Would Obama Issue First Veto to Protect Anthrax Whitewash?

Bloomberg is reporting that Office of Management and Budget head Peter Orszag has told the intelligence committees Obama will veto the intelligence authorization because–among other reasons–it calls for re-examining the FBI’s conspiracy theory-as-investigation summary finding that Bruce Ivins acted alone. (h/t fatster)

President Barack Obama probably would veto legislation authorizing the next budget for U.S. intelligence agencies if it calls for a new investigation into the 2001 anthrax attacks, an administration official said.A proposed probe by the intelligence agencies’ inspector general “would undermine public confidence” in an FBI probe of the attacks “and unfairly cast doubt on its conclusions,” Peter Orszag, director of the Office of Management and Budget, wrote in a letter to leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence committees.


To sustain its claim that Ivins, rather than an accomplice, mailed the anthrax from Princeton, FBI engaged in addled speculation worthy of the Kennedy assassination. And now Obama is worried about “public confidence” in those addled speculations?

And shouldn’t there be an investigation of the investigation, at the least, because of the way FBI botched the investigation and framed Steven Hatfill?

If the investigation can’t bear any scrutiny, then I’d say there’s probably a good reason, and therefore a good reason to do an Inspector General investigation.

But I guess the President who advocates transparency is against that.

RawStory has a good summary of both this issue and the other targets of Obama’s veto threat: Congressional notification and GAO oversight of intelligence.

Is THIS Why Congress Folded on FISA?!?!?

There’s a DOJ IG report focusing on Alberto Gonzales tomorrow–but it’s not the one we’ve all been anxiously anticipating (the one on the US Attorney firings). Rather, this one arose (I believe) out of the clear evidence that Gonzales discussed classified details about the warrantless wiretap program in front of John Ashcroft’s wife, who was sitting in his ICU hospital room on March 10, 2004 when Gonzales and Andy Card stormed into the room to try to get Ashcroft to sign off on the warrantless wiretap program. From James Comey’s testimony, it appeared that Gonzales may well have divulged details of this program to someone not authorized to hear them, and from that DOJ’s Inspector General investigated whether Gonzales had broken the law when he did so.

But Gonzales’ blabbing in front of Mrs. Ashcroft aren’t the details from the DOJ IG report that got leaked to the WaPo–by all appearances, by Gonzales’ attorney George Terwilliger. Instead, the WaPo focuses on the new revelation that, after January 2005, Gonzales was wandering around DC with notes from the meeting between the Administration and the Gang of Eight that took place on March 10, 2004.

Former attorney general Alberto R. Gonzales improperly handled classified information about some of the government’s most sensitive national security programs, but authorities will not recommend that he face criminal sanctions, according to officials familiar with an investigative report to be released today.


At issue are notes that Gonzales took during a March 2004 meeting between President Bush and congressional leaders in the White House Situation Room, as a program that allowed authorities to secretly monitor communications for evidence of terrorist plots was set to expire.

When Gonzales, then White House counsel, moved to become the Justice Department’s top official in early 2005, he failed to secure the notes in a sensitive compartmentalized facility, the inspector general has concluded. Gonzales kept the notes in a safe in his office and at times took them to and from work in a briefcase — practices that violated protocols for the handling of classified materials, according to people familiar with the report.

In a memo to the inspector general, Gonzales’s advisers characterized the episode as an unintentional mistake and a technical violation of the rules. [my emphasis]

Read more