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On Dec. 30, 2003, the Justice Department named (Patrick) Fitzgerald as special prosecutor. An appointment was made for Fitzgerald to interview me at Swidler Berlin on Jan. 14, 2004. The problem facing me was that the special prosecutor had obtained signed waivers from every official who might have given me information about Wilson's wife.
That created a dilemma. I did not believe blanket waivers in any way relieved me of my journalistic responsibility to protect a source. Hamilton told me that I was sure to lose a case in the courts at great expense. Nevertheless, I still felt I could not reveal their names.
However, on Jan. 12, two days before my meeting with Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor informed Hamilton that he would be bringing to the Swidler Berlin offices only two waivers. One was by my principal source in the Valerie Wilson column, a source whose name has not yet been revealed. The other was by presidential adviser Karl Rove, whom I interpret as confirming my primary source's information. In other words, the special prosecutor knew the names of my sources.
When Fitzgerald arrived, he had a third waiver in hand -- from Bill Harlow, the CIA public information officer who was my CIA source for the column confirming Mrs. Wilson's identity. I answered questions using the names of Rove, Harlow and my primary source.
Novak, of course, was the guy who first named Plame as a CIA agent, back in July 2003 when the Bushites were trying to discredit her husband Ambassador Joseph Wilson who was insisting that the attack-Iraq claque was fixing the facts to make a case for war.
Triggering the criminal investigation, Novak revealed Plame's CIA employment on July 14, 2003, eight days after her husband, White House critic and former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, accused the administration of manipulating prewar intelligence to exaggerate the Iraqi threat from weapons of mass destruction.
Here's an interesting little read from last year on the misinformation campaign around the whole scandal.
In this rhetorical environment characterized by limited information and boundless speculation, those defending the officials at the center of Fitzgerald's probe have advanced numerous falsehoods and distortions. As Media Matters for America documents below, the media have not only failed to challenge many of these claims, but also repeated them.
Novak's secret cooperation with prosecutors while maintaining a public silence about his role kept him out of legal danger and had the effect of providing protection for the Bush White House during the 2004 presidential campaign.
The White House denied Rove played any role in the leak of Plame's CIA identity and Novak, with his decision to talk to prosecutors, steered clear of potentially being held in contempt of court and jailed. Novak said he had declined to go public at Fitzgerald's request.
Azerbic launches a new category today: Tales from the Crypt. Here's where I remind people -- and media types who may have forgotten -- of relevant stories from the past. To begin, a 2003 Guardianreport on U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's involvement with nuclear reactor components being sold to ... drum roll please! ... North Korea.
Mr Rumsfeld was a non-executive director of ABB, a European engineering giant based in Zurich, when it won a $200m (£125m) contract to provide the design and key components for the reactors. The current defence secretary sat on the board from 1990 to 2001, earning $190,000 a year. He left to join the Bush administration.
The reactor deal was part of President Bill Clinton's policy of persuading the North Korean regime to positively engage with the west.
The sale of the nuclear technology was a high-profile contract. ABB's then chief executive, Goran Lindahl, visited North Korea in November 1999 to announce ABB's "wide-ranging, long-term cooperation agreement" with the communist government.
The company also opened an office in the country's capital, Pyongyang, and the deal was signed a year later in 2000. Despite this, Mr Rumsfeld's office said that the de fence secretary did not "recall it being brought before the board at any time".
In a statement to the American magazine Newsweek, his spokeswoman Victoria Clarke said that there "was no vote on this". A spokesman for ABB told the Guardian yesterday that "board members were informed about the project which would deliver systems and equipment for light water reactors".
Which leads me to this bit of even ancienter history.
Donald Rumsfeld chaired the space commission, which released its report on January 11, 2001. Rumsfeld’s staff director was Stephen Cambone, who became the first-ever undersecretary of defense for intelligence in March 2003. Two years previously Rumsfeld had chaired another congressionally mandated commission to assess rogue nation capacity to threaten the U.S. homeland with ballistic missiles. (2) The space commission is often referred to as the second Rumsfeld commission. Like the first commission, the more recent commission echoed the alarmism about national security threats propagated by right-wing groups such as the Center for Security Policy.
The commission concluded that it is “possible to project power through and from space in response to events anywhere in the world.…Having this capability would give the U.S. a much stronger deterrent and, in a conflict, an extraordinary military advantage.” The Rumsfeld space commission argued in Orwellian style that because the United States is without peer among “space-faring” nations, the country is all the more vulnerable to “state and non-state actors hostile to the United States and its interests.” In other words, U.S. enemies would seek to destroy the U.S. economy together with its ability to fight high-tech wars by attacking global-positioning satellites and other “space assets,” which would effectively result in a “Space Pearl Harbor.” (3)
The list of members of the Rumsfeld space commission reads like a Who’s Who of space weapons enthusiasts, military hard-liners, and military-industrial complex insiders.
Amazing what a couple of minutes of Googling can produce in the connect-the-dots department.
Feel free to send your Tales from the Crypt anytime to email@example.com. All submissions I use will win minor recognition right here on this blog seen every day by, um, thousands.
The trolls who have invaded the comments section in this post ought to get a gander at this documentary Sunday night at 10 on CBC Newsworld.
The World According to Bush, a two-hour documentary about the inner-workings of the Bush administration, will alarm even the most hardened Washington-watchers. Fans and critics of the acclaimed Fahrenheit 9/11 will want to see this thoughtful and damning investigation of the U.S. administration.
Who are the Bushes? Apparently, they're the "quiet dynasty" of modern America - but in reality, their "dynasty" is one of inconceivable family secrets, painstakingly concealed. The current president's grandfather, Prescott Bush, made his fortune by managing Nazi companies after Hitler seized power. In 1942, his companies were confiscated for collaboration with the enemy. George Bush Sr., president from 1988 to 1992, armed and financed Saddam Hussein. He approved the shipping of germ warfare strains to Iraq, enabling the country to launch a chemical attack against Iranian troops and the Kurdish population.
The World According to Bush aims to show how the Bushes, father and son, have not only dined with the devil, but have often invited themselves to his table. The bin Ladens and the Bushes have been longtime business partners, and the family of the future terrorist chief indirectly financed George W. Bush's political career. This unnatural alliance has continued since the Sept. 11 attacks: Bush Sr. is a top official in one of the biggest private investment funds in the USA, Carlyle, a group that has invested heavily in the arms industry. The Bradley tanks and the missiles used in the latest war against Iraq are made by firms controlled by Carlyle … and the bin Ladens. For the latter are Bush's associates within this investment fund.
It just goes on and on.
Of course, the only way for Americans to see it is to buy the DVD or rely on indy media sites such as this one. Heaven help the network that dares to air such a document. The anti-terror trolls would probably bomb it.
H/t to Sanj.
UPPITY DATE: I should have noted that this two-hour telecast is a repeat.
THIS POST HAS BEEN UPDATED -- and a big Canadian howdy doody to all you charming Little Green Footballers who are leaving comments about my supposed dildo use! (Shows what a bunch of goofballs you are.)
Because of one thing or another -- professional and personal -- I have been inexcusably neglectful of the outrageous situation in the US of A regarding the political fallout following the New York Times' reports on the Bush regime's tracking of private bank records in its so-called war on terror. Apologies.
The upside is that I can now afford to bring you the more thoughtful pieces (and some bonus fun stuff) on the issue -- specifically, the Bushite war on the Times and several other news organs -- rather than chase the ambulances as they roared by.
For those not fully caught up, the Star's Tim Harper had a good primer last week.
The tension between George W. Bush's White House and The New York Times has largely bubbled beneath the surface, a battle of wills between a secretive administration and a newspaper that has launched almost daily anti-Bush grenades from its editorial pages.
Republicans are accusing the paper known affectionately as the Old Gray Lady of treason, giving aid to the enemy and imperilling American lives.
It is, by most accounts, an attack on the media unmatched in its bitterness since Richard Nixon fought the Times and The Washington Post over the publication of the Pentagon Papers and the Post's Watergate coverage.
This time, the paper's alleged crime was publishing details of a secret anti-terror government program that tracked international bank transfers through a consortium known as SWIFT.
As Robert Scheer sees it, this is a jihad on the media.
The Bush Administration's jihad against newspapers that reported on a secret program to monitor the personal-banking records of unsuspecting citizens is more important than the original story. For what the President and his spokesmen are once again asserting is that the prosecution of this ill-defined, open-ended "war on terror" inevitably trumps basic democratic rights in general and the constitutionally enshrined freedom of the press in particular.
The stakes are very high here. We've already been told that we must put up with official lies about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the unprecedented torture of prisoners of war and a massive electronic eavesdropping program and other invasions of privacy. Now the target is more basic--the freedom of the press to report on such nefarious government activities. The argument in defense of this assault on freedom is the familiar refrain of dictators, wannabe and real, who grasp for power at the expense of democracy: We are in a war with an enemy so powerful and devious that we cannot afford the safeguard of transparent and accountable governance.
It's been fascinating to follow the media reaction to the threats against the media made by the White House ... and the media. There's been virtual silence from the mainstream editorial boards.
As numerous Bush administration officials, congressional Republicans, and conservative media figures continue to attack The New York Times and other newspapers for their decision to publicly disclose the Treasury Department bank-tracking program, major U.S. newspapers' editorial boards have largely remained silent on the issue. According to a Media Matters for America review, 15 newspapers -- not including The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, which also initially reported the program -- have so far editorialized either in support of the papers' decision to run the story or against the criticism they received for doing so.
So where were the hundreds of others of papers?
Meanwhile, the right-wing echo chamber that pretends not to be part of the mainstream in the U.S. but, sadly, is. Very much so. Consider:
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, MSNBC'S "THE SITUATION": I think "The New York Times" hates Bush. I think they probably go out of their way to hurt Bush. I think they would probably even reveal things they shouldn't reveal in order to hurt Bush.
BILL O'REILLY, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL'S "THE O'REILLY FACTOR": The "New York Times" may have reached a tipping point. The paper is chock full of far left columnists, and now its news pages could be damaging national security.
Media Matters has a good round-up of the offenders here. Below, three examples.
Rush Limbaugh, syndicated radio host: "I think 80 percent of their subscribers have to be jihadists. If you look at The New York Times and the kind of stories they're leaking and running and the information they're getting, it's clear that they're trying to help the terrorists. They're trying to help the jihadists." Limbaugh added that he thought that "80 percent of their subscribers have to be jihadists." ... [The Rush Limbaugh Show, 6/27/06]
William Kristol, editor, The Weekly Standard: "I think the Justice Department has an obligation to consider prosecution. ... This isn't a partisan thing of the Bush administration. This is a U.S. government secret program in a time of war, willfully exposed for no good reason by The New York Times." [Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, 6/25/06]
Ann Coulter, right-wing pundit: [R]evealing a classified program, which no one thinks violates any laws ... that has led to the capture of various terrorists, and to various terrorist money-laundering operations. If that is not treason, then we're not prosecuting anymore." [MSNBC's Scarborough Country, 6/26/06]
More on the rightwingdingaling regurgitation of White House talking points here and here.
One talk show host even sanctioned the possible execution of Times editor Bill Keller:
San Francisco talk show host Melanie Morgan believes that Times editor Bill Keller should be jailed for treason for approving the publication.
The maximum penalty for treason is death.
"If he were to be tried and convicted of treason, yes, I would have no problem with him being sent to the gas chamber," Morgan, whose show airs on KSFO-AM, told The Chronicle on Wednesday. "It is about revealing classified secrets in the time of war. And the media has got to take responsibility for revealing classified information that is putting American lives at risk."
But not all conservatives see it that way. I was amazed to discover that MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, for instance, came out on the side of freedom of the press.
Scarborough: You gotta admit-it’s frightening. More so to us who know how Washington works and know how power can corrupt and know how power can be abused. I believe friends, we are in dangerous times for those of us who believe like Thomas Jefferson-that Washington is not to be trusted with unlimited police power.
(H/t to Ron Saba for that one.)
But most of the rightwingers came off like the wing nuts they are. Check out this ''debate'' between California talk show host Bernie Ward and Texas talk jock Chris Baker on MSNBC. Or as Calitics puts it,
Baker: Time of War! New York Times Treasonous! Bush Haters! Ward: Should the government control what a newspaper prints? Baker: Time of War! New York Times Treasonous! Bush Haters! Ward: Answer the question. Should the government control what a newspaper prints?
[Repeat until Baker loses his mind, calls Ward names, and storms off because his Rove-approved talking points aren’t working.]
First amendment lawyer Glenn Greenwald has a long but very strong analysis here.
The media is guilty of publishing stories which might harm the political interests of the President, not which could harm the national security of the United States. But Bush supporters recognize no such distinction. Harming the "Commander-in-Chief in a time of war" is, to them, synonymous with treason. Hence, we have calls for the imprisonment of our national media for reporting stories which tell terrorists nothing of significance which they did not already know, but which instead, merely provoke long-overdue democratic debates about whether we want to be a country in which we place blind trust in the administration to act in total secrecy.
Last, but not least, Don Waller says it ALLhere. (Emphasis is his.)
I hope you all enjoy lying in that bed you've made.
All those years of making excuses for George W. Bush's ineptness, inadequacies, and illegalities have earned you absolutely nothing. You brushed aside his lack of experience and intellectual incuriosity in 1999 and 2000, mostly because you didn't like Al Gore. Your behavoir gave him a much better position from which to steal the 2000 election.
You bought the spin from Bush's minions, ignoring the crisis that was taking place in Florida after the election. You believed every lie they came up with, from 'The votes have been counted and re-counted and re-counted' to 'Al Gore is trying to steal the election,' and you decided that letting Bush take office (in the most literal sense possible) was 'best for the country.'
You papered over the fact that he was scared out of his mind on September 11, 2001 - to the point where he flew to Idaho to hide - in favor of painting him as a 'resolute leader.' You swallowed, hook, line, and sinker, every lie that came out of the White House in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq - in many cases embellishing the lies to make them sound more plausible.
You let the elite members of your profession use their positions as opinion-shapers to shove cooked intelligence down the throats of the American public. You placed that cooked intel on the front pages of every newspaper and magazine in the country, and you played that cooked intelligence at the top of every hour on your cable news outlets.
You never once asked, 'Where is Osama bin Laden?'
You followed him, with your TV cameras, to every single place he went to vent his spleen about terrorists, giving him hours and hours of free face time to repeat his lies. You ignored that people were being arrested for speaking against him, that his audiences were hand-picked, that protestors were being put in pens at great distances from every venue in which he ever appeared.
You bought 'Mission Accomplished' by the pound. You cleared the shelves of 'shock and awe,' exhausted the stocks of 'smokin' 'em out,' drank gallons and gallons of GOP Brand Kool-Aid. You 'embedded' youselves with the military and took everything the military told you at face value - even if it directly contradicted reality as we know it.
You reported staged events like the toppling of Saddam Hussein's statue as if they were real news events. And even after the American public started to wise up and wipe the terra-dust from their eyes, you still insisted upon calling him a 'popular president.'
You helped his employees ruin the reputations of fine men who served this country honorably - letting them compare a man who gave three limbs in service to this country with Osama bin Laden. You took a highly-decorated war veteran - you know, the kind of person that you all love to say you 'support' and 'honor' - and ran his reputation into the mud, somehow making his exemplary service seem shameful.
You justified Bush's expansion of executive power to the point where we don't even need Congress, giving them their new job of stage managers for completely meaningless staged events like the Terri Schiavo fiasco or railing against gay marriage and making sure nobody burns an American flag or dares utter the words that Iraq is bleeding us dry, killing our kids and destroying our reputation as 'the good guys,' worldwide.
You made excuses for his illegal spying on the American people. You offered weak justifications for his naked power grab, you laughed off the fact that his second-in-command shot a man in the face.
You made Ann Coulter socially acceptable.
And after all this, Bush and Cheney and Congress and Coulter and every wingnut pundit, whom you've coddled and accomodated every step of the way, show their appreciation how?
They want to muzzle you. They want to imprison you. They want to try you for treason.
I'd print some more but he gets into what the Bush regime has done to the media in terms I can't use here.
The one good thing in all of this is that more and more Americans are starting to see that the Bushies are acting like cornered rats on their own sinking ship.
But, before they go down, they'll try to take what made the States so great with them.
UPPITY DATE: For all of you claiming that the Times' story was news to the terrorists, read this.
UPPITY WOMAN DATE: You know what I don't get? Why the righties don't understand that financial transactions were being tracked well before 9/11 -- and it was no secret. But they'll say anything to prop up their fearless service-avoiding leader.
In fact, I am more in line with David Corn, who calls the Times' ''timid."
what if everyday it had a box on the front page listing all the attacks and bombing within Iraq the previous day? Reuters keeps (and posts) such a list. Anyone who read this sort of roster on a daily basis would have a tough time accepting Bush and Dick Cheney's never-ending claims that progress is being made. Or what if the Times—as it did with the victims of 9/11—printed profiles of every U.S. soldier killed in Iraq, placing one a day on the front page? Such a reminder of the cost being paid might well undermine the war effort by causing more people to question the value of this military venture. Or what if the newspaper ran a daily account of how much the war is costing, not in blood, but in taxes? (Representative Jack Murtha, the Democrat hawk who turned against the war, recently put the tab at $450 billion and noted this was $445 billion more than the cost of the first Gulf War.)
There's plenty more the paper can do to discredit Bush. It often treads lightly when the president or the vice president says something untrue. Two weeks ago, Dick Cheney claimed in an interview that there were 250,000 Iraqi soldiers "now in uniform, equipped, trained, in the fight." That was a whopper. In February, the Pentagon noted that the number of Iraqi battalions ready to fight on their own was zero. (The Defense Department then stopped releasing figures on the battle readiness of Iraqi security forces). After Cheney made those remarks about the Iraqi military, did the Times rush out a front-page article reporting that the vice president was misleading the public about the centerpiece of the administration's Iraq policy? No. Keller missed another chance to deal a blow to the administration's war on terrorism.
As Corn concludes, those who believe that the Times is a hotbed of anti-Bushism don't read. I would go further. I would say they they're blind, or LittleGreenNutballers.
Mary Mapes, who lost her job at CBS in the wake of the Sept. 2004 60 Minutesblogostorm over Preznit George W. Bush's National Guard service record (or lack of it or however you want to interpret his comings and going during a war in which 50,000 -- mostly -- draftees were killed), has a vigorous defence of Dan Rather here today. (I added some links.)
That first anonymous analyst (who turned out to be a Republican activist lawyer) raised questions about the memo using only a single shot of a faxed document digitally transmitted to his computer screen. Those kinds of transmissions radically change the way a document looks. His analysis was worthless.
The laundry list of problems that critics claimed they saw in the memos has turned out to be bunk. There never has been any definitive proof that they were forged or falsified in any way, despite a multi-million dollar investigation into the story by Viacom. The reasons we put them on the air remain valid: the content of the memos was corroborated by people familiar with Bush, his unit and his commander; the dates, times and details intricately matched what we know of the record; and two experienced and respected document analysts, who examined copies that had not been faxed or digitally recreated, concluded that the papers showed every indication of being real.
I don't believe we will know the truth about the memos until after the Bush team is out of office and people with information are no longer afraid to come forward.
Viacom, CBS's parent company, never did care whether the story was true or not. They just wanted rid of it. Among other things, they had multiple issues pending before the FCC and various other arms of the administration and our story was no help to the company in its quest to squeeze every last dime out of what used to be the public airwaves. Firing longtime employees in an attempt to get back into the administration's good graces was simply a business decision. It had nothing to do with journalism or the crucial role that critical reporting is supposed to play in American democracy.
Amazing how, after all these years, and all the lies, and how low Bush has sunk in the polls, the MSM still won't touch the fundamental story.
Meanwhile, the geniuses at National Review Online offer this for intelligent criticism.
Keep watching the skies, Mary. The truth is out there.
I will get to the coverage of the Toronto terrorism arrests later today but I had to draw your attention to this explosive piece in the latest issue of Vanity Fair. The War They Wanted, The Lies They Needed is long, thousands and thousands of words long, and it is complicated, but Craig Unger has produced bang-up journalism in tracking down the ''black propaganda'' campaign around the supposed attempts by Saddam Hussein to acquire yellowcake urnaium from Niger. This is a tale of forgery, international collusion, media manipulation, political conspiracy and, of course, outright and outrageous lies to the world.
In last-minute negotiations between the White House and the C.I.A., a decision was made to attribute the alleged Niger uranium deal to British intelligence. The official reason was that it was preferable to cite British intelligence, which Blair had championed in his 50-page report, rather than classified American intelligence. But the C.I.A. had told the White House again and again that it didn't trust the British reports.
The British, meanwhile, have repeatedly claimed to have other sources, but they have refused to identify them. According to Joseph Wilson, that refusal is a violation of the U.N. resolution stipulating that member states must share with the International Atomic Energy Agency all information they have on prohibited nuclear programs in Iraq. "The British say they cannot share the information, because it comes from a third-country intelligence source," says Wilson. "But that third country is presumably a member of the United Nations, and it too should comply with Article 10 of United Nations Resolution 1441." So far, Wilson says, no evidence of a third country has come to light.
A week after Bush's speech, on February 4 (2003), the Bush administration finally forwarded electronic copies of the Niger documents to the I.A.E.A. Astonishingly, a note was attached to the documents which said, "We cannot confirm these reports and have questions regarding some specific claims."
On March 7, the I.A.E.A. publicly exposed the Niger documents as forgeries. Not long afterward, Cheney was asked about it on Meet the Press. He said that the I.A.E.A. was wrong, that it had "consistently underestimated or missed what it was Saddam Hussein was doing." He added, "We know [Saddam] has been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons."
Excerpting anything from this does not even begin to do Unger's work justice. So settle in and read the whole thing.