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:: Friday, July 23, 2004 ::

CIA officer named prior to column -

Man, Fitzgerald has to have the goods on someone important. Check out this lame defense:
However, officials said the disclosure that Mrs. Plame's cover was blown before the news column undermines the prosecution of the government official who might have revealed the name, officials said.

'The law says that to be covered by the act the intelligence community has to take steps to affirmatively protect someone's cover,' one official said. 'In this case, the CIA failed to do that.'

A second official, however, said the compromises before the news column were not publicized and thus should not affect the investigation of the Plame matter.
Seriously, that's their "argument". If -- and this is a big if -- you take the Times article at face value, it appears that two nations (Russian and Cuba) knew Plame was NOC. Therefore, because two nations found out (the Russians by spying, and the Cubans because they got their hands on CIA documents for some reason) the CIA wasn't "affirmatively protecting" Plame's cover, ERGO, the law couldn't have been broken.

Man, that's one hell of a lame defense. I think the tax-avoiders have a better legal case than that.

   Of course, this isn't really a surprise. It's obvious Plame was NOC -- if she wasn't NOC, then no crime could possibly have been committed, therefore no investigation would occur. If she wasn't NOC, then Fitzgerald's investigation would make as much sense as empaneling a grand jury to investigate the murder of the guy currently on the stand.

   Unlike murder (where you've got some lovely options available, like "Self-defense" and "insanity"), outing a CIA agent has relatively few defenses. Novak has one (he's a journalist, so he's free to blab once someone told him), but there really aren't any others. Somewhere, someone with clearance to know Plame's status told someone who didn't have it. That person committed a felony, one with serious jail time (up to ten years).

  That person -- or persons, if several were involved -- are undoubtedly desperate, and they're clutching at straws now.

:: Morat 11:21 AM :: ::

So, here's the question of the year....

When did conservatives turn into giant babies?:
What had been a mellow evening at Wente Vineyards, with the crowd even serenading her with 'Happy Birthday' at one point, turned into a rush for the exits by some fans angry by her encore tribute to filmmaker Michael Moore.
'She just had to do it,' one fan steamed as he headed for the parking lot. 'It was good until the end,' another yelled to TV crews waiting outside the concert.

'She's getting out of line; it's ridiculous,' said Cindy Williams of Livermore, as she left during the last song of the evening.
Ronstadt's encore dedication of the song 'Desperado' to Moore, the controversial maker of 'Fahrenheit 9/11' who she described Thursday as 'a great American patriot,' got her booted from a Las Vegas casino Saturday and drew cheers, some boos, and a few 'traitor' yells from the Livermore crowd.
Seriously, what the fuck? "She's getting out of line" because she dedicated a song to Michael Moore?

You'd think she'd bitten the head off a live baby. Nope. Turns out she merely dedicated a song to a guy she liked. Big fucking deal. I mean, let's lay aside the stupidity of complaining that a singer, you know, said or did something she didn't okay with you first -- no mean feat that -- it's Linda Ronstadt. What were you expecting?

When did conservatives become big whiny victims? "Oh my, oh no, I went to listen to Linda Ronstadt sing and she just ruined it by, you know, saying something I didn't like. Also, she didn't clear the set with me, and I'm personally upset that she didn't cover this Sting song I like...."


For the record: I've seen in the crowd when an entertainer I liked made a political comment that did not sit well with me -- or from the sounds of it -- a lot of the crowd. You know what we didn't do? Throw a big whiny fit. Because we didn't give a shit who he chose to dedicate a song to, or what he thought of the current President. But it was his damn show, and he got to say what he wanted.

Such is life. And if you're not up to handling a mere entertainer mentioning things you don't want to hear, I suggest you either find another place for you money, or a nation with a more draconian approach to speech-control. Perhaps Iran would fit you.

   Fucking whiners. (Seriously, I think the cursing is done now. But who gets that upset at a dedication? My seven year old has a better sense of proportion than that.)

:: Morat 11:13 AM :: ::

Our Forgotten Panic

Shorter Richard Cohen: Terrorists scare me, and I thought beating up on Hussein would make me feel better.

I doubt he'll ever admit how he was played. He'd prefer to ascribe the rush to war as "collective panic" and spread the blame across the United States.

Bullshit, Richard. I didn't lose my head. Those millions marching against Bush's little war didn't lose their head. It's not like terrorism didn't scare us. We just didn't let Bush play our fears like a violin.

Don't blame me for your mistakes.

:: Morat 8:19 AM :: ::

:: Thursday, July 22, 2004 ::

On sock stuffing..

  For my money, I think the GOP is really missing the boat with the "sock-stuffing" charge. See, it's not finding a lot of traction because most people realize it's not exactly easy (or "inconspicuous") to stuff even one regular-sized piece of paper into your sock.

  And that's leading to complex questions like "So how the hell did he stuff it in his sock? How come it didn't fall out, or at least make a highly unusual buldge in his pants leg? Was he wearing cowboy boots? He doesn't look like the cowboy boot type to me. My brother-in-law fits an entire bottle of Jack Daniels in his boots, but even he can't pull off the papers-in-the-sock thing. Why wouldn't he just put them in his folder, since no one was checking? Why bother with the socks? Did they mean he put notecards in his socks? Why? What was wrong with his pockets? I mean, you'd need a lot of notecards to fill up your pockets, especially if you tend to be a suit-and-tie sort of guy like Berger. Big pockets on suit jackets, you know..."

  See, that's a distraction.  It's moving away from the "BERGER EVIL! BERGER BAD! BUSH SMASH! BUSH NOW THINK PLAME NO BIG DEAL!" kind of storyline and into the realm of "This doesn't make sense....".

   See, with the aid of the media (who really can't say "no" to a properly-timed massive series of leaks and a potential scandal, the poor sluts) the public isn't really going to wonder about the difference between "originals" or "copies", or why Berger would take reports he commissioned on a Clinton success or any other relevant questions. But they will wonder about the socks.

   Because if the American public knows one thing, it's socks. And they know that, really, it's hard to smuggle papers out in your socks. So this is a problem. But luckily, I have a solution!

   Here's what you do. Drop the socks. Claim you misspoke. See, what Berger was really doing was shoving the papers into the top of his thigh high stockings, stripper style. Americans know all about how many papers you can stuff in a stocking top, and it makes Berger look even more guilty. I mean, make the guy a crossdresser and you'll really kill his street cred.

    Seriously. I'm looking at you O'Reilly, and you Rove. You've got to push this "Berger is a transvestite document-thief" angle before this whole thing blows over.

:: Morat 1:45 PM :: ::

Whoops. Look like Ohio is a swing state again...

I guess this means that someone is going to have to break their promise to deliver Ohio to Bush. Ohio just decertified Diebold's machines.

Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell today halted deployment of Diebold Election Systems' electronic voting devices in Ohio for the 2004 General Election. The decision is based on preliminary findings from the secretary of state's second round of security testing conducted by Compuware Corporation showing the existence of previously identified, but yet unresolved security issues. Hardin, Lorain and Trumbull counties had selected to use new Diebold equipment this November. Those counties will use their current voting devices in 2004.

"As I made clear last year, I will not place these voting devices before Ohio?s voters until identified risks are corrected," Blackwell said. "Diebold Election Systems has successfully addressed many, but not all, of the problems that were identified in our first security review. The lack of comprehensive resolution prevents me from giving county boards of elections a green light for this November."

:: Morat 7:59 AM :: ::

One of these things is not like the others...

I can only conclude, from the opening paragraphs, that the FBI has liberal bias:
President Bush on Wednesday described the federal inquiry into Clinton White House national security adviser Sandy Berger's mishandling of classified documents as 'a very serious matter.'

Meanwhile, the FBI did not consider the incident to be a major threat to national security, a government official said.

Also Wednesday, the House Government Reform Committee announced it would launch a separate investigation into the matter.
Obviously, the FBI is too blinded by their partisan desires to note the severity of the crime. Only the political neutral White House and House Government Reform Committee see the real crime.

Don't you hate it when those liberal nutjobs at the FBI starting going on about what is, and is not, a "major threat to national security". They should do their jobs and not get involved in politics....

More seriously, it's been fun to watch. I've seen several people try to equate deliberately burning a CIA operative with taking copies (the consensus appears to be firm that no originals were lost, and the 9/11 committee saw everything) of an after-action report and losing some of them. Not, you know, handing them to the Chinese (who, while they'd probably be happy to know how we're handling terrorism, were surely more delighted to work out how we were hiding the people we used to ferret out WMD programs...) or anything.

:: Morat 7:38 AM :: ::

:: Wednesday, July 21, 2004 ::

A lesson in skepticism

  So I sit down this morning and my coworker (a young fellow and -- sadly -- Republican, and a very smart fellow with a nice degree from MIT) brightly informs me "They found 3 nuclear missiles in Iraq!" to which I responded "I sincerely doubt it".

   He looks at me quizzically and asks "Why?".

   Where to start?

   I mean, seriously, how stupid do you have to be to believe that at this point? When our tanks were still rolling in, there'd be WMD finds every hour it seemed like -- all false. Then there were frequent claims of how Kay was uncovering "programs" and the occasional "WMD found!" claim -- all false.

    After over a year, we've found, what, a dozen mustard gas shells dating back over twenty years? If that?

    No nuclear programs, no missile programs, no drone programs, no chemical and biological programs (other than Zarqawi's ricin factory, in Kurd-controlled Iraq), no nothing.  Let's not even start with the fact that it's practically impossible to hide an active nuclear program....

    And this guy believes Saddam had three nuclear tipped missiles? Assuming he managed -- no mean feat -- to build or purchase nukes. And then managed -- another difficult feat -- to hide them from Blix. Then he hid them from Kay, after we took control of the country. And then he even kept their location secret after we captured him.

   What was he waiting for, exactly? To set them off during his trial? By means of magic?

   But forget that: Why missiles? Why would Saddam put them on missiles? I mean, we keep some of our nukes on missiles....the ICBM type that can hit any city in the world. But we've got lots of nukes and -- not to put to fine a point on it -- ICBM's. Saddam's best missile wasn't exactly a threat to anyone but his neighbors. So why would he store -- and if it was buried underground, it wasn't "ready to fire" three nukes on missiles? Wouldn't it be easier to hide the nukes separately? I mean, I'm not a mad dictator, but I'd think hiding the payload would be a lot easier than hiding the missile.

   Especially if I realized that U-hauls and cargo containers were better than missiles. No return address.

    But my coworker waved all that away. He was sure they'd found nukes. Probably still is.

    PT Barnum would have loved this guy.

:: Morat 1:22 PM :: ::

:: Tuesday, July 20, 2004 ::

FBI Probes Berger for Document Removal

The Washington Post latest on the Berger mess seems to come down pretty firmly on the "It's a distraction" side. Among other things, they note that Berger hasn't been interviewed by the FBI (despite offering to cooperate), that he returned most of the documents -- without prompting -- last October, and that the FBI has Berger listed as a "subject" and not a "target" of a criminal probe. (As best I understand it, they're in the "We're not sure if it was a crime, much less one worth prosecuting" stage). Most tellingly, the Post talks about the "missing documents" themselves :
The missing copies, according to Breuer and their author, Richard A. Clarke, the counterterrorism chief in the Clinton administration and early in President Bush's administration, were versions of after-action reports recommending changes following threats of terrorism as 1999 turned to 2000. Clarke said he prepared about two dozen ideas for countering terrorist threats. The recommendations were circulated among Cabinet agencies, and various versions of the memo contained additions and refinements, Clarke said last night.
Breuer said that Clarke had prepared a 'tough review' and that the document was something of a critical assessment of what agencies did well and what they failed to do in the face of the millennium threat.

Clarke said it is illogical to assume Berger would have sought to hide versions of the memo, because 'everybody in town had copies of these things.' He said he could not recall most of the recommendations, but one that he did remember -- having FBI field offices send wiretap material to Washington for translation instead of translating it locally -- still has not been accomplished.
So, basically put, for this to have any teeth, not only do you have to believe Berger had a reason to cover up the successful foiling of the Millennium Plots, but also that Berger was stupid enough to assume the National Archives had the only copies.

:: Morat 12:09 PM :: ::

Clinton Aide Regrets 'Sloppiness' Over 9/11 Documents

I was browsing through the Berger mess trying to make sense of it. One thing struck me as important: There is a great deal of confusion over whether Berger took copies or originals. That's kind of a vital point, I think. Now, there are nefarious reasons one might want to take the original of a document (although you'd have to be sure no copies existed anywhere else) but the only reason I can think of for deliberately taking a copy would be CYA-related. You know, if you suspected someone might be misrepresenting what that document stated, you'd have a copy to leak to the press...

Until it's cleared up whether Berger took copies or originals, and which of either he hasn't already returned, there's not much to do besides speculate -- and idle speculation is more likely to be fueled by partisan wishes than actual facts. So, until some detail emerges, I'm going to mark this one as "developing". (Hey, if it's good enough for Insty....)

On a related note: Isn't the timing amazing? Right before the 9/11 release, even though this has been known for months. A poster at Kos noted that CNN claimed that three seperate members of the Bush-Cheney campaign leaked this to them. The 9/11 report must be nasty....and somehow I doubt Berger's story -- even if he did abscond with originals (and assuming the 9/11 panel never saw the documents) -- is going to drown out the 9/11 release.
And one more thing: Does "stuffed them into his pants and jackets" mean "stuffed them into his pants and jacket pockets" or "stuffed them down his pants and inside his jacket". The first seems a fairly normal way to carry notes. The latter is more like trying to steal porn from 7/11. I can imagine National Archives officials (who supposedly noted this behavior) overlooking the former, but I can't imagine why they'd let Berger walk out if they'd seen him do the later....

Update: Josh Marshall notes that the time really does stink. Apparently, the FBI was asked in six months ago and hasn't even gotten to the "Interview Berger" stage. To me, that seems to suggest that he probably didn't take originals (that would have been a much bigger issue) and that there's no real sense of hurry.

:: Morat 9:05 AM :: ::

Bush vows to keep searching for Iran link to September 11

And if there are direction connections, what are you going to do about it, putz?
Despite CIA scepticism, President George Bush says the US is investigating whether Iran played any role in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

'As to direct connections ... we're digging into the facts to determine if there was one,' Mr Bush said on Monday.
Huh? What on earth are we going to do? Send a strongly worded letter of protest?

It's about all we can do, you moron. The Army is gone. Used up. Busy. Even if they pulled out of Iraq today, the election would be over before they'd be ready to deploy.

I suppose you could drop a few bombs, but let's face it, Georgie: You only get the one war. You wasted it, so I suggest you spend your time coming up with a good excuse in case you do find a real "evildoer" somewhere.

:: Morat 8:50 AM :: ::

:: Monday, July 19, 2004 ::

PM admits graves claim 'untrue'

Okay, I'm officially with Jon Stewart here:
Downing Street has admitted to The Observer that repeated claims by Tony Blair that '400,000 bodies had been found in Iraqi mass graves' is untrue, and only about 5,000 corpses have so far been uncovered.
Apparently, "intelligence" can be it's own oxymoron.

Although the fact that certain leaders were exaggerating the intelligence didn't help....
Not that I'm advocating even tiny graves here, it's just that I've gotten to the point where I'm wondering if anything Bush or Blair said prior to the war was true or unembellished. Was there anything true in what they said? Or was it all lies and massive embellishment?

:: Morat 9:01 AM :: ::

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