Saturday, July 30, 2005

This was the FBI that Deep Throat was defending

Judge LAURENCE H. SILBERMAN writes this in the 20 July 2005 Wall Street Journal:

We told the [House Judiciary] committee that the bureau had sought, at the direction of a political figure, to gather unfavorable information on his opponent during an election campaign. Rep. Herman Badillo of New York pressed me to admit that it was an investigation of Allard Lowenstein, an antiwar candidate running against Rep. John Rooney, the powerful chairman of an appropriations panel with jurisdiction over the FBI. I repeatedly denied that and finally said it involved the presidential campaign of 1964. Shortly thereafter, Don Edwards, the chairman, terminated the hearing. But reporters dug out more facts.

Only a few weeks before the 1964 election, a powerful presidential assistant, Walter Jenkins, was arrested in a men's room in Washington. Evidently, the president was concerned that Barry Goldwater would use that against him in the election. Another assistant, Bill Moyers, was tasked to direct Hoover to do an investigation of Goldwater's staff to find similar evidence of homosexual activity. Mr. Moyers' memo to the FBI was in one of the files
.

(HT: Irish Pennants)

Mark Felt's ghost writer offered another story in the same vein:

Contrary to legend, J. Edgar and Richard M. thoroughly disliked each other, though they kept their feelings under wraps. Following his usual custom of trying to keep new presidents off-balance. Hoover sent Mark Felt to investigate trumped-up charges by political gossip columnist Jack Anderson that John Ehrlichman, a Nixon adviser, was a homosexual. Ehrlichman was cleared, but from that moment Felt had him in his pocket, and the president had it in for Felt.

When Hoover died, Felt served for one day as acting director. But when it was suggested that Felt take over Hoover's job, Nixon was emphatically against it. Felt was "a bad guy," Nixon said. "I don't want him. I want a fellow in there that is not part of the old guard." Instead, he appointed L. Patrick Gray III, a Justice Department official. When the scandal began to build, Bob Haldeman, Nixon's chief of staff, complained, "the FBI is not under control because Pat Gray doesn't exactly know how to control it." Felt was running the investigation, and it was "leading into some productive areas" and getting much too close to home. Every thing that FBI agents were turning up was in Felt's hands. Moreover, Haldeman suspected, and he was correct, that Ehrlichman was reporting White House cover-up activities to Felt, and he had been told that Felt was leaking to the Washington Post and to Time
.


Sure, this is old news; we all know that the FBI under Hoover collected reams of information for blackmail. But it is worth remembering that it was precisely this sordid FBI culture that Mark Felt wanted to preserve.

Hoover's capacity for blackmail was wholly a function of the press's love of anonymous leaks. Most of the information in those confidential files was useless for law enforcement or intelligence work. Hoover's victims did not fear arrest: they feared seeing their dirty laundry splashed across the front page of a newspaper. The FBI could always find some "investigative journalist" who was willing to accept their leak and run with a hot story. That their source was breaking the law seemed not to trouble them at all.

This is just one more reason why a blanket shield law for journalists is a bad idea. They "protect the slimiest type of bureaucratic infighter when our goal should be to expose them as the scum they are.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Back to Watergate

Writing in 1982 Ron Rosenbaum offered an interesting hypothesis for Deep Throat's refusal to come forward:
One possible explanation of the silence of Throat … is that if Throat were, like Peterson or Glanzer, part of the Justice Department prosecution team, the disclosure of his identity might give all the Watergate felons cause to petition for a reversal of the verdicts on the grounds of prosecutorial misconduct.

Now that we know Felt was Woodward's source, we also know that he had even better reasons to stay hidden. But Rosenbaum's point is still a good one. Lost in the debate about Felt's "higher duty" to protect the FBI, is the possibility that he was violating the rights of criminal defendants.

Very few anonymous leakers reveal governmental wrongdoing on the scale of Watergate. Sadly, interference with due process is much more common. I noted one egregious case here. Richard Jewell certainly was a victim of this sort of game. Wen Ho Lee and Steven Hatfill may be two other examples.

In these cases, shield laws do not protect the public from official misconduct. Quite the opposite. Because reporters can protect their governmental sources, shield laws make it impossible to punish officials who violate court-ordered gag-rules or who spread misinformation that can taint the jury pool.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

I'm glad there is no real news to report

Did the Chandra Levy madness of 2001 ever reach the heights of absurdity we now see in Aruba?

The spectacle of three news networks doing hourly updates on the water level of a pond is mind-boggling. And they say bloggers are obsessed with trivia.
Homeland Security and "pork barrel spending"

Rich Lowry recently wrote a shallow and smug column on homeland security spending. Lowry disagrees with the way the money is allocated to communities. In fact, he is so certain that he knows how than money should be spent( all in NYC and other big cities) that he thinks any divergence from his "plan" is nothing more than wasteful "pork barrel spending."

Lowry's certainty is anchored on just two ideas. First, population is the best measure of risk. Second, all the homeland security money should spent to high risk/high value targets. Implicitly, Lowry believes that money spent in the heartland is money wasted.

There are those who disagree. Richard Clarke, for instance, wrote a long article for the Atlantic a few months ago that was an extended scenario on future terrorism. Clarke believes that al Qaeda is likely to hit soft targets in the heartland (shopping malls, casinos) in their next wave of attacks. It is not so much that Lowry disagrees with Clarke, it is that he in no way considers Clarke's arguments for even an instant.

Worse, Lowry never mentions Beslan. How could he? The attack on the school in that remote town demonstrates that his smug "spend it in New York" prescriptions are out of touch with the realities of the global WoT.

He also seems unaware that high value targets can be found in low population areas. Railroads, pipelines, and chemical plants are all potential sites for an attack. There is no inherent reason why terrorists must attack these targets only in urban areas.

Rural areas face special challenges when it comes to potential attacks. They have limited law enforcement and disaster resources because they are generally low crime areas. A terrorist event, however, would stretch those resources past the breaking point. Unlike New York or Chicago, they do not have tens of thousands of LEOs and firemen to deploy if the worst happens. Nor do they have specialized equipment on hand or close-by. There are thousands of communities where the firemen are all volunteers and where bingo pays for the new fire equipment.

This does not mean that there is no waste in homeland security spending. Finding it, however, takes more research and analysis than Lowry is willing to devote to the subject.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Good article on the perils of profiling

I hate to say it, but Michelle Malkin is dead wrong on the ethnic profiling issue. This post explains why.

Profiling can also blind you to threats outside the profile. If U.S. border guards stop and search everyone who’s young, Arab, and male, they’re not going to have the time to stop and search all sorts of other people, no matter how hinky they might be acting.
And this

Despite what many people think, terrorism is not confined to young Arab males. Shoe-bomber Richard Reid was British. Germaine Lindsay, one of the 7/7 London bombers, was Afro-Caribbean. Here are some more examples:

In 1986, a 32-year-old Irish woman, pregnant at the time, was about to board an El Al flight from London to Tel Aviv when El Al security agents discovered an explosive device hidden in the false bottom of her bag. The woman’s boyfriend--the father of her unborn child--had hidden the bomb
.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

I'm glad someone said it

I do not mean the following to be a judgement on her in any way. She is like so many parents who just wish their children to be happy and have fun while they are young. I understand that. Perhaps I am paranoid. But with the world as it is today, I would no more let my 18 yr old go off to a tropical island with a bunch of friends than I would let him drive off a cliff.
from Rightwingsparkle

Monday, July 25, 2005

Still suspicious

Edward Jay Epstein finds some aspects of the Felt revelations just a little too convenient.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Plame/Wilson

The Junk Yard Blog looks at some of the ex-CIA-types who are pouring fuel on the get-Rove fire. It makes for interesting reading. I wish some enterprising journalist or Congressman had the guts to follow-up on JYB's leads.

Speaking of which, most of these questions are still unasked by the MSM.

This from the Powerline archives still makes interesting reading.
The media's curveball

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Welcome Galley Slaves readers

Unfortunately, most of this blog is neither funny nor about movies. But you owe it to yourself to check out this post.

And if you want a taste of the real Lead and Gold blog, start here.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Most important lesson of the day

It's buried in a short post on movies. Trust me, you'll know it when you read it.
Wow, i agree with John Dean

Rove must have had "authorized access to classified information" under the statute. Plame was an NCO (non-covered officer). White House aides, and even the president, are seldom, if ever, given this information. So it is not likely Rove had "authorized access" to it.
Found here.

If Plame was really covert, someone had to break the rules to reveal that classified information to Rove-- someone inside CIA or close to Plame. Rove, on his own, had no access to information about covert CIA employees. I tried to make that point last week here.
Wonkette's secret life

Who knew that Wonkette was an actress? Pictures cannot lie, can they?

Compare here

to here and here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Interesting activity for a "covert operative"

From the Jamuary 2004 Vanity Fair profile of Joe Wilson (found here):
In early May [2003], Wilson and Plame attended a conference sponsored by the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, at which Wilson spoke about Iraq; one of the other panelists was the New York Times journalist Nicholas Kristof. Over breakfast the next morning with Kristof and his wife, Wilson told about his trip to Niger and said Kristof could write about it, but not name him. At this point what he wanted, Wilson says, was for the government to correct the record. "I felt that on issues as important to our whole society as sending our sons and daughters to kill and die for our national security we as a society and our government have a responsibility to our people to ensure that the debate is carried out in a way that reflects the solemnity of the decision being taken," he says.
I've always thought the Wilson to Kristof to Miller path was a pretty good explanation for how Miller learned about Plame's CIA job.
Not sure this is how it is supposed to work

A mother discovers that the handyman at her trailer park is a registered sex offender via the Pennsylvania version of Megan's Law. She sets out to warn other residents. The owner of the park commences eviction proceedings against the mother.

The story here.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Now that's an understatement


Duncan's defense attorneys have thankless job
COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — The two public defenders of convicted sex offender Joseph Edward Duncan III have a thankless job in a community where many are baying for Duncan's blood
.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Joe Wilson's carefully calibrated '"courage"

Originally posted on Tuesday, July 20, 2004

For a year Amb. Wilson reveled in his persona as a courageous truth-teller who stood up to power and then warned the American people about the lies of the neocons. The factual case he presented in his book and in interviews has been shredded beyond repair. Less discussed is the curious timing of his courageous stand.

The New York Times op-ed that ignited the firestorm over "the 16 words" appeared on 6 July 2003. This was months after the SOTU speech where the words appeared.

Most importantly, it was after the war, after the capture of KSM, and after the Coalition called off the intense search for WMDs. Wilson knew that he was unlikely to be refuted by captured stockpiles or documents.

A courageous, public-spirited man who was certain that he really had debunked the case for war in 2002 would have gone public before the war. That way he might have prevented a grievous mistake by the government.

Evidence of opportunism? Certainly, and no great surprise. But it also suggests that Wilson was less certain of his conclusions in March 2003 than he now pretends he was.
Well, that's one way to get a gig with the network

The court also strongly rebuked then-prosecutor Nancy Grace -- now host of Court TV's "Closing Arguments" -- of engaging in "inappropriate and, in some cases, illegal conduct in the course of the trial."

This included, Carr's appeal said, an illegal search of Carr's home to allow one of Grace's expert witnesses to view the crime scene and allowing, before the trial, a CNN television crew to enter Carr's home while filming a feature on her
.
Article here.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Plame, Rove, and Cover

If we are to believe the anti-Rove hardliners, KR found out that Valerie Plame was a covert operative at CIA because he had access to classified material at the White House. It does not seem reasonable, however, to think that the name of a covert operative would be in a written report sent to the White House. That's what code names are for.

To go farther, the CIA officer would never be the source of intelligence; they would merely be the conduit. The source would be the spy, electronic bug, or loquacious bureaucrat that produced the information. Hence, the NSC might receive a top-secret report that stated that HIGHBALL, an Iraqi general in Basra, had reported that no sarin gas labs were in his city. It would be absurd for that report to say that HIGHBALL reported this information to Linda Smith a CIA officer who operated under cover as Penny Jones a German archeologist.

So it is with Plame. It does not make sense that CIA sent over material to the White House that identified her as a covert agent. Yet, if they did not share such information with the White House, then it is hard to see how Rove could have broken the law or done anything immoral.
Everything bloggy must converge

In this post, I noted that one reason the Watergate cover-up received all the attention (as opposed to the burglary itself) was that only Nixon could direct an Oval Office cover-up. By focusing on that crime, the media and Congress could keep Nixon, and only Nixon, in their sights. I think the same thing is happening to Karl Rove in the Plame/Wilson matter.

Right now, the only question the MSM is interested in is did Rove use the words "Wilson", "wife", and "CIA" in a sentence spoken to reporters? The press corps acts as if the answer, in and of itself, is a modern day smoiking gun. They completely ignore the equally critical question-"did Rove learn about Plame from a classified source?" If Plame's employer was an open secret among reporters and pundits, then Rove did nothing wrong.

In fact, I do not think that Rove could have known about Plame from classified sources if she was really covert. Her identity, in that case, would never show up in any document sent outside CIA.

There is another interesting Watergate parallel. In his book Secret Agenda, Jim Hougan argued that the press missed a blockbuster story in Watergate: widespread domestic spying operations conducted by CIA. In his view, Nixon failed in his attempt to use CIA to stop the FBI investigation. OTOH, CIA was successful in using the Plumbers as a cover for their own (illegal) domestic activities and then managed to deflect investigators away from their operations and onto Liddy, Dean, Mitchell, and Nixon. In Plame/Wilson, the ignored question has been the role of Plame and her co-workers in feeding misleading information to the press and into the intelligence stream.

Right now Washington is obsessed over what Rove said and whom he said it to. It might also be useful to find out what Wilson said to Pincus, Judis, and Kristof about Plame and if she spoke to anyone else in the MSM.
Rove/Plame/Wilson

Irish Pennants

Byron York

Volokh

Calblog

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Here's a perspective that you won't hear on CNN

Enoch Powell vindicated

In 1968, the British Tory MP Enoch Powell made a prescient speech about the dangers of mass immigration to Britain that has been infinitely denounced ever since, although never disproved.


Denounced but not disproved. Powell was not the last iconoclast to receive such treatment. How did this become the standard debating style among our chattering classes?
Priceless

Lorie Byrd at PoliPundit on that dangerous DC gang the White House Press:

Big Tough Guys With Perfectly Coifed Hair

They sounded a bit like playground bullies, but ones with too meticulously styled hair and a little too much whine in their voices and prissy shoulder and hand motions to come across as exactly tough guys.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Plame/Wilson

PoliPundit: "Big Tough Guys With Perfectly Coifed Hair"

Cliff Kincaid: "Why Judith Miller Should Stay In Jail"

Junk Yard Blog: "A FIRST-CLASS SNAFU"

Also, here is a possible outing that the MSM does not have time for:

"Richardson could take prominent position in Wen Ho Lee lawsuit"

And just to keep the story straight and to help the MSM with their long-term memory problem, this is what Susan Schmidt wrote about in Wilson and Plame in the the Washington Post on Saturday, July 10, 2004:

Former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, dispatched by the CIA in February 2002 to investigate reports that Iraq sought to reconstitute its nuclear weapons program with uranium from Africa, was specifically recommended for the mission by his wife, a CIA employee, contrary to what he has said publicly.

Wilson last year launched a public firestorm with his accusations that the administration had manipulated intelligence to build a case for war. He has said that his trip to Niger should have laid to rest any notion that Iraq sought uranium there and has said his findings were ignored by the White House.

Wilson's assertions -- both about what he found in Niger and what the Bush administration did with the information -- were undermined yesterday in a bipartisan Senate intelligence committee report.

The panel found that Wilson's report, rather than debunking intelligence about purported uranium sales to Iraq, as he has said, bolstered the case for most intelligence analysts. And contrary to Wilson's assertions and even the government's previous statements, the CIA did not tell the White House it had qualms about the reliability of the Africa intelligence that made its way into 16 fateful words in President Bush's January 2003 State of the Union address
.

Monday, July 11, 2005

9/11 Report and US sleeper cells

In light of the atrocity in London, this section of the 9/11 Commission's report is a cause for grave concern:
7.1 FIRST ARRIVALS IN CALIFORNIA
In chapter 5 we described the Southeast Asia travels of Nawaf al Hazmi, Khalid al Mihdhar, and others in January 2000 on the first part of the "planes operation." In that chapter we also described how Mihdhar was spotted in Kuala Lumpur early in January 2000, along with associates who were not identified, and then was lost to sight when the group passed through Bangkok. On January 15, Hazmi and Mihdhar arrived in Los Angeles. They spent about two weeks there before moving on to San Diego.1

Two Weeks in Los Angeles
Why Hazmi and Mihdhar came to California, we do not know for certain. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), the organizer of the planes operation, explains that California was a convenient point of entry from Asia and had the added benefit of being far away from the intended target area.2

Hazmi and Mihdhar were ill-prepared for a mission in the United States. Their only qualifications for this plot were their devotion to Usama Bin Ladin, their veteran service, and their ability to get valid U.S. visas. Neither had spent any substantial time in the West, and neither spoke much, if any, English.3

It would therefore be plausible that they or KSM would have tried to identify, in advance, a friendly contact for them in the United States. In detention, KSM denies that al Qaeda had any agents in Southern California. We do not credit this denial.4 We believe it is unlikely that Hazmi and Mihdhar-neither of whom, in contrast to the Hamburg group, had any prior exposure to life in the West-would have come to the United States without arranging to receive assistance from one or more individuals informed in advance of their arrival.5

KSM says that though he told others involved in the conspiracy to stay away from mosques and to avoid establishing personal contacts, he made an exception in this case and instructed Hazmi and Mihdhar to pose as newly arrived Saudi students and seek assistance at local mosques. He counted on their breaking off any such relationships once they moved to the East Coast.6 Our inability to ascertain the activities of Hazmi and Mihdhar during their first two weeks in the United States may reflect al Qaeda tradecraft designed to protect the identity of anyone who may have assisted them during that period.
Plame/Wilson

Hoystory: "Rehabilitating Joseph Wilson"

Powerline: "Closing in on Karl"
Carnival

The latest Carnival of the Capitalists is over at Multiple Mentality

Saturday, July 09, 2005

i got nothin' to match this

Just One Minute is still the indispensable blog on Plame/Wilson/Novak/Miller. It has been since the whole scandal started. As an example, check out this post and the comments. If Valerie Plame actually leaked to reporters under the guise of a "CIA analyst" then she had no covert status to protect after her hubby wrote his op-ed.

Ace of Spades just skewers the press for its gullibility in reporting the charges of systematic torture at Gitmo and elsewhere. If this doesn't pique you interest, you must be in a coma.

This is a Penthouse Forum fantasy, not a credible ....charge. This is the sort of fantasy concocted by a sexually-repressed Islamoretard who believes such things are possible in the decadent US.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

"The Set Up"

Edward Jay Epstein writes about Felt, Woodward, and a story they got wrong. As always, a must read. Epstein has forgotten more about the press and Watergate than the average journalism professor will ever know.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Carnival of the capitalists

The latest roundup of econ and business blogging is up at KC's blog.
Our story so far

For nearly a month, I've been posting on Watergate. It's not really an obsession. It just turned out that it was surprisingly easy to demonstrate that the popular history of Watergate is flawed as well as superficial. It was simple to show that:

1. The press relinquished its objectivity to get the scoops only John Dean could provide and that they were exploited by Dean to smear L. Patrick Gray. In doing so, their "first draft" of Watergate history was seriously flawed.

2. Bob Woodward's famous source Deep Throat knowingly provided false information to Woodward. Even when this was made crystal clear, Woodward trusted his source and raced off after phantasms instead of digging deeper into the motives of his source and the true nature of the Watergate conspiracy.

3. The MSM is wholly unwilling to confront the facts of Watergate and its performance during the heady days of 1973. For all the pompous talk about "best obtainable truth", the MSM has been uninterested in taking a critical look at Watergate reporting.

It seems to be fashionable to dismiss Watergate as ancient history and boring. I do not understand that (but then I was a history major.) Watergate is a great study for the problems of investigative journalism precisely because it was long ago. We have a wealth of information of the sort that is not available when we set out to fisk this morning's headlines.

What Watergate revisionism lacks is a contemporary angle. Proving Woodward made mistakes does little to help George W. Bush. The blogosphere, unfortunately, is hooked on the ephemera churned out by the MSM. Rehabilitating L. Patrick Gray does not help Wolfowitz or hurt Durbin. Charges of bias, ISTM, are usually used as a club to defend one side rather than raise the level of discussion.

Finally, a word about the objective of all this Watergate history: I'm not trying to argue that Nixon was innocent or that he did not deserve impeachment. There was abuses of power and obstruction of justice. RN knew about them and participated in some of them. For that he had to go. The mistakes and hypocrisy of his critics do not justify his actions.

OTOH, Nixon's obvious sins are no reason to cling to a distorted, self-serving version of Watergate history.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Wasted opportunity / looming problem

By all rights, MSNBC should own cable news. They have the marvelous combination of vast resources and low marginal costs. NBC News already has the reporters and producers on staff. Using them on MSNBC is much cheaper than the costs faced by CNN or FNC who have to support their infrastructure with only a cable audience. ISTM that MSNBC should be able to create a quality line-up, draw a large quality audience, and laugh all the way to the bank.

Instead they are mired in third (sometimes fourth place) with a line up that echoes and mimics the Fox/CNN products.

It's a puzzle. Olbermann and Carlson are distinctive personalities. That should be a plus. Their shows are sometimes funny, sometimes insightful. But both shows are fast-paced, knowing, smirky and crowded. Consequently, they are superficial even when they are entertaining. That is, they are distinctive in a way that does nothing to leverage the advantages they should have by being part of NBC.

It is possible that there simply is not a cable audience for quality news programs. Maybe those who want depth go to the internet because TV cannot compete. It probably is true that words on a screen will always do a better job at going deeper than will words spoken by a reporter. A long television story has fewer words than a short magazine piece. Yet we can read the article faster than a reporter can speak her story. Churchill warned that the ear was only one-tenth as powerful as the eye and so, speakers should never attempt the sort of intricate, nuanced arguments possible in a newspaper column.

While all that is true, I am left with an undeniable fact. GE, under Jack Welch and now Jeffrey Immelt, is usually intolerant of excuses that rely on the inevitability of failure due to the unchangeable nature of the marketplace. That just isn't the GE Way of legend, HBS case studies, and Fortune cover stories.

Whatever happened to '#1 or #2' in every market?

MSNBC's failure is a looming problem for NBC and GE. The audience for broadcast news is falling which means that big NBC News infrastructure is becoming a drag on profits. Ideally, MSNBC would pick up the slack by growing its audience and revenue. If they do not do so, GE will have two white elephants on their hands.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Monkey see, monkey do

Cable TV's obsession with a missing person case in Aruba is disappointing on so many levels. It confirms the fact that Fox prime time has become pure tabloid TV with no pretense of aspiring to anything higher. But who can argue with success? Their ratings crush the competition night after night.

What is interesting is that CNN and MSNBC have decided to follow along behind fox. They also devote hundreds of hours to Scott Peterson, Michael Jackson, and Natalee Holloway. If Fox has Greta von Sustren, well, then, CNN must have Nancy Grace while MSNBC settles for Dan Abrams.

Doesn't anyone want to be different? Why are they so sure that there is not an audience out there for real news? Why are they afraid to try to find it?

It is easy to understand cable's obsession with this kind of journalism. These shows are cheap to produce. All you need are a bunch of talking heads who are willing to speculate about stuff they know little about.

It's still a cowardly way to do news.
So what's changed?

Back during the Schiavo case most of the MSM were pretty supportive of the courts. They were certain that a judge in Florida was the best person to decide this matter of life and death.

Suddenly, though, the courts are error prone, out of control, and a threat to freedom. Life and death for a disabled woman is one thing, but confidential sources are important.

Terri Schiavo's parents were somehow wrong for petitioning Congress to redress their grievances and Congress was wrong for responding. It is funny now to see that journalists want that same Congress to write a law to give them rights that an ordinary citizen does not possess.

I wonder if Tom Delay is in any hurry to bring that measure to a vote?

BTW, Beldar just slices the pro-reporter legal arguments to pieces here.