Domestic Spying and Opposition Research

Digby has been demonstrating how the DOJ got taken over by a bunch of hack opposition researchers (see also this post).

And again, what were the Pat Robertson’ U grad Goodling’s primaryqualifications before joining the Department of Justice? She workedwith Barbara Comstock and Timothy Griffin (the US Attorney fromArkansas who Rove pushed through under the patriot act) at the BushCheney oppo research department in 2000.

It doesn’t automatically make her a criminal, but it sure stinks of unethical politicization of the Justice Department.

She goes onto make what seems to be a generalized comment.

Many of us were told to pipe down when we complained that the JusticeDepartment and the NSA had been involved in spying on Americans with nooversight.But now that we know that Barbara Comstock, Monica Goodling and TimGriffin, Karl Rove’s personal smear artists, were promoted to thehighest reaches of the federal police agencies with access to recordson their political opponents and every other American, then it’s clearthat we weren’t suspicious enough. At this point, I think we have toassume that with these people in charge and having the use of all thenew powers of the Patriot Act, there have been no limits at all on thepartisan, political use of the government’s investigative powers.

To which I’d like to raise a specific example. MZM. MZM, you see, was contracted to engage in some of the most abusive domestic spying under DOD’s CIFA program (contracted through the part of DOD, incidentally, where Mitch Wade first got his start under Dick Cheney in the early 1990s). And Carol Lam got fired for getting too close to Brent Wilkes’ and Dusty Foggo’s ties to Duke Cunningham’s pocketbook. Not to mention getting to close to Jerry Lewis, who as Chair of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee approved the key contracts to MZM. So I’d like to suggest that these issues–the politicization of DOJ, the firing of Carol Lam, and the interruption of the investigation into Lewis and Foggo and Wilkes may be more closely related than we know.

  1. John B. says:

    Hmmm…domestic spying under the radar of Congress and under the aegis of new terrorism related powers…
    real slick…

    emptywheel and digby researching and sleuthing together…what a team.

    you guys rock.

  2. AZ Matt says:

    Good work EW. I think while there are still plenty of rocks to be turned over what has been done so far is pretty amazing. Waxman is crushing these frauds in a mannner that requires investment in more popcorn.

    Additional USA story now in NYT’s on Paul Charlton in Arizona: Crime Intensifies Debate Over Taping of Suspects

  3. orionATL says:

    now this is interesting.

    but limited only to honest-to-god â€peace activistsâ€? i doubt it.

    â€peace activists†would just be the best name to use in any public statements about bush spying.

    everybody has a mental picture of peace activists as fringe crackpots. no sympathy likely for that group.


    might a democratic senator or congressman opposing the war be a peace activist?

    might a solder writing from iraq be a peace activists?

    might european or asian diplomats be peace activists?

    cindy sheehan? almost certainly, but she’s certainly no crackpot.

    anti-war ministers?

    anti-war mayors and aldermen?

    by now, six years into the bush gang’s history, it is entirely appropriate to EXPECT the worst from these boys in any activity they are involved in.

    i would bet there is equivalency between:

    peace activist =

    anti-invasion critic =

    anti-bush critic.

  4. undecided says:

    What’s the underlying purpose of the domestic spying programs? Is it only to get dirt on political enemies, or is that only a byproduct?

    Is someone interested in creating the infrastructure to establish and maintain a police state?

  5. Anonymous says:

    EW-I understand that your picture of this matter is far out in front of what I might yet see clearly but I would like to just mention a few things about the footing of moving ahead. I am glad to see you wrapping your thinking around this one. The forensics developed in the Libby episode are helpful here but framing the wrong with respect to the corruption of the DOJ will be indeed require a special skill as the facts again will vast and labyrinthine. Still an innate sense of justice I would think will go far in unravelling this matter. I for one applaud you for staying after â€it.â€

    Orrin Hatch says there is no evidence of improper motives, but it is completly within the realm of reasoning established in employment case law to rebut any pretext as to a permissible reason for firing Carol Lam with an inference that the proximity in time of Lam’s dismissal and say her closing in on MZM suggests improper motives. Because evidence is circumstantial, this in turn does not render it non-existant. At the very least it gives cause for a â€rigorous†inquiry moving forward. And how ready Hatch is to ignore the connections shown between Goodling, Domenici, Rove’s staff, Heather Wilson and the comment that Rove made to Gonzales concerning lax prosecution of â€voter fraud†cases in three districts which would presumably include my home state New Mexico. I wonder why there was no follow-up. In any event, there is evidence, albeit lots of smoke at this point, certainly beyond the point of sounding the alarm.

    The other thing that amazes me is that Sampson gave not one iota of particular testimony, source and substance, with respect to what was said to him about any USA while he was aggregating. Although he feigned earnestness well this obviously intentional dance around the truth is, in my view, utterly egregious and his lack of memory in these respects is not believable.

  6. whenwego says:

    EW, you scored a BIG one here. I bet you that you will find even the AT&T spying operation was outsourced to, hold your breath, AT&T!

  7. P J Evans says:

    undecided @ 18:21

    All of the above. Remember ’you’re either with us or against us’? All those speeches (including several by Bush41) equating Democrats/ACLU members/liberals with traitors?

  8. Dismayed says:

    And there you have it. I have no difficulty what-so-ever believing your outtamyarse theory, EW. I’m not that worried about the dominos falling at this point. I think Dick, Dope, and Co. are in deep shit. I am, however, facinated with watching the implosion.

  9. jwp says:


    I doubt the $140,000 is a coincidence, but I also doubt that Cheney was channeling a bribe to Cunningham. More likely, in my view, Cheney’s office was helping to expand an off-the-shelf — wasn’t Wilkes company already established in that role — and Wade received $140,000. Next, Wade needed a bribe, and offered all that he had.

    My guess.

  10. kspena says:

    The thinking in this thread, especially the question of why the domestic spying, reminds me of a statement from one of the investigative reporters in the Niger/leak case. I cannot remember who; maybe Dreyfuss or Giraldi. What he said was that the WHIG group, operating out of the VPs office, was not just spinning PR and fantasy; they all had security clearances and were using ill begotten and classified information on their enemies. If that’s true, such information would save them the trouble of breaking into someone’s office. Just a thought.

  11. pdaly says:

    Great timeline!

    If the neocons are expert at anything it is enamelling their illegal misdeeds retroactively with legal cover (for other examples, think Cheney’s insta-declassification powers & NIE=Plame outing, Bush & torture, etc., etc.)

    Given the new vantage point provided by this MZM/USA timeline, do passages in the renewed and â€improved†Patriot Act now take on new ’meaning’(i.e., new legal cover for outsourced contractors to provide the WH with material from domestic spying?)

    Seems this plan depended on a continued republican majority in Congress to prevent these investigations. But thinking more broadly, what devices could exist today that shelter their crazy machinery from such a change in the political winds or any future uncooperative US President?

    A poorly written Tom Clancy novel comes to mind (forgot the title): an â€investment company†with ex-intelligence agency types as private contractors with Presidential permission to spy on and kill (with state of the art, untraceable neurotoxins) â€evil people†at will, access to NSA intercepts insider Wallstreet trading info to game the system and reap $millions in the stock market to fund black ops thus freeing themselves of Congressional oversight, and a vault in the CEO’s office with several pre-signed presidential pardons ’just in case’).

    Bush once said something like ’There is nothing I wouldn’t do to protect the interests of the American people.’

    Substitute the words ’American people’ with the word ’neocons’ and his statement has the ring of truth.

  12. Anonymous says:

    The dangerous thing when you they started spidering those connections was that a database would be created that archived the links. Very important to make sure that some second node pizza parlor didn’t lead to something unpleasant.

    Either plug into the search algorithm, or prune the database.

  13. Kenevan McConnon says:

    Rather than use the term â€outamyarse,†I would recommend â€rectal estimate.†More exact. Also, it is important to note that an Emptywheel â€rectal estimate†is far more reliable than a KCM â€shart.â€

  14. junior birdman says:

    †… then Deputy Secretary of Defense for Counter-Intelligence Burtt ( the guy who resigned yesterday ) …. â€

    do you have a link for this ?

  15. Bugboy says:

    Come on folks keep your eye on the ball, at least part of this story is life-time Federal judiciary appointments, which I am convinced was what â€Buzzsaw†Goodling and â€Mini-Me†Sampson were being groomed for, on the outside chance that they might luck out on a SCOTUS post.

    There’s more rot to this below the surface, I don’t know how one would go about looking at it but someone needs to analyze Fed bench appointments over the last few years and projected vacancies for the next 2.

  16. Anonymous says:

    junior birdman

    That reference goes back to the post from which I took the chronology, from last AUgust.

    In any case, here is the article.

  17. phred says:

    I’m not convinced that Abu is still around because of Bush’s legendary loyalty. There is one person Bush cares about and that is himself. If it served his interests he’d cut Gonzales loose faster than you could say heckofajob. Gonzales still serves a very very useful purpose — he’s buying Bush time. EW I think your speculation lies very close to the mark. Everything Rove has done has been in service of establishing their Permanent Majority. That objective can only be reached through political manipulation, which includes redistricting, purging voter rolls, trumped up charges of voter fraud, and now, quite probably spying on the opposition. The only hope these guys have now is 2008 and they will go down swinging. As long as Gonzales stays put the spying can continue unabated leading up to the election. Gonzales will not resign and he will not be fired. Ultimately Congress will have to impeach him and the longer that takes the better for Rove et al.

  18. Mimikatz says:

    It’s not only one thing, unless that one thing is the Permanent Republican Majority. It is gathering oppo data, and funneling contracts to people who can be shaken down for campaign cash, and fixing elections, and getting favorable US Attorneys, and getting friendlies in the judiciary so that none of it can ever be prosecuted.

  19. makesenseofit says:

    This administration will make the Nixon administration look like
    happy meal once its all said and done.

  20. Henry says:

    1966,Paterson,N.J. Got ataste of identifying a terrorist dead.The sick lesson was never learn no one lied and learned,do not thank or say sorry,find a slightly different path no matyer how slight,change is unavoidable.A hero in the mis,good triumphs.information,sixteen years before 11 September 2001 ,handed to local authority ,wealthest buisness men also knew all buisness owners in Paterson,N.J. also knew.look for me on the blacklist known to teamsters,U.S. government,and local and forieghn criminals