

Orin Kerr had the same reaction I did, except he actually knew what he was talking about instead of having a vague sense that this wasn't kosher.

Orin Kerr had the same reaction I did, except he actually knew what he was talking about instead of having a vague sense that this wasn't kosher.

(I suppose she could be worried about conspiracy/accessory liability to previous false statements by McNulty. That would be a real reason to invoke the Fifth Amendment but she'd have to do it question-by-question on her role in preparing McNulty for the hearing.)

My first thought was that she is, or perhaps should be, concerned with suborning perjury, wrt the testimony of McNulty.

There's also conspiracy to obstruct justice -- if as WH liason she is the link between people who want investigations interfered with (but lack the power to do so) and the people who lack that intent, but have the power to interfere, I can imagine a cautious lawyer thinking she ought not talk about it.

Hey, I'm not accusing anyone of anything. Just thinking of Karl asking, in exasperation, "will no rid me of this meddlesome priest . . ."

I see that I might as well turn of my computer and go do something else. Carry on, Katherine.

When will the danger OF Clinton pass?

Never, apparently.

Clinton pardoned his friends.
Bush I pardoned his co-conspirators in Iran-Contra.
Reagan was President during Iran-Contra.

Carter lusted in his heart, was attacked by rabbits, and tried to buck us all up in out hour of distress by wearing Mr. Rogers' sweater on the TV while giving us a schoolmarmish lecture about turning down the thermostat. Sheesh.

Ford pardoned Nixon.
Nixon, of course, was Nixon.

LBJ knew how to louse a guy up better than anyone before or since.
JFK won a squeaker of an election with pretty good evidence of voter fraud in Texas and Illinois. Let's not even touch upon his private life.

Eisenhower might have played a little footsie with his driver during WWII. Or not.
Harry Truman got his political foot in the door through the sponsorship of the notoriously corrupt Tom Pendergast.

And, as alluded to above, the Tilden/Hayes election of 1876 was a hell of a mess.

NONE OF THESE PEOPLE ARE CURRENTLY THE PRESIDENT OF THE US.

Not a few of them are, in fact, no longer with us at all.

How are the sad tales of Susan McDougal, Juanita Broderick, Whitewater, Vince Foster, the nefarious campaign contributions of the PRC, or any other tale of sordid Macbethian machinations by anyone named Clinton relevant, in any way shape or form, to the issue at hand?

They are not.

Thank you

Ah, Seb brings up Clinton's pardons and Drudge "reports":

Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Lamar Smith (R-TX) today asked Former President Bill Clinton if he would be available to testify at the Democrats' Thursday hearing on presidential pardon authority.

"Former President Clinton is no stranger to controversial pardons, most notably the pardon of Marc Rich on his last day in office," stated Ranking Member Smith. "I can think of no better person to address this issue."

At Thursday's hearing of the Judiciary's Crime Subcommittee entitled, "The Appropriate Use of the Presidential Pardoning Power," Democrats are expected to explore what is and is not the appropriate use of pardons, despite a president's plenary power to issue pardons.

President Clinton granted pardons or commuted the sentences of nearly 500 people, including fugitive financier Marc Rich, whose wife donated $450 thousand to the Clinton Library. Other pardons included a person accused of cocaine trafficking and a former Democratic committee chairman indicted on political corruption charges.

The Constitution gives the President the absolute authority to grant clemency, commutation, and remission of fines for offenses. Despite this absolute authority, presidents are not immune from criticism and even congressional attempts to restrict pardon authority.

"Mr. Clinton's exercise of his pardon authority would be of real interest to Members of the Subcommittee," concluded Smith. "I hope he will lend his expertise["]

Has anyone seen Sebastian Holsclaw and Matthew Drudge in the same room together?!!?

Ugh, I would try to respond to you, but you don't appear to have a point.

Ugh, I would try to respond to you, but you don't appear to have a point.

I was entirely kidding and meant no offense. I knew I have should have put a (or should it be "an") ";-)" at the end.

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