Michael Horowitz Issues a Threat

I wanted to call attention to the Michael Horowitz letter in support of leniency for Libby. Horowitz issues a thinly-veiled threat to retaliate if Libby has to do jail time.

Disposition of the Libby case will have much to do with whether the country will further and gravely descend into “us v. them” feelings of bitterness and contention. As the Bork case led inexorably to the Clinton impeachment, so can the case before the Court profoundly criminalize and poison the country’s political process with calls for retribution on the part of many who will never believe–never–that Scooter merits criminal punishment or, God forbid, incarceration. It is an irony that Scooter would be the last to support such an embittering development, but the esteem in which he is held is such that any but the most Solomon-like disposition of his case could easily ensure this occurrence.

Horowitz’ linking of the Bork failure with the Clinton impeachment is no mere throwaway: Horowitz was tied to both events. He provided the inspiration for the Federalist Society.

The Society’s origins can be traced back to 1979–the year before Ronald Reagan�s victory–when a legal scholar named Michael Horowitz published a tract on the public-interest law movement, exhorting conservatives to overturn a half-century of liberal dominance of the legal establishment. This could be done, he wrote, by indoctrinating or winning over succeeding generations of law students, lawyers, and judges. By definition, the campaign had to be rooted in the fertile ground of law schools. To Horowitz’s good fortune, Reagan was elected in 1980, and his administration set to work filling the sails of the Federalist movement.

One purpose of the Federalist Society, of course, was to place people like Bork in lifetime appointments to the bench.

Horowitz’s concept was taken up with relish by senior members of the new Administration. They operated on two tracks–designed to insure that the Reagan Revolution would well outlast the Reagan Presidency. The first, to reclaim the Federal courts from liberals, swept an array of conservative scholars and judges from law schools and state courts onto the Federal bench: the likes of Robert Bork, Ralph Winter, Antonin Scalia, Richard Posner, Sandra Day O�Connor, and Anthony Kennedy.

And as to Clinton’s impeachment, Horowitz had his hand in that as one of the founders of the Arkansas Project.

Indeed, one of the initial meetings to set up the Arkansas Project was held at [Ted] Olson’s downtown Washington, D.C., office at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. Mintz also was at the meeting. Among others in attendance were Ronald Burr, then the publisher of the American Spectator; Michael Horowitz, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank funded by Scaife; and Boynton and Henderson, who came to direct the day-to-day activities of the Arkansas Project.

The Arkansas Project hounded the Clintons until it could find something, anything–one measly blow job–with which it could justify impeachment.

So here is Michael Horowitz telling you, in a letter sent to a judge, that the impeachment he set out to accomplish “led inexorably” from the failure of the appointment he tried to accomplish. And while the term “inexorably” suggests the events followed naturally, as if by magic, we know they actually happened with the help and direction of Horowitz and Richard Mellon Scaife’s pocket book. For almost anyone else, the yoking of Bork’s failed nomination to Clinton’s penis might qualify as a twisted observation. But from Horowitz, who participated in the deliberations surrounding both events, it must be read as something more. Horowitz’ predictions of “calls for retribution” are no mere prediction, but a threat, precisely because he has carried out such “retribution” in the past.

What I don’t understand, though, is the target of his threat. Is Horowitz threatening to impeach the second President Clinton (or President Obama) because a staunchly independent prosecutor, appointed by a loyal Republican, prosecuted Libby for covering up Dick Cheney’s role in the outing of a CIA NOC? Is he threatening to attack Democrats because a hard-nosed Republican appointee followed court guidelines and treated Libby with the same sternness he treats African-American drug dealers?

Or is Horowitz threatening to retaliate against Judge Walton himself, who was appointed by George W Bush and recently named by Chief Justice Roberts to the FISA Court? These right wingers aren’t above threatening judges, after all, though it’s not usually the Republican appointees they target.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

  1. Anonymous says:

    With every post of yours I read, every day that goes by, every light you shine on this well tuned gaggle of monsters I am more and more convinced of the genius of Patrick Fitzgerald not to mention his remarkable courage.

  2. Neil says:

    Now that’s a thesis!

    For almost anyone else, the yoking of Bork’s failed nomination to Clinton’s penis might qualify as a twisted observation. But from Horowitz, who participated in the deliberations surrounding both events, it must be read as something more. Horowitz’ predictions of â€calls for retribution†are no mere prediction, but a threat, precisely because he has carried out such â€retribution†in the past.

    and I agree. Perhaps Horowitz is intentionally ambiguous about the target becuase he does not know yet either. Malicious.

  3. alabama says:

    Is Horowitz’s rant really, or merely, so intimidating?

    There’s another way to read it–viz., that the protracted assassination-attempt against Clinton really did fail (I’m in the minority here, but can make the argument sing if invited to do so); and that the right wingers (some of them, anyway) rather dread the thought of getting entangled in yet another endless, all-consuming, tedious, self-defeating â€Jihadâ€. To me, at least, Horowitz sounds very old.

    It’s time to call their bluff. This country is also theirs, after all, and they’ve done a lot to wreck it in ways that haven’t advanced their cause in any way. Some of them sense this obvious fact, even if they can’t process it from within the prison-cells of their stunted intellects.

    One way to call their bluff is to publish the â€story†of the Federalist Society, and to publish it in every possible way. Publish the â€story†of each and every one of its members (to the extent that this doesn’t drive us mad with boredom).

    I mean, just watch what’s happening with Bork and his $1 million tort suit against the Yale Club! Isn’t this just what the doctor ordered?

  4. KLynn says:

    Alabama:

    Publish the â€storyâ€.

    Absolutely, correct. (Adding in the lives which have been destroyed by their work.)

    The Federalist Society â€war†on liberalism dovetailes nicely with the pro-life â€war on choiceâ€. The mindset is quite strong and there is a Justified War metality within both camps. A mindset of: any actions which result in â€killing†anything that seems liberal in any sense, may be deemed as justified and â€ethical†if not a praise offering. It has built a frenzy, a sicken frenzy of an altered state of the comprehension of justice and â€what is rightâ€.

    When my own work in DC brought me face to face with this nexis in the early 90’s, I became aware of the deep, critical crisis our country was coming to and that even â€justice†in this country would be at risk. Suddenly, I saw the Constitution being looked at not for the rule of law but how to break the rule of law without breaking the law. As well as, how to interpret the Constitution without regard to the intent of the Constitution.

    It seems there is a loss of the understanding of hard work, fair play, liberty and justice for all. The spoils of their war will be the deconstruction of Constitutional rights. I know, preaching to the chior…

    EW, I think you are correct to be noting the Horowitz letter and the implied content. Could this be interpreted as a threat against Walton and perhaps a federal offense? He needs to be â€called†on the carpet for his letter. As do Libby’s Lawyers for allowing a letter containing a veiled threat. (That is if they submitted the letters as a collection. Was the Horowitz letter sent in separate cover?)

    EW, Your cogent insight is beyond compare. Thank you for your efforts. How about a Sunday â€tubes†talk show with you, Christie and Jane and [email protected]? It would put any Sunday News Show to shame because it would actually be news and have great depth of knowledge and fact finding. Or a kind of Washington Week In Review of blogs news? Maybe it’s out there and I have not found it…

  5. ab initio says:

    What is interesting is the single-mindedness of the neo-con wingnuts to grab and retain power by any means. For them the ends justify the means. The reason why the country is in such trouble is that there has been no concerted effort to discredit and oppose the neo-con agenda. Where are the opposing think tanks, legal scholars, talk show pundits, op-ed writers and corporate media reporters?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Us vs. them?
    Making a double standard of justice more double standardy would certainly accelerate those feelings.
    Bushie advocated for a lifetime sentence for 3 convictions.
    Scooter has FOUR felony convictions.

  7. mighty mouse says:

    Where were all the letter writers when Bush was sending inmates to their deaths in Texas? If Bush does pardon Libby–just for fairness and balance and context and all–somebody should shout from the rooftops the stats on all those on death row when Bush was governor–all those worthy of no mercy from the deciderer.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Let Horowitz and his ilk be darned! and Let Scooter rot a bit in jail. A felon is a felon and ain’t that Justice in the US of A. So much ado about so little!

    From a confirmed canajun!

  9. William Ockham says:

    I totally missed the significance of this particular letter when I did my quick scan (and to the language pedants in the crowd, â€quick scan†is exactly what I mean) of them. I did not realize who Michael Horowitz was. Now I am really curious about the incident where he admits to lying to federal investigators. Anybody know what that’s about?

  10. Ethel-to-Tilly says:

    HA! He’s talking as if the rabid right would actually accept the legitimacy of a Democratic president and not have an â€us v. them†attitude regardless. So when the right goes back to war on the next Democratic president in 2009, it will all be Judge Walton’s fault. Right….

  11. Mauimom says:

    EW: â€threatening to impeach the second President Clinton (or President Obama)â€

    Could I put in a plea to expand this to â€President Edwards†[particularly in light of the recent postings here about the importance of addressing poverty] or â€President Goreâ€?

  12. Dismayed says:

    A little mean man petty man, who has lost. With a dem congress any threat of impeachment will leave Horowits with his smeckle in his hand.

    I must say, excellent post. You pull diamonds out of pig shit like nothing I’ve ever seen.

    This makes it pretty clear that Cliton had it EXACTLY right when he said, â€vast Right Wing conspiracy.†Poor guy it was all around him just waiting for somthing to suck into the ooze.

  13. orionATL says:

    e’wheel

    i was wondering whether there was any connection between the events in your immediately previous post on bandar bin bush and bae and this post.

    one deals with what i suppose you could call covert foreign policy operations

    and this one deals implicitly -thru horowitz’s connection to both the federalist society and the arkansas project – with a covert operations designed to strongly effect american politics and the federal government.

    don’t read too much into this question, but does horowitz have any connections with the foreign policy neo-cons or with amercian zionism, by any chance?

    in any event, it’s seems from your posts that american government has been under persistent and wide-ranging pressure from covert operations by right-wingers for some time.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Mauimom

    That was not meant to be an endorsement of either Hillary or Obama. Just trying to get into Horowitz’ little head to imagine what he might have been thinking when he said this.

  15. Tom Hunt says:

    â€though it’s not usually the Republican appointees they targetâ€
    You’re probably too young to remember â€Impeach Earl Warrenâ€

  16. Alison says:

    EW,

    I thought your mind might quiet down with the time you were taking off to be with your Mom.

    Not so much, eh? It seems like the Libby sentencing is producing lots of ore for you to smelt into precious metals.

    You go, girl!

    Alison

  17. Anonymous says:

    Eh, I beat my mom in two straight games of Scrabble (though narrowly both times), which is a rare event in my life. So she may have riled up the old brain, really.

  18. der says:

    Or is much of this a strategy of future intimidation of Gonzalez’ successor? I, no VRWC believer [look! a flying saucer!], think that Fitz had Karl’s indictment in hand until Al told him to stuff it and mostly for that reason is why Bush continues to support his AG AG. If Gonzalez goes out comes Rove’s trip to Reggie’s court and even more erosion of the Republican face mask and more losses in ’08. These guys are good, very good…and know just what they’re doing, not caring a wit about the constitution or â€the people†who don’t live in their â€houseâ€. It is and always will be about raw power – playas and reality makers.

  19. freepatriot says:

    mr horowitz should check the record before he decides to join â€Themâ€

    mr horowitz don’t have the luxury of joining the â€Us†team, cuz the â€Us†team is made up of law abiding patriotic Americans

    and the â€Them†team has NEVER DEFEATED â€Us†on American soil

    if mr horowitz wants to fight against the People Of The United States, he’s welcome to try

    how did that whole â€reconstruction†thingy work out for the south anyway ???

    btw, mr horowitz, we ain’t gonna be nice and polite this time (and the â€nice and polite†way included burning Atlanta and Coplumbia South Carolina the last time some idiots tried this)

    so pick up your stars and bars flag and declare your unpatriotic fucking self mr horowitz

    I can’t wait until the boys from Massachutetts et al kick your ass again

    the south shall fall again

  20. Horatio Parker says:

    What I don’t understand, though, is the target of his threat. Is Horowitz threatening to impeach the second President Clinton (or President Obama) because a staunchly independent prosecutor, appointed by a loyal Republican, prosecuted Libby for covering up Dick Cheney’s role in the outing of a CIA NOC? Is he threatening to attack Democrats because a hard-nosed Republican appointee followed court guidelines and treated Libby with the same sternness he treats African-American drug dealers?

    Or is Horowitz threatening to retaliate against Judge Walton himself, who was appointed by George W Bush and recently named by Chief Justice Roberts to the FISA Court? These right wingers aren’t above threatening judges, after all, though it’s not usually the Republican appointees they target.

    None of the above. Retribution will happen anyway, regardless of the outcome. But if Judge Walton is intimidated into leniency,so much the better.

  21. joejoejoe says:

    Democrats like Chuck Schumer need to refer to the â€now discredited Federalist Society†every time they talk about it’s members. Most of these legal issues take a bit of thought to realize what is and isn’t a good idea but if it starts to seep into conciousness that the Federalist Society is discredited (because of the USA scandal, the stacking of the judiciary with partisan hacks, a legal philosophy that finds no compelling reason to grant women the right to vote or blacks their freedom, etc.) then the Federalist Society will BE discredited.

    The now discredited Federalist Society has no business playing a role in the selection or appointment of members of the court or it’s officers.

  22. Mimikatz says:

    Horatio has it. Horowitz is trying to create a climate in which violent retribution will be seen as just. This ties in with Digby’s recent posts about the potential for a resurgence of right-wing violence if the Dems take over in 2008.

    Some of this is just the last throes of the culture wars of the ’60’s and after, but it does seem that the wingnut crazies calmed down after 2001. Whether that was a resurgence of patriotism after 9/11 or the effects of the GOP hegemony or some combination I don’t know, but my guess is that it will resurface in 2009 if the Dems do take over.

    In anticipation, we need to make clear what is acceptable dissent and that violence has no part in that. And young people really need to repudiate the excessive Boomer ideological wars.

  23. Jan from NH says:

    I’ve happened upon this site very recently via FDL, via TPM… and on this journey because I didn’t believe the 16 words the moment I heard them.
    Now, so many years later, here we are.

    I know I do not just speak for myself when I tell you how much I appreciate the serious enlightment you’ve given to so many people regarding this matter.
    A very heartfelt THANK YOU!
    (and I’ll still be tuning in for insightful updates)
    Best!