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September 04, 2007


Maybe the NYT review will clarify this, but I thought it was Comey (who first told this sotry) who was in the room when Card and Gonzales arrived.

Were they both there, Comey and Goldsmith?

That is perfect. Too bad this was not caught on tape for all eternity.

Said it before, say it again:

When Bush first appointed Ashcroft as Attorney General, I would not have believed it if future-me had come back and told me-then that there would come a day when the behavior of other Bush-appointees would make Ashcroft look admirable by comparison.

Only by comparison. But still.

Not even a smidgen of curiousity as to how Goldsmith knows that Mrs. A "had no idea what we were discussing" ?

I recall that she was the one who alerted Comey to get to the hospital room. If so, she knew enough to realize that something was wrong.

When Bush first appointed Ashcroft as Attorney General, I would not have believed it if future-me had come back and told me-then that there would come a day when the behavior of other Bush-appointees would make Ashcroft look admirable by comparison.

Got to give Yglesias credit, he called it at the time.

It's worth noting that Mrs. Ashcroft is a trained lawyer with a substantial resume. She may not know the details of classified NSA programs, but I'm confident she understood the overall context of the visit quite well.

Like CaseyL, I'm a bit confused here - the passage in the Times piece doesn't seem to mention Comey, let alone the FBI guy I recall he says he brought along. Were there really two such scenes? Is Comey present but not an important actor (seems unlikely with Ashcroft referring to him by name)? How many officials raced to Ashcroft's bedside?

Mind you, I'm sure the story is basically true - noone has really denied it (Gonzales tried to weasel on what he was trying to do, but didn't even weasel too strenuously). Ashcroft and his wife could easily deny it if it weren't true, for one thing. Still, this seems confusing.

Why haven't we heard anything from Ashcroft himself (or his wife) about the hospital visit? Fear of the right-wing smear machine?

Didn't Comey rush to the hospital after he heard that Gonzo and Card were at the hospital and so arrived after the meeting?

I think Comey and Goldsmith were there.

Ugh, I figure that has to be the case - it's just odd that Comey didn't mention Goldsmith being there, and Goldsmith didn't mention Comey.

Considering all the bullsh*t the Right came up with about that visit - either than Comey was simply lying outright, or buying Gonzales' pathetic explanation ("We were just seeing how he was") - I wonder why neither Goldsmith nor Comey mentioned that there was another witness to the whole thing.

My favorite wingnut open air lunatic asylum hasn't mentioned Goldsmith at all last I checked (they're too busy hyperventilating over Hsu). That's a shame, because it was so entertaining reading them tie everything to the Great & Nefarious Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame Plot to Destroy America.

Everyone should, of course, read the article.

Trivial note: "From the NYT's preview of Jack Goldsmith's forthcoming book:"

Er, it's not a preview of Goldsmith's book. It's an article by Jeffrey Rosen. The reference to the article being a "preview" on the main page of the NY Times Magazine section is to the fact that it's a preview from the Magazine that will appear next Sunday, August 9th, rather than having appeared in the current issue.

Goldsmith had no part in writing the piece (other than being interviewed), and it is in no way excerpted from his book. Just for the record.

I'm a bit confused by the preview/interview/article distinction here. Rosen seems to have been given an advance copy of the book and conducted the interview to go over the points of interest. From the 6th page of the piece

In his book, Goldsmith claims that Addington and other top officials treated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act the same way they handled other laws they objected to: “They blew through them in secret based on flimsy legal opinions that they guarded closely so no one could question the legal basis for the operations,” he writes. Goldsmith’s first experienced this extraordinary concealment, or “strict compartmentalization,” in late 2003 when, he recalls, Addington angrily denied a request by the N.S.A.’s inspector general to see a copy of the Office of Legal Counsel’s legal analysis supporting the secret surveillance program. “Before I arrived in O.L.C., not even N.S.A. lawyers were allowed to see the Justice Department’s legal analysis of what N.S.A. was doing,” Goldsmith writes.

Rosen did contact others, presumably to verify some of the facts, so I guess that is article-ish, but it sounds like Rosen's interview followed the structure of the book.

As I said, it's a trivial point.

I'd take the use of "preview" in the way that Hilzoy used it to indicate a strict usage: that it's literally an excerpt of the forthcoming book. Like this, for example.

To be sure, in other contexts, "preview" has far more generic and flexible uses, and it would be perfectly reasonable for Hilzoy to indicate that she meant "preview" in this case in a wider sense, which is what I take her to have meant.

I wouldn't call it a matter of being an "error" or not; I would, though, call it a matter of optimal versus suboptimal clarity. A trivial one.

Thanks Gary, it was an interesting point. I'm now curious if the NYT mag got an advance copy and then contacted Rosen or if there was some other way that the piece was developed.

"Thanks Gary, it was an interesting point."

Retrospectively, not so much, but it's not altogether uncommon for me to look back and conclude that that was a point not worth making. Hey, it's improv.

"I'm now curious if the NYT mag got an advance copy and then contacted Rosen or if there was some other way that the piece was developed."

I idly wondered, especially given the mention of Rosen and Goldsmith's law school friendship.

Without doubt, knowledge that the book was forthcoming has been circulating ever since the deal was made (not that I noticed it, being decades out of the business loop on that sort of thing). Who precisely inititated putting Rosen on the article for the Magazine section isn't something most magazines openly discuss -- more's the pity -- but absent actual knowledge, it could have been anyone involved: Goldsmith, or his agent, or someone clueful around him coming up with the idea, perhaps when Rosen's name came up, or someone at the Magazine, or Rosen himself, or someone at the publisher, or... it's a broad list of possibilities.

A sidebar on how the story was generated, and what changes it went through in the hands of the writer and editors, would be a lovely feature of openness in publications, and could be quite entertaining, with some occasional color of sex and drugs and whatnot involved, but we don't quite have a tradition of that, at least as yet, more's the pity.

Perhaps after another few years of assault by the online world on the sacred precepts of journalism.

@lj, Ugh, CaseyL, etc. on the hospital visit: In Comey's testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee May 15, he said that he, Goldsmith, and Philbin were there. Mueller had come to instruct the FBI guys not to remove Comey under any circumstance, but I think he left before Card and Gonzales arrived.

I'm going by the liveblog of the testimony at Firedoglake; there may be a clearer transcript somewhere:

I was concerned that they might ask Ashcroft to overrule me when he was in no condition to do that. It wasn't clear he could orient to time and place. It was you, Mrs. Ashcroft, and the AG. I tried to help him get oriented. Meuller instructed the FBI agents not to remove me under any circumstances. The three of us DOJ people were in the room, Jack Goldsmith and Patrick Phildmon (sp). We waited. It was only a matter of minutes, in walked Gonzales and Card. They stood by the bed and then AGAG began to discuss why they were there, to seek his approval. AG Ashcroft stunned me and in very strong terms expressed his view of the matter, drawing from the hour long view we had a week ago. Then he said, "that doesn't matter bc I'm not the AG."

Nell - thanks, I had thought they were both there. Mueller wasn't there but was on the phone with Comey and arrived only after the two goons had left.

"For all I know, she could be awful in every other respect, though, statistically, that seems unlikely."

She married John Ashcroft.

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