Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 9, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

LIBBY'S LATEST DEFENSE....The latest from Murray Waas:

Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, testified to a federal grand jury that he had been "authorized" by Cheney and other White House "superiors" in the summer of 2003 to disclose classified information to journalists to defend the Bush administration's use of prewar intelligence in making the case to go to war with Iraq, according to attorneys familiar with the matter, and to court records.

....Beyond what was stated in the court paper, say people with firsthand knowledge of the matter, Libby also indicated what he will offer as a broad defense during his upcoming criminal trial: that Vice President Cheney and other senior Bush administration officials had earlier encouraged and authorized him to share classified information with journalists to build public support for going to war.

So Libby's defense is going to be that releasing classified information for political purposes was so common in the VP's office that he figured exposing Valerie Plame was just SOP? All righty....

Kevin Drum 2:50 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (110)

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Comments

All those who are surprised raise your hands, please.

Posted by: chuck on February 9, 2006 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

No wonder Dick has been in hiding lately. Dick knows something naughty

Hey, I made a funny. Dick. Knows.

Posted by: Sunbeam on February 9, 2006 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

How is this a defense? Libby was not charged with the unauthorized release of classified information. He was charged with perjury.

Posted by: Joe Buck on February 9, 2006 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Recommended reading:

Cheney Spearheaded Effort to Discredit Wilson
By Jason Leopold
www.truthout.org
09 February 2006

Excerpt:

Vice President Dick Cheney and then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley led a campaign beginning in March 2003 to discredit former Ambassador Joseph Wilson for publicly criticizing the Bush administration's intelligence on Iraq, according to current and former administration officials. The officials work or had worked in the State Department, the CIA and the National Security Council in a senior capacity and had direct knowledge of the Vice President's campaign to discredit Wilson.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 9, 2006 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans: we're tough on national security professionals.

Posted by: cleek on February 9, 2006 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

But if that's his defense, he probably won't get the $3million and the pardon that they've promised him for taking the blame...

Posted by: craigie on February 9, 2006 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

That's not a defense.

Libby was charged with perjury and obstruction (or was it just perjury?).

"Cheney authorized it" *might* have provided a defense if Libby had been charged for the leak itself (though I doubt it). But that's not what he was charged with.

Posted by: tom on February 9, 2006 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

So let's see.

Revealing, as did the NY Times, the bare fact that the NSA may be wiretapping our phones is somehow an unforgivable disclosure that must be investigated and prosecuted if necessary.

But revealing any classified info that might support the Iraq war is A-OK.

Sigh.

I just wish pointing out this stuff wouldn't be just shooting fish in a barrel.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 9, 2006 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

But revealing any classified info that might support the Iraq war is A-OK.

Indeed. But note further that outing Plame doesn't even "support the war" - it just punishes people who don't.

But I love watching Republicans when they get into a hard spot. Suddenly it's all crying and moaning and "my mommy told me to commit a felony!" Personal responsibility, anyone?

Posted by: craigie on February 9, 2006 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

"he had been "authorized" by Cheney"

I've been out of the business for awhile but I don't remember ever learning that the VP had the authority to declassify national security info. Only the originator of classified info had the authority to declassify it.

Do we have an impeachable offense here?

Posted by: arkie on February 9, 2006 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Waiting for the obligatory trollosers to come by any second and say something witty like, "you guys are just bitter you lost the 2004 election"

Posted by: Sunbeam on February 9, 2006 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

As a couple of posters have already said, this "Dick made me do it" issue is not a defense to the charges he's defending against. In fact, it's so difficult to see the relevancy that if Judge Walton is on the ball, he won't even allow it in as evidence. This is just for public consumption.

Posted by: Glenn on February 9, 2006 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

That's the funniest defense he could come up with on such short notice: 1 year until the trial. Don't want the trial or his pardon to have an effect on the 2006 elections, would we?

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on February 9, 2006 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

But doesn't this all open the door for fitz to go after cheney?

Posted by: ed on February 9, 2006 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

I've been out of the business for awhile but I don't remember ever learning that the VP had the authority to declassify national security info. Only the originator of classified info had the authority to declassify it.

Do we have an impeachable offense here?

That's my understanding of EO 13292. More than that, no one ever declassified this information; it was just leaked. There's a pretty big difference.

This seems to be a bunch of squid ink to confuse the situation. As others have said, Libby is charged with perjury and other counts, not the underlying act. Whether or not Cheney said it was OK doesn't change the fact that he lied about it under oath.

Posted by: ericblair on February 9, 2006 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

"Just following orders" didn't work for the Nazis, why would Libby think that this latter-day bunch of fascists can succeed where Hitler's minions failed?

Posted by: meade on February 9, 2006 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

Shouldn't we be celebrating this? He's specifically implicating Cheney and "other [Rovelike] senior Bush administration officials" as part of the decision to leak Valerie Plame. The statement also implies that his testimony will show that Cheney and Rove was aware of the classified nature of the leaked information.

Not only is this great political ammunition if used properly (soft on defense GOP!), but it builds a criminal case against Rove and Cheney.

Posted by: Justin on February 9, 2006 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

Glenn: ...if Judge Walton is on the ball, he won't even allow it in as evidence. This is just for public consumption.

Yes, indeedy.

"Okay, we've convinced all Fox viewers that Plame wasn't covert. However, a few bastard freepers are still asking why, if she wasn't covert, Scooter had to construct an elaborate lie about it. Start telling them he was just following orders. Oh, and keep the 'criminalization of politics' line going. No letup on that. Right, get going."

Posted by: shortstop on February 9, 2006 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Excuse my Law & Order level of sophistication on legal matters, but does this mean that Libby has been, "flipped" by the prosecution and is using this "defense" to get himself a better plea agreement?

Posted by: D. on February 9, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Also, we all know both that the Bush administration leaked classified information broadly in order to gain political support, but this is a story that Average Joe is unaware of. With a good media campaign, we could make the case to the American people about Bush's actions, and why they were harmful to national security, hitting Bush where we need to hit him the most....on the fear issue.

Posted by: Justin on February 9, 2006 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

Didn't the Nuremburg Nazis defend themselves with "I was just following orders?"

Ahhh, Repiglicans...the buck stops over there.

Posted by: JMaccabee on February 9, 2006 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

This kind of seems like the opposite of a defense.

Before he claimed that he never disclosed anything, but merely repeated what journalists were telling him.

Now he's saying, "sure, I disclosed it, why wouldn't I have?"

I guess we'll see how that works out for him.

Posted by: Marcus on February 9, 2006 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe the trolls are now all underwater with their overpriced condos. The bubble is bursting, folks.

Posted by: troglodyte on February 9, 2006 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

i nod in hopeful approval at D.'s interpretation.

but i fear another yank-the-ball-away moment.

Posted by: cleek on February 9, 2006 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

So, not only is breaking the law laid down in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 acceptable if the President does it, but breaking the law laid down in the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982, signed by the President's father when he was President, is acceptable if the Vice President authorizes it?

Where are the "Rule of Law" crowd who were so noisy in the late '90s?

Posted by: derek on February 9, 2006 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

But wasn't the stuff that Libby admits to leaking to Miller a lie? I recall that he told Miller that the classified portions of the NIE actually had more info bolstering the Niger-uranium thing. But the opposite was the case. I think I'm remembering that correctly.

Posted by: Jim E. on February 9, 2006 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

I always thought Ronald Reagan and Barbara Bush had a fling, thanks for confirming derek.

Posted by: Ugh on February 9, 2006 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, that should have read "signed when the President's father was Vice-President", got my dates confused.

Posted by: derek on February 9, 2006 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

"The rule of law crowd":

That narrative is not currently operative, although it may be re-acctivated should a Democrat get in the White House.

Posted by: LJ on February 9, 2006 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

The Eichmann defense.

Posted by: Leftist Boddhisatva on February 9, 2006 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

at the very least though, admitting that he was "authorized" to do what he did removes the implication/defense that he "forgot" and therefore hadn't committed perjury by lying about what he did. Man, just typing that sentence made my head hurt. what I mean is, previously libby's defense was "I didn't do it...or it was legal to do it...or I simply forgot that I did it when I insisted under oath that I had not done it on X number of specific occasions." If he was "authorized to do it" then chances are he is also claiming now not to have forgotten which makes it hard for him to claim that he had simply forgotten, the only defense to lying about it.

i give up

aimai

Posted by: aimai on February 9, 2006 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

The other good news about that article, assuming it's all true, is that it shows the administration selectively leaking classified info both before and after the war to build support for it/CYA. When is the second part of that investigation on the administration's use of intelligence supposed to begin again?

Posted by: Ugh on February 9, 2006 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

The People should give this Administration its due -- impeachment or indictment under RICO statutes -- I'm not particular.

Posted by: sadderbudweiser on February 9, 2006 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

frankly0: I just wish pointing out this stuff wouldn't be just shooting fish in a barrel.

Ah! But, it's an invisible barrel. Getting back to the real news, do you think all Democrats always have pms symptoms, or is it just Hillary?


Posted by: jim p on February 9, 2006 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

And hmmmm...what is the President doing today that might distract from this story? Oh right, giving a detailed description for the first time about how we foiled a 9/11-type attack in 2002.

Posted by: Ugh on February 9, 2006 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

b-b-but I thought Libby's defense was "gee, I forgot what I said to whom, you can't expect me to keep track of details about what I said on a phone conversation 3 years ago. . . "

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on February 9, 2006 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

This is irrelevant to Libby's current predicament. It doesn't matter if Cheney or the Angel Gabriel told him Plame was covert/NOC.

He's facing trial on a charge of making false statements -- he's not charged with burning Plame.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on February 9, 2006 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

This is all part of the inherent Article II power of the unitary executive.

I can't believe I typed that with a straight face. If Waas has the story straight, he's grasping at whatever comes after straws.

Posted by: VAMark on February 9, 2006 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

ah yes, the ole exposing Plame's super duper hyper pooper triple secret 0069 identity. you libs make us all laugh. repiglicans, dumsfeld, chimpymchaliburton, and you actually find it all witty. this comment board is political sesame street.

Posted by: w on February 9, 2006 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

Davis X. Machina >"...He's facing trial on a charge of making false statements -- he's not charged with burning Plame.

Obstruction of justice ("tossing sand in the umpire`s eyes" according to Fitzgerald) & perjury (making false statements)

The "burning" of Plame & Brewster-Jennings is, as you say, not involved here

[and why do you suppose neo-cons would want to burn those folks & their work ?; I`m sure we`ll want to come back to that WMD related question "later"]

As others have posted, this is all about "spin" & NOT about the law or Libby`s trial

[my hunch is it is related to raising money for his defense fund]

Wonder who is "leaking" this stuff; many are the possibilities in this game playing out in the House of Mirrors and Smoke

"Liars are usually easily discredited; it's the truth-tellers who need to be destroyed." - Joshua Marshall

Posted by: daCascadian on February 9, 2006 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

this comment board is political sesame street.

I'm so ashamed. Please, show us the proper way to do this, oh wise one.

Posted by: craigie on February 9, 2006 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

ah yes, the ole exposing Plame's super duper hyper pooper triple secret 0069 identity. you libs make us all laugh. repiglicans, dumsfeld, chimpymchaliburton, and you actually find it all witty. this comment board is political sesame street.

Posted by: w on February 9, 2006 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

Mr. President, is that you?

Sorry if we upset your delicate sensibilities. Why don't you go over to a righty blog? Pure, enlightened, high-minded discussion of the issues there! Why, they never stoop to names such as Billary, feminazis, Hitlery, moonbats, Dimocrats, Qerry, traitors, Al Bore, or anything else. In fact I just now made all those names up.

Posted by: Alek Hidell on February 9, 2006 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

How is any of that a defense? I mean, sure, it might be an argument for solicitation, conspiracy, and charges as accessories against other members of the administration, but how does that negate Libby's culpability?

And, as other's noted above, how does that even relate to the charges he has been indicted on? It seems to be an attempt at a PR excuse, rather than a legal defense, for an action he hasn't yet been charged with. Though, if he already claimed to a grand jury that he was "authorized" by higher-ups to leak classified info for political purposes, the question of why he wasn't chrged with doing just that becomes even more interesting.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 9, 2006 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

I would guess that Libby's crack defense team knows what will work in the courtroom better than the professional Bush haters who have repeatedly demonstrated on this board that they have no understanding of law, science, economics or politics let alone basic moral and ethical principles.

I say it's one more for the Republicans, and yet another washout for the Dems.

Posted by: tbrosz on February 9, 2006 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

It seems to be an attempt at a PR excuse, rather than a legal defense, ...
Posted by: cmdicely on February 9, 2006 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

Bingo.

I would guess that Libby's crack defense team. . .
Posted by: tbrosz on February 9, 2006 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

Double Bingo!

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on February 9, 2006 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

Gee, I never would have guessed in a million years that Cheney had anything to do with this. He always seemed so honest and straightforward.

Posted by: Beale on February 9, 2006 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

Tbrosz: "I would guess that Libby's crack defense team knows what will work in the courtroom better than the professional Bush haters who have repeatedly demonstrated on this board that they have no understanding of law, science, economics or politics let alone basic moral and ethical principles."

Tbrosz is right--you professional Bush-haters have revealed yourselves to be amateurs. Go find another line of work. I hear the Hudson Institute is hiring.

Posted by: TLaemmle on February 9, 2006 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz, I'm not a Bush hater. I actually pity the guy. He's really kind of a Forest Gump/Chauncey Gardner character, don't you think?

You can go ahead and call me a Cheney hater if you want. And since I waste so much time at work fuming about the damage Big Time is doing to our country, I guess it would be fair to call me a professional.

Posted by: Beale on February 9, 2006 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

If you read the whole article, Libby has hired Oliver North's defense attorney who, according to the article, got North off on the things that North said he was authorized/ordered to do by the higher-ups (and was convicted of things that he was shown to have done on his own initiative).

It's a play for jury nullification.

Posted by: Ugh on February 9, 2006 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

The real question:

Can the Bush Administration sustain itself until 2008?

Before you answer that think on this:

The true depravity of this administration is unknown to us.

Not only are they stonewalling the things we know to be true (Cheney's guilt in the Plame affair for example), but they are also working overtime to keep vast caverns of evil deeds beneath the surface.

How sustainable is this effort?

After all, all it takes is one well-placed insider to honor his constitutional vows above those of his vows to the Bush family... and KABOOM!

My prediction: The lies of this administration are unsustainable. It will collapse before 2008. And it will do so instantaneously, almost without forewarning. The VP will fall first. Then the titular head himself will tumble.

I could be wrong of course...

Posted by: koreyel on February 9, 2006 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

Ugh wrote: If you read the whole article, Libby has hired Oliver North's defense attorney who, according to the article, got North off on the things that North said he was authorized/ordered to do by the higher-ups

Since Libby is charged with perjury, that strategy is only helpful if he is going to argue that "higher-ups" ordered him to commit perjury. As everyone else has already pointed out, it doesn't matter to Libby's defense whether he was ordered by higher-ups to leak classified info, because he hasn't been charged with that.

So perhaps Libby's defense team is going to claim that Cheney ordered Libby to lie to the FBI and the grand jury. Maybe Libby has realized he won't be pardoned, and will go to prison, and has decided to burn Cheney big time in return for a lenient sentence.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 9, 2006 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

Reid Aided Abramoff Clients, Records Show

WASHINGTON, Feb. 9, 2006
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

(AP) Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid wrote at least four letters helpful to Indian tribes represented by Jack Abramoff, and the senator's staff regularly had contact with the disgraced lobbyist's team about legislation affecting other clients.

The activities _ detailed in billing records and correspondence obtained by The Associated Press _ are far more extensive than previously disclosed. They occurred over three years as Reid collected nearly $68,000 in donations from Abramoff's firm, lobbying partners and clients.

Reid's office acknowledged Thursday having "routine contacts" with Abramoff's lobbying partners and intervening on some government matters _ such as blocking some tribal casinos _ in ways Abramoff's clients might have deemed helpful. But it said none of his actions were affected by donations or done for Abramoff.

"All the actions that Senator Reid took were consistent with his long-held beliefs, such as not letting tribal casinos expand beyond reservations, and were taken to defend the interests of Nevada constituents," spokesman Jim Manley said.

Reid, D-Nev., has led the Democratic Party's attacks portraying Abramoff's lobbying and fundraising as a Republican scandal.

But Abramoff's records show his lobbying partners billed for nearly two dozen phone contacts or meetings with Reid's office in 2001 alone.

Most were to discuss Democratic legislation that would have applied the U.S. minimum wage to the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. territory and Abramoff client, but would have given the islands a temporary break on the wage rate, the billing records show.

Reid also intervened on government matters at least five times in ways helpful to Abramoff's tribal clients, once opposing legislation on the Senate floor and four times sending letters pressing the Bush administration on tribal issues. Reid collected donations around the time of each action.

Ethics rules require senators to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest in collecting contributions around the times they take official acts benefiting donors.

Abramoff's firm also hired one of Reid's top legislative aides as a lobbyist. The aide later helped throw a fundraiser for Reid at Abramoff's firm that raised donations from several of his lobbying partners.

And Reid's longtime chief of staff accepted a free trip to Malaysia arranged by a consulting firm connected to Abramoff that recently has gained attention in the influence-peddling investigation that has gripped the Capitol.

Abramoff has pleaded guilty in a fraud and bribery case and is now helping prosecutors investigate the conduct of lawmakers, congressional aides and administration officials his team used to lobby.

Abramoff spokesman Andrew Blum declined to comment on the Reid contacts.

Reid has assailed Republicans' ties to Abramoff while refusing to return any of his own donations. He argues there's no need to return the money.

"Senator Reid never met Jack Abramoff and never has taken contributions from him, and efforts to drag him into this are going to fail," Manley said. "Abramoff is a convicted felon and no one has suggested the other partners we might have dealt with have done anything impermissible."

While Abramoff never directly donated to Reid, the lobbyist did instruct one tribe, the Coushattas, to send $5,000 to Reid's tax-exempt political group, the Searchlight Leadership Fund, in 2002. About the same time, Reid sent a letter to the Interior Department helpful to the tribe, records show.

Abramoff sent a list to the tribe entitled "Coushatta Requests" recommending donations to campaigns or groups for 50 lawmakers he claimed were helpful to the tribe. Alongside Reid's name, Abramoff wrote, "5,000 (Searchlight Leadership Fund) Senate Majority Whip."

Following a pattern seen with Abramoff and Republicans, Abramoff's Democratic team members often delivered donations to Reid close to key events.

Reid himself, along his Senate counsel Jim Ryan, met with Abramoff deputy Ronald Platt on June 5, 2001, "to discuss timing on minimum wage bill" that affected the Marianas, according to a bill that Greenberg Traurig, Abramoff's firm, sent the Marianas.

Three weeks before the meeting, Greenberg Traurig's political action committee donated $1,000 to Reid's Senate re-election committee. Three weeks after the meeting, Platt himself donated $1,000 to Reid.

Manley said Reid's official calendar doesn't list a meeting on June 5, 2001, with Platt, but he also said he couldn't say for sure the contact didn't occur. Manley confirmed Platt had regular contacts with Reid's office, calling them part of the "routine checking in" by lobbyists who work Capitol Hill.

As for the timing of donations, Manley said, "There is no connection. This is just a typical part of lawful fundraising."

The Marianas, U.S. territorial islands in the Pacific Ocean, were one of Abramoff's highest-paying clients and were trying to keep their textile industry exempt from most U.S. laws on immigration, labor and pay, including the minimum wage. Many Democrats have long accused the islands of running garment sweatshops.

The islands in 2001 had their own minimum wage of $3.05 an hour, and were exempt from the U.S. minimum of $5.15.

Republicans were intent on protecting the Marianas' exemption. Democrats, led by Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts and Rep. George Miller of California, wanted the Marianas to be covered by the U.S. minimum and crafted a compromise.

In February 2001, Kennedy introduced a bill that would have raised the U.S. hourly minimum to $6.65 and would have covered the Marianas. The legislation, which eventually failed, would have given the islands an initial break by setting its minimum at just $3.55 _ nearly $3 lower than any other territory or state _ and then gradually increasing it.

Within a month, Platt began billing for routine contacts and meetings with Reid's staff, starting with a March 26, 2001, contact with Reid chief of staff Susan McCue to "discuss timing and status of minimum wage legislation," the billing records say.

In all, Platt and a fellow lobbyist reported 21 contacts in 2001 with Reid's office, mostly with McCue and Ryan.

One of the Marianas contacts, listed for May 30, 2001, was with Edward Ayoob, Reid's legislative counsel. Within a year, Ayoob had left Reid's office to work for Abramoff's firm, registering specifically to lobby for the islands as well as several tribes. Manley confirmed Ayoob had subsequent lobbying contacts with Reid's office.

Manley cast doubt on some of the contacts recorded in the billing records, saying McCue was out of Washington for a couple of the dates. But he acknowledged the contacts could have occurred by cell phone.

In January 2002, McCue took a free trip, valued at $7,000, to Malaysia with several other congressional aides. The trip, cleared by Senate ethics officials, was underwritten by the U.S. Malaysia Exchange Association, a group trying to foster better relations between the United States and Malaysia.

The trips were part of a broader lobbying strategy by Malaysia, which consulted with Abramoff and paid $300,000 to a company connected to him, according to documents released by Senate investigators. The arrangements included a trip by then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and his wife to Malaysia in October 2001.

While Abramoff worked behind the scenes, the Alexander Strategy Group run by two former DeLay aides, Ed Buckham and Tony Rudy, publicly registered to lobby for the U.S. Malaysia Exchange Association.

Rudy, who was cited in Abramoff's court case, had worked temporarily for Abramoff before joining Buckham at Alexander Strategy, and the three men were friendly. In January 2002, Alexander Strategy arranged two congressional trips to Malaysia underwritten by the association.

One trip took a delegation of Republican congressmen. A Democratic consultant hired by Alexander Strategy, former Clinton White House aide Joel Johnson, invited McCue and went on the second trip with congressional staffers.

Johnson said he invited McCue on behalf of Alexander Strategy and went on the trip with her but said he knew of no connections to Abramoff. "My interest was in getting Democrats to travel to the country and to learn more about Malaysia," Johnson said.

Reid intervened on other matters.

On March 5, 2002, he sent a letter to the Interior Department pressing the agency to reject a proposed casino by the Jena band of Choctaw Indians in Louisiana. Fellow Nevada Sen. John Ensign, a Republican, also signed.

The Jena's proposed casino would have rivaled one already in operation in Louisiana run by the Coushattas, and Abramoff was lobbying to block the Jena. The day after Reid's letter, the Coushattas wrote a $5,000 check to Reid's Searchlight group at Abramoff's suggestion.

Reid and Ensign recently wrote the Senate Ethics Committee to say their letter had nothing to do with Abramoff or the donation and instead reflected their interest in protecting Las Vegas' gambling establishments.

"As senators for the state with the largest nontribal gaming industry in the nation, we have long opposed the growth of off-reservation tribal gaming throughout the United States," Ensign and Reid wrote. Reid authored the law legalizing casinos on reservations, and has long argued it does not allow tribal gambling off reservations.

On Nov. 8, 2002, the Nevada Democrat signed a letter with California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein urging Interior Secretary Gale Norton to reject a proposal by the Cuyapaipe Band of Mission Indians to convert land for a health clinic into a casino in southern California.

The casino would have competed with the Palm Springs gambling establishment run by the Agua Caliente, one of Abramoff's tribes.

Two weeks later, Reid went to the Senate floor to oppose fellow Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow's effort to win congressional approval for a Michigan casino for the Bay Mills Indians, which would have rivaled one already operating by the Saginaw Chippewa represented by Abramoff.

"The legislation is fundamentally flawed," Reid argued, successfully leading the opposition to Stabenow's proposal.

The next month, Reid joined six other Democratic senators in asking President Bush in mid-December 2002 to spend an additional $30 million for Indian school construction. Several Abramoff tribes, including the Saginaw and the Mississippi Choctaw, were seeking federal money for school building.

Six weeks after that letter, three Abramoff partners _ including Platt and Ayoob _ donated a total of $4,000 to Reid's Senate re-election campaign. Later in 2003, the Agua Caliente contributed $13,500 to Reid's political groups while the Saginaw chipped in $9,000.

Reid sent a fourth letter on April 30, 2003, joining Ensign a second time to urge Interior to reject the Jena casino.

Two months later, Abramoff's firm threw a fundraiser for Reid at its Washington office that netted the Nevada senator several more donations from Greenberg Traurig lobbyists and their spouses. Ayoob was instrumental in staging the event, Reid's office said.

Posted by: Sloppy Liberal on February 9, 2006 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

This information may be relevant if anyone had been indicted for outing Valerie Plame, but no one has. How is any of this a defense to lying to a grand jury?

Posted by: Paul on February 9, 2006 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

koreyel: "The lies of this administration are unsustainable. It will collapse before 2008. And it will do so instantaneously, almost without forewarning. The VP will fall first. Then the titular head himself will tumble.

I could be wrong of course..."

In 2004 they had a team of Justice Department lawyers working hard to find any pretext at all to postpone or cancel the election.

What evidence do we have that the boy emperor will go willingly in any circumstances at all?

The rest of his life will be fighting off indictments of one kind or another.

Posted by: cld on February 9, 2006 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

"All the actions that Senator Reid took were consistent with his long-held beliefs, such as not letting tribal casinos expand beyond reservations, and were taken to defend the interests of Nevada constituents," spokesman Jim Manley said.

. . . in other words, this lame attempt at trying to put Abramoff and Reid together in the name of supporting the "it's a bipartisan scandal" lie is just more noise.

Reid took money from indian tribes. He always has, he has always voted on indian gaming issues, he's been fairly consistent across his career, and in fact, one would say it's pretty much a given, since he represents Nevada.

Prove he took money directly FROM Abramoff, prove he sold his vote for such money. You can't do it, because it did not happen. Unlike the sleazeball Repukes who DID sell their votes to Abramoff.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on February 9, 2006 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist -

Good point.

Posted by: Ugh on February 9, 2006 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

What evidence do we have that the boy emperor will go willingly in any circumstances at all?

Not sure we need any, but I would say that he'll leave because he's bored. He got what he wanted (Iraq and re-election), the rest is just filler.

Posted by: Ugh on February 9, 2006 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

I would guess that Libby's crack defense team knows what will work in the courtroom better than the professional Bush haters who have repeatedly demonstrated on this board that they have no understanding of law, science, economics or politics let alone basic moral and ethical principles.

And tbrosz is a qualified judge of understanding in any of those fields...how, exactly?

Posted by: cmdicely on February 9, 2006 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

And tbrosz is a qualified judge of understanding in any of those fields...how, exactly?
Posted by: cmdicely on February 9, 2006 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

Why, because he's a Rocket Scientist (TM), of course.
(okay, well, he draws pictures of rockets).
(okay, well, he's not that great of a drawer, so he has computers draw the pictures for him).

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on February 9, 2006 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK
It's a play for jury nullification.

If Fitz is smart and sees it coming, it shouldn't be hard to counter; especially given that, unlike North, Libby can't play on the expectation of obedience from a uniformed member of the military which (whether legally valid or not, certainly has a substantial emotionally power that benefitted North.)

Posted by: cmdicely on February 9, 2006 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

OH Yeah, OBF? Are you sure:

"But Abramoff's records show his lobbying partners billed for nearly two dozen phone contacts or meetings with Reid's office in 2001 alone.

Most were to discuss Democratic legislation that would have applied the U.S. minimum wage to the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. territory and Abramoff client, but would have given the islands a temporary break on the wage rate, the billing records show."

Are you sure?

Posted by: nonesuch on February 9, 2006 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, if you read the whole piece you start to see the 'method to the madness.' Cline, Libby's new attorney and North's former attorney, is an expert in classified info law. One tactic is to ask for a ton of classified info for the defense, in this case months of PDBs. When the government, in this case Fitzgerald, won't produce the documents that the defense deems crucial, there's a possibility the case will be thrown out.

Posted by: nepeta on February 9, 2006 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

"Following a pattern seen with Abramoff and Republicans, Abramoff's Democratic team members often delivered donations to Reid close to key events.

Reid himself, along his Senate counsel Jim Ryan, met with Abramoff deputy Ronald Platt on June 5, 2001, "to discuss timing on minimum wage bill" that affected the Marianas, according to a bill that Greenberg Traurig, Abramoff's firm, sent the Marianas.

Three weeks before the meeting, Greenberg Traurig's political action committee donated $1,000 to Reid's Senate re-election committee. Three weeks after the meeting, Platt himself donated $1,000 to Reid."

Basically, ZERO DIFFERENCE.

heh.

Posted by: nonesuch on February 9, 2006 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

That's a terrible defense, since it seems to suggest that he did know she was classified, and released the information, without approval to release this information (specifically), which would seem to open the door for rightful prosecution under the Espionage Act pursuant to the oaths and affirmations he took upon receiving his SF-312 and other nondisclosures.

The SF-312 clearly states that it is the responsibilty of the person agreeing to the nondisclosure to determine, if there is any doubt, that it is okay to release the information. Other specific occasions where he may have been given this permission do not relate, and an overly general waiver to release classified information may get Libby off, maybe, but it then implicated Cheney and the White House in a much larger way, since it would clearly be a huge scandal to give White House employees broad discretion to release classified information for political reasons without effective oversight or accountability.

Posted by: Jimm on February 9, 2006 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

This may be a really good way for Libby to secure himself a presidential pardon, since he's essentially saying that he's going to implicate the White House in a leak scandal that the White House denied knowing about publicly without qualification for the past 2 years.

The betrayal of the public trust by this outright lying and cover up would bring down the whole government and Republican Party.

Posted by: Jimm on February 9, 2006 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

It is not a defense to what he is charged with, however, I would suggest that the phrase "Beyond what was stated in the court paper, say people with firsthand knowledge of the matter" be taken with a very large grain of salt.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on February 9, 2006 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

Obviously, Cheney authorized the perjury as well. And since this all part of the "War on Terra" the authority of the Executive (which Cheney obviously controls) is unbounded, and this was just one of the "all means necessary" to Wage the War on Terra.

Don't you know anything! Sigh.

Posted by: Cal Gal on February 9, 2006 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

"But Abramoff's records show his lobbying partners billed for nearly two dozen phone contacts or meetings with Reid's office in 2001 alone.

Yes, I'm sure Abramoff's records do show that. The question is whether Abramoff's records are worth wiping one's ass with.

This may be a really good way for Libby to secure himself a presidential pardon, since he's essentially saying that he's going to implicate the White House in a leak scandal that the White House denied knowing about publicly without qualification for the past 2 years.

I dunno - them Aspens, they turn in clusters, don't they? On the other hand, it may be a good way for Libby to secure himself a small-plane crash, or a case of terminal brain cancer (a la Casey).

The betrayal of the public trust by this outright lying and cover up would bring down the whole government and Republican Party.
Posted by: Jimm on February 9, 2006 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

Or just be smothered by the next missing white woman story.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on February 9, 2006 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

nonesuch,

Billed for 'phonecontacts' at Reid's office? That is so --lawyerly. They called up and found out no one was around who would talk to them and billed the Indians $500, rounded up to the nearest hour?

Posted by: cld on February 9, 2006 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

nonesuch -

Doesn't that article go on to state that Reid ultimately opposed what Abramhoff wanted with respect to the minimum wage? In other words, there was no quo for the quid?

Posted by: Ugh on February 9, 2006 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

Obviously, Cheney authorized the perjury as well. And since this all part of the "War on Terra" the authority of the Executive (which Cheney obviously controls) is unbounded, and this was just one of the "all means necessary" to Wage the War on Terra.

Don't you know anything! Sigh.

Posted by: Cal Gal on February 9, 2006 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

This is not an Abramoff thread, and it must be bad for the right wingnuts to try and distract a new scandal with reminders about an ongoing criminal scandal involving the GOP.

Idiots.

Oh, and this is not an Abramoff thread.

Posted by: Jimm on February 9, 2006 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

Sloppy Liberal

The Harry Reid article has already been examined and debunked. http://www.mydd.com

To quote Scott Shields "For a variety of reasons, some of which I still don't get, the old fashioned media wants very badly for this to be a bipartisan scandal. This is only the latest attempt to make it so. But by leaving out such key information as the fact that Reid never supported the Republicans on the Marianas, the whole story is called into question."

Posted by: Ron Byers on February 9, 2006 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

I've been thinking of opening a Public Relations firm and charging people whenever I post here as a 'PR contact'.

Or have the Republicans beaten me to it?

Posted by: cld on February 9, 2006 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

Libby has decided to finally tell the truth. Good for him. I wonder if "I was just following orders" will fly?

So I guess this proves that Cheney and Bush are not serious about national security and cannot be trusted. They were willing to jeopardize America's security for political gain. But I'm sure it's just bad luck that Libby's trial got scheduled for Jan 2007 after elections.

Posted by: ckelly on February 9, 2006 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

Josh Marshall also beat the daylights out of the Reid story. He did something kinda old fashioned. Honest to God fact checking. Read his post. http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/

Posted by: Ron Byers on February 9, 2006 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

you libs make us all laugh
Posted by: w on February 9, 2006 at 4:09 PM

Yes, we know that the national security of America is a big joke to you, other trolls, the GOP and the Bush administration. A joke, except when it can be used as a tool to keep the sheeple in fear and win elections.

Posted by: ckelly on February 9, 2006 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

Man oh man, has anyone actually read the article? Here I was hoping for something new.....

Waas' article is based on information in the Fitzgerald letter that was filed as a exhibit to a Libby defence motion almost a week ago. All Waas' has done is emphasized one part of the letter.

The 'Cheney told me to do it' defence is in response to Libby's disclosure of the NIE to Miller (remember that?).

Libby (per Fitzgerald's interpretation of Libby's testimony) is NOT suggesting that Cheney told him to leak Plame's identity.

See here at p. 15.

Sorry to sound so irate about it, but honestly people, click the link first!

Posted by: Ruth on February 9, 2006 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

I don't understand how that is a defense for perjury. He isn't charged with revealing secrets, he's charged with lying to a grand jury. Maybe I'm missing something but I don't see how this has anything to do with the charges.

Posted by: bob on February 9, 2006 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: Sloppy Liberal on February 9, 2006 at 4:50 PM

Hey Skippy, next time post a LINK. Or, considering you are completely off topic and your post is irrelevant...don't

Posted by: ckelly on February 9, 2006 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

koreyel: I could be wrong of course...

I hope you're not. I'm getting pretty turned on reading your prediction of events.

Jimm: Oh, and this is not an Abramoff thread.

It does get frustrating watching some of our compadres snap at any troll-generated bait, no matter how obvious, doesn't it?

Posted by: shortstop on February 9, 2006 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

Are you sure?
Posted by: nonesuch on February 9, 2006 at 5:20 PM

I'm sure this isn't an Abramoff thread, moron. What's wrong little trollie - don't like the topic at hand? You know, the one about Cheney and Bush using national security issues as their own little political plaything.

Posted by: ckelly on February 9, 2006 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

I would guess that Libby's crack defense team knows what will work in the courtroom better than the professional Bush haters who have repeatedly demonstrated on this board that they have no understanding of law, science, economics or politics let alone basic moral and ethical principles.

Or, maybe Libby's crack defense team just decided that they were being asked to take the fall for Cheney and decided to let him know that their client wasn't going to be alone in the minimum security prison. They may have been suggesting that Dick do something to help their boy or get out the old striped pajamas!

Posted by: Baldrick on February 9, 2006 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

Stories like this make it increasingly clear that this administration -- even more than Bill Clinton's -- is ruled by Dick.

Posted by: Pat on February 9, 2006 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop,

I am sorry, slapping sloppy liberal down was just too easy.

Look on the bright side, now Kevin doesn't have to blog on the Reid story.

Posted by: Ron Byers on February 9, 2006 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

Baldrick said (at 6:11 PM ): Or, maybe Libby's crack defense team just decided that they were being asked to take the fall for Cheney and decided to let him know that their client wasn't going to be alone in the minimum security prison. They may have been suggesting that Dick do something to help their boy or get out the old striped pajamas!
==============================================

I think it's interesting that Browney may have been sending about that same message earlier today when he made it clear that he would be talking about what went on at FEMA under his watch - unless the Bush Administration directed otherwise and agreed to cover his legal bills. Are the chickens starting to come home to roost?

Posted by: Robert on February 9, 2006 at 6:33 PM | PERMALINK

Libby's just gonna have to have a little "accident" to shut him up but good.

Posted by: Red on February 9, 2006 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

Libby's trying to set it up that his defense will rest on classified documents that the White House holds. If the judge agrees to allow this defense, the White House will refuse to release the documents and the case will be thrown out on the grounds that Libby's due process rights are being violated.

Wah-lah.

Posted by: the good reverend on February 9, 2006 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

Well MoDo did say on the David Letterman Show that all we had to know about Patrick Fitzgerald's criminal investigation is that "Dick Cheney's Guilty".

So it seems not only is Brown threatening the Bushies, now Libby, it seems, doesn't like having to play the scapegoat either. It also seems as if the heat is on and Patrick's pitbull legal teeth are starting to worry Libby enough to flip him against Cheney.

So here's to sing that "Cheney did it"!

And it's shades of Nixon and the lawyer John Dean.

Nixon fell apart when he started scapegoating, so you'd think that Cheney would understand that scapegoating brought Nixon down. Maybe it's because Nixon listen too much to Dick Cheney, especially about illegal wiretapping.

Posted by: Cheryl on February 9, 2006 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, just checked the Marshall piece, he did not "debunk" anything in the article above. Just said "all these need to be looked at" and that Reid didn't actually do anything on the Marianas deal (which the article did not allege). Nothing debunked. Zero debunkage. Marshall's site is a debunk-free zone, at least today.

Posted by: lobi on February 9, 2006 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

The whole point of the story was that Reid was tied to Ambromoff's client and was giving a "quid pro quo" vote for campaign contributions.

There was no follow up by Reid to undemine the ban on min. wage law in Marianas. In fact, just the opposite, he was a supporter of the bill. Therefore, the story was debunked.

Posted by: D. on February 9, 2006 at 7:52 PM | PERMALINK

This just doesn't make any sense. Libby knows who's paying his bills, sponsoring his cushy job, and will give him a pardon if he keeps the omerta... why would he do this? Unless Dick knows he's untouchable, and gave Libby license to throw chaff in the air.

Posted by: tinfoil on February 9, 2006 at 8:33 PM | PERMALINK

tinfoil and others: As Ruth said, read the article and you'll understand what's going on.

and...

"the White House will refuse to release the documents and the case will be thrown out on the grounds that Libby's due process rights are being violated."

Yes to a point, but unfortunately Fitzgerald is representing the 'government' and will be the one to refuse the documents (Presidential Daily Briefs). I can't imagine that this is going to work. Fitzgerald has already said that the case against Libby did not rely on PDBs so there is no reason that they should be needed by Libby.

Posted by: nepeta on February 9, 2006 at 9:00 PM | PERMALINK

The GW Bush Administration is the most corrupt administration in the history of the Republic. They out CIA agents, lie a nation into war, use fear to bludgeon the public it serves and open our government to special interest lobbyists.

If there is a God in heaven, I hope He/She/It remembers Bush, Cheney and all their lapdog minions when their judgement days arrive.

Posted by: Dodger on February 9, 2006 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK

I mentioned earlier that Kevin doesn't need to blog the Reid story. It has been knocked down by Josh Marshall and lots of other, but MSNBC is running the story with a headline "Top Democrat Reid met often with Abramoff" that the story doesn't even remotely imply. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11261035/

Maybe it is time for us all to stand up and demand MSNBC at least read the story it is running with, and maybe read Marshall's piece.

Posted by: Ron Byers on February 9, 2006 at 10:33 PM | PERMALINK

Asking for the PDBs to explain his perjury is one thing. The same defense strategy used by North.

Saying that the leak of classified Iraq classified was approved by Cheney et al is something different, larger, and seemingly unrelated to his current charges. It just doesn't seem like he would blame 'higher-ups' (to the extent that excuse is even credible) if he is counting on their continuing support and eventual pardon.


Posted by: tinfoil on February 9, 2006 at 10:53 PM | PERMALINK

I see what you mean, tinfoil. But isn't it because Libby said Cheney gave him permission that the PDBs are being requested? Maybe not.
So, two separate avenues.

Posted by: nepeta on February 9, 2006 at 11:00 PM | PERMALINK

well, it's very convenient for him to blame the higherups though, isn't it. kinda self-serving. let's see how this one actually pans out and if there's something to it other than just blame shifting before we get too excited, huh?

Posted by: clock on February 9, 2006 at 11:06 PM | PERMALINK

Where are Al and Cheney? They haven't gotten the party line memo yet, I guess.

Posted by: JS on February 9, 2006 at 11:54 PM | PERMALINK

It doesn't matter. He is charged with perjury, not broadcasting classified information.

Posted by: Eli Rabett on February 10, 2006 at 12:07 AM | PERMALINK

Does Microsoft own a part of MSNBC? I would think that they could be leaned on if that was the case. This ass licking has got to stop.

Posted by: moe99 on February 10, 2006 at 3:05 AM | PERMALINK

I just find it hilarious that things have got so bad for the right wingnuts that the troll bait and evasive strategy they use to distract the thread brings up another GOP criminal scandal, as if there aren't better things to bring up that don't implicate the GOP in serious criminal activity.

Posted by: Jimm on February 10, 2006 at 3:09 AM | PERMALINK

I would guess that Libby's crack defense team knows what will work in the courtroom better than the professional Bush haters who have repeatedly demonstrated on this board that they have no understanding of law, science, economics or politics let alone basic moral and ethical principles.

I may not be a criminal mastermind nor a criminal lawyer, but I am fairly confident of the conclusion that not is Libby confessing to the perjury charge, but he is also confessing to the charge he is trying to avoid by lying in the first palce - revealing an undercover agent's name.

Posted by: mikmik on February 10, 2006 at 4:33 AM | PERMALINK

Amusing to watch the rats snap at each other as the water draws closer. I do hope we'll see them draw blood.

Posted by: yapok on February 10, 2006 at 4:45 AM | PERMALINK

If you are wondering where the trolls are today, it is just hard to get worked up over this non story story.

www.Powerlineblog.com said it way better than I could. This trial is still about Libby, not Cheney. This is not the revelation that is going to drag Cheney into it, nor is it going to get him impeached. The reading comprehension deficit among many of the regulars here is just discouraging.

BTW, Fox News also made it sound like Libby was referring to the 'Plame leak', idiocy sure does make strange bedfellows.

Have your celebration children. Oh yeah, and keep ranting on about Ohio, it is so attractive.

Posted by: tool of some sort on February 10, 2006 at 7:48 AM | PERMALINK

Hey tool, it's better than them whaaa whhaaaa wwhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa-ing about Florida, no?

Posted by: lobi on February 10, 2006 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

"this comment board is political sesame street."

Well, at least it's got some educational value, unlike your gig, Dubya Smurf.

I mean, what kind of dialogue is this?
"We'll smurf him like he's never been smurfed before!" - Karl Smurf
"Go smurf yourself." - Big-time Smurf
"a thousand points of light." - Poppy Smurf

And who had the temerity to cast Karen Hughes as Smurfette? That may be unconstitutional.
(shudder)

Posted by: kenga on February 10, 2006 at 9:11 AM | PERMALINK

troll of some sort: Have your celebration children. Oh yeah, and keep ranting on about Ohio, it is so attractive.

The desperation is palpable.

Ah (stretching arms over head luxuriously), it's a good week to be a Democrat.

Posted by: shortstop on February 10, 2006 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

This trial is still about Libby, not Cheney.

Keep deluding yourself, PajamaBoy. The rest of the world knows you're just hiding from reality.

That's ok, we understand why you're askeered. And yes, we are laughing at you, not with you.

Posted by: melior on February 10, 2006 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

Am I missing something? Shouldn't this be the headline that is being discussed in shocked tones on every news program and blog? I mean, if Cheney authorized this, isn't it grounds to impeach Cheney? What's going on here?

Posted by: catherineD on February 10, 2006 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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