the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

October 6, 2005

This Sounds Promising


From WFAA:

WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors have accepted an offer from presidential adviser Karl Rove to give 11th hour testimony in the case of a CIA officer’s leaked identity but have warned they cannot guarantee he won’t be indicted, according to people directly familiar with the investigation.

The persons, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because of grand jury secrecy, said Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has not made any decision yet on whether to file criminal charges against the longtime confidant of President Bush or others.

Popcorn anyone?

Separated at Birth?


Is it just me, or when you see Judith Miller smiling and talking on TV, are you reminded of Bebe Glazer, the evil agent on Frasier?

(I couldn’t find a photo of Harriet Sansom Harris with the right hairstyle.)

August 4, 2005

Somerby Meltdown


Last week Keith wondered what was going on at the Daily Howler.

I’d like to suggest that Bob Somerby may have been bitten by a rabid dog.

Take for instance this post, where he goes through several right-wing talking points on l’Affaire de Rove, and then rants:

If you don’t want to read what we have to say, don’t! But we hope readers will abandon their feeble impulse to search for our “motives” in presenting this material—to search for reasons why we’d say things like this. We’ve worked much longer and harder—much longer and harder—than you have done on matters like this, and by the way, who was right in March 1999 and every day for twenty months after that, while your fiery heroes stared off into space, putting the current prez in the White House? Given the track record of the past seven years, you don’t have to agree with anything we say, but you might put your “motive” theoretics away. We’ll explain our “motives”—and they’re very high-minded, just as they were when they produced pleasing stories, stories you liked, and you praised us for our fine, lofty values.

Keith, any other possible explanations? If not a rabid dog, maybe he was bitten by Michelle Malkin?

July 27, 2005

Somerby Savages Marshall


Maybe Bob Somerby just finds it hard to dig up real errors by the left when he’s looking for balance. Maybe he’s jealous of Democratic bloggers and lashes out from time to time with criticisms based on ludicrously hyperliteral interpretations of sentences. Who knows? In any case, yesterday Somerby devoted most of his Daily Howler to a long rant about Josh Marshall and what he’s written in Talking Points Memo about Rep. Pat Roberts.

The statement from Marshall that sets him off is this: “On CNN today, Sen. Roberts (R) said Valerie Plame couldn’t be covert since she was working at CIA headquarters at the time her identity was exposed.” Somerby claims that is “baldly inaccurate” and “flat-out wrong”. He then quotes what Roberts actually said (emphasis is Somerby’s):

BLITZER: I ask the question because some are suggesting she really wasn’t under cover any more. She had been working at the CIA in nonproliferation. She really wasn’t a technical—

ROBERTS: There’s a five-year period, OK? And whether or not that five-year period had been reached or not is still questionable. And I must say, from a common sense standpoint, driving back and forth to work to the CIA headquarters, I don’t know if that really qualifies as being, you know, covert.

What is Roberts saying there? Is Marshall’s summary really unfair? Somerby says that Roberts is “plainly” only saying he doesn’t know. Try to believe that Somerby is actually so ignorant of how people use the English language to communicate.

I must say, I don’t know if Somerby really qualifies as being, you know, competent.

Bill Harlow, Watch Your Back


Today’s Washington Post has yet more confirmation that Valerie Plame was covert, this time from former CIA spokesman Bill Harlow, who warned Bob Novak not to identify her:

Harlow, the former CIA spokesman, said in an interview yesterday that he testified last year before a grand jury about conversations he had with Novak at least three days before the column was published. He said he warned Novak, in the strongest terms he was permitted to use without revealing classified information, that Wilson’s wife had not authorized the mission and that if he did write about it, her name should not be revealed.

Harlow said that after Novak’s call, he checked Plame’s status and confirmed that she was an undercover operative. He said he called Novak back to repeat that the story Novak had related to him was wrong and that Plame’s name should not be used. But he did not tell Novak directly that she was undercover because that was classified information.

But what does Harlow know? Surely not as much as a bunch of right-wing pundits and bloggers who have wide experience with Tom Clancy novels. In any case, we can expect to hear in the coming days about how Harlow is a partisan Democrat, voted for Gore and Kerry, was plotting against the White House from his CIA office, and certainly doesn’t have the credibility of upstanding citizens like Rove and Novak.


July 25, 2005

A Small Sign of Spine


Today John Kerry and 25 other Democrats in the Senate formally requested a congressional investigation into the leak of Valerie Plame’s identity (read the letter). Now you may remember that there are 44 Democratic senators, so let’s see who signed and who didn’t:

Signed Didn’t Sign
Bayh (IN)
Boxer (CA)
Carper (DE)
Clinton (NY)
Corzine (NJ)
Dorgan (ND)
Durbin (IL)
Feinstein (CA)
Harkin (IA)
Inouye (HI)
Johnson (SD)
Kerry (MA)
Kohl (WI)
Landrieu (LA)
Lautenberg (NJ)
Levin (MI)
Mikulski (MD)
Murray (WA)
Obama (IL)
Reed (RI)
Rockefeller (WV)
Salazar (CO)
Sarbanes (MD)
Schumer (NY)
Stabenow (MI)
Wyden (OR)
Akaka (HI)
Baucus (MT)
Biden (DE)
Bingaman (NM)
Byrd (WV)
Cantwell (WA)
Conrad (ND)
Dayton (MN)
Dodd (CT)
Feingold (WI)
Kennedy (MA)
Leahy (VT)
Lieberman (CT)
Lincoln (AR)
Nelson (FL)
Nelson (NE)
Pryor (AR)
Reid (NV)

Surprising signers include Mary Landrieu and Ken Salazar, who were two of the six Democrats who voted for Alberto Gonzales as attorney general (the other four are in the “Didn’t Sign” column above). Surprising nonsigners include Kennedy and Reid — perhaps they missed a memo? Joe Biden failed to redeem himself from Friday’s embarrassing performance, and Joe Lieberman is where we all expect him to be.

Along with the request, Democrats revealed a leak clock and a Harper’s Index–style listing of facts about the Plame leak.

Meanwhile, Republicans had their own response to the Plame scandal. We’ve been waiting for the attack on the prosecutor. Well, it looks like it’s started, led by one of the White House’s congressional henchmen, Rep. Pat Roberts of Kansas:

[Roberts] intends to preside over hearings on the intelligence community’s use of covert protections for CIA agents and others involved in secret activities.

The chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence could hold hearings on the use of espionage cover soon after the U.S. Congress returns from its August recess, said Roberts spokeswoman Sarah Little.

Little said the Senate committee would also review the probe of special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who has been investigating the Plame case for nearly two years.

Josh Marshall has more — and more (update: and still more).

July 19, 2005

George W. Bush, Champion of Workers’ Rights


Monday Bush modified his position on whether to fire those involved in exposing Valerie Plame:

Q Mr. President, you said you don’t want to talk about an ongoing investigation, so I’d like to ask you, regardless of whether a crime was committed, do you still intend to fire anyone found to be involved in the CIA leak case? And are you displeased that Karl Rove told a reporter that Ambassador Joe Wilson’s wife worked for the Agency on WMD issues?

PRESIDENT BUSH: We have a serious ongoing investigation here. (Laughter.) And it’s being played out in the press. And I think it’s best that people wait until the investigation is complete before you jump to conclusions. And I will do so, as well. I don’t know all the facts. I want to know all the facts. The best place for the facts to be done is by somebody who’s spending time investigating it. I would like this to end as quickly as possible so we know the facts, and if someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration.

It seems Bush is now embracing the idea that it’s wrong to fire someone unless they’ve been convicted of illegal activity. That’s far stronger job protection that any labor union has ever asked for. Do you think we’ve been wrong about Bush’s attitude toward workers all along? Or maybe it’s just that it’s okay if you’re a Republican.

July 16, 2005

Republican Crimestop


I’ve been reading Orwell’s 1984, DCDL’s book of the month, and for some reason a particular passage has been resonating lately — and I have a feeling the resonance may increase in the coming weeks (emphasis and paragraph breaks added, since Emanuel Goldstein seems addicted to page-long paragraphs):

A Party member is expected to have no private emotions and no respites from enthusiasm. He is supposed to live in a continuous frenzy of hatred of foreign enemies and internal traitors, triumph over victories, and self-abasement before the power and wisdom of the Party. The discontents produced by his bare, unsatisfying life are deliberately turned outwards and dissipated by such devices as the Two Minutes Hate, and the speculations which might possibly induce a skeptical or rebellious attitude are killed in advance by his early acquired inner discipline.

The first and simplest stage in the discipline, which can be taught even to young children, is called, in Newspeak, crimestop. Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity.

But stupidity is not enough. On the contrary, orthodoxy in the full sense demands a control over one’s own mental processes as complete as that of a contortionist over his body. Oceanic society rests ultimately on the belief that Big Brother is omnipotent and that the Party is infallible. But since in reality Big Brother is not omnipotent and the Party is not infallible, there is need for an unwearying, moment-to-moment flexibility in the treatment of facts.

The keyword here is blackwhite. Like so many Newspeak words, this word has two mutually contradictory meanings. Applied to an opponent, it means the habit of impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts. Applied to a Party member, it means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary. This demands a continuous alteration of the past, made possible by the system of thought which really embraces all the rest, and which is known in Newspeak as doublethink.

Of course we don’t live in the world of 1984, and there is no threat of arrest, torture, or execution for those guilty of thoughtcrime. Instead people are training themselves in crimestop of their own free will. I’m not sure whether that’s better or worse.

The DCDL discussion of 1984 was postponed indefinitely. Are people still up for it? Do you have suggestions of other books we should read and talk about? If so, leave a comment.

July 15, 2005

Politics Above Security in the White House: Did London Pay the Price?


The White House’s destruction of Valerie Plame as an undercover CIA operative (one investigating weapons of mass destruction) to punish her husband, Joe Wilson, for saying things the administration didn’t like is hardly the only time the Bush administration has weighed political advantage as more important than national security. Probably the worst example is Bush & Co.’s use of the September 11 attacks to divide the country for political purposes and alienate the rest of the world — squandering a unique opportunity to unite the country and make use of the sympathy from the global community to make us all safer.

For a more specific example, think back to the time of last year’s Democratic convention. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge raised the alert level to orange for some cities and financial institutions, and he politicized his alert by including the statement “the kind of information available to us today is the result of the President’s leadership in the war against terror.” When people were skeptical about the alert (which was based on three-year-old information), the administration — apparently desparate to show that the threat was real — revealed the name of a captured Al Qaeda member who was the source. Unfortunately, the informant, Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan, was cooperating and acting as a mole at the time (other Al Qaeda members didn’t know he’d been captured), and after his name was revealed his usefulness was ended. Undercover agents within Al Qaeda aren’t exactly a dime a dozen, but the Bush campaign/administration destroyed one to reduce a political embarrassment.

I bring this up now because Americablog has a long post detailing the connection between the Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan incident and last week’s London bombings (Juan Cole has more). It’s possible that if Khan had been able to continue as a mole the network responsible for the bombings could have been unraveled before they were able to kill scores of people. But that would have required the Bush folks to value something above scoring political points.

July 13, 2005

“Fire Rove” Rally Thursday


If any of you are going to be in the area of the White House Thursday afternoon, you might want to attend this rally I just got an announcement about:

You’re invited to come speak out against Karl Rove’s abuse of power and demand that President Bush fire Rove. Join other MoveOn members and members of the community at a peaceful protest and picket, Thursday July 14, at 2:30 PM on Pennsylvania Avenue outside The White House.

Rove betrayed the identity of an undercover CIA operative forcing her to end a decade of important national security work. He did it to protect the Bush political agenda. Now, the White House is covering up this betrayal of our national security. The media is ready to report on public outrage about Rove. Will you show up and speak out?

Please join us tomorrow and let Bush, the media and Congress know that Americans are angry about Rove.

What: Protest and Picket to Demand Bush Fire Karl Rove

Where: The White House, Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC (Metro: Farragut West or McPherson Square)

When: 2:30 PM :: Thursday, July 14, 2005 (rain or shine)

Signs will be provided.

I’ll see you there. Thanks for all you do.

—Tom Matzzie
MoveOn PAC
Wednesday, July 13, 2005

P.S. If you want to come dressed up in costume as a spy and protest the media will love that. Think: trench coat, sunglasses and a little nametag that says, “Spy.”


DCDL is a blog by Washington, DC-area members of Drinking Liberally. Opinions expressed are the writers’, not those of Drinking Liberally, which provides no funding or other support for this blog.

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