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ACLU FOIAs CIA for Documents on Juan Cole

The ACLU has just FOIAed the CIA and Director of National Intelligence for any information on Juan Cole. It asks for,

e-mails, letters, faxes, or other correspondence, memoranda, contemporaneous notes of meetings or phone calls, reports or any other material relating to the gathering, collecting, copying, collating, generating or other use of information and material regarding Professor Cole,

The FOIA is addressed to CIA, Director of National Intelligence, and DOJ.

Now, far be it for me to tell ACLU how to FOIA–after all, they’re the best in the business at wringing embarrassing documents out of the government.

But they might want to FOIA DOD, too.

You see, there’s something that has been haunting me about this description from James Risen’s story on this.

According to Mr. Carle, Mr. Low returned from a White House meeting one day and inquired who Juan Cole was, making clear that he wanted Mr. Carle to gather information on him. Mr. Carle recalled his boss saying, “The White House wants to get him.”“ ‘What do you think we might know about him, or could find out that could discredit him?’ ” Mr. Low continued, according to Mr. Carle.

Mr. Carle said that he warned that it would be illegal to spy on Americans and refused to get involved, but that Mr. Low seemed to ignore him.

That first request elicited, Carle told Amy Goodman, four paragraphs of information, one of which included derogatory information.

GLENN CARLE: Yes, that’s correct. I was—the following day, I came to work and was asked to represent my office at the senior staff meeting, which is routine. And I did. And it was also routine that I take a memorandum of some sort up to the front office, I believe, for the White House. And I thought that I should know what I was doing for the morning, and I read the memo, and it was a memo on Professor Cole with four paragraphs, as I recall, only one of which was about inappropriate personal information. The other three struck me as innocuous. I don’t remember specifically what they said, but one of the four.

Now maybe it’s Carle’s reference, also in the Democracy Now interview, to the Plame outing. But I can’t help but think of how the White House got people across the national security community to reveal that Plame worked for the CIA: They kept asking for information on Wilson’s trip, long after they had already gotten the information they purportedly needed. So, for example, the day after John Hannah briefed Cheney on the trip, Cheney asked someone at CIA for more information on the trip, using incorrect information that would need corrected (I suspect this request was made at a Deputies Committee meeting at the White House, and I think Libby is the one who formally made the request). Then, two days later and almost certainly after Cheney had been briefed personally by (he says) George Tenet as well as (records show) John McLaughlin, and almost certainly after Libby had gotten information from Marc Grossman on Plame’s work at the CIA, Cheney and Libby called the CIA from a meeting with Cathie Martin, to ask for information they already knew. That call was ultimately how Martin learned, from Bill Harlow, that Plame worked for the CIA.

You see, the White House kept asking for the same information they already knew so they could try to get the CIA to share that information in a way they could use it. Of course, along the way, they increased the circle of people who knew that information, which is one of the things that led to the leak of Plame’s identity.

Now, this may not be what is happening here: an attempt to get CIA to take note of information about Cole the White House believed was derogatory.

But it would be worth checking to see whether likely co-participants in a meeting with National Intelligence Council’s David Low or CIA’s Deputy Director for intelligence, John A. Kringen also got similar requests–not least because DOD, with its CIPA program, would likely have been less squeamish about digging up dirt on Cole.

In any case, given the way the government responds to FOIAs, we’ll probably learn more about this in 5 years or so.

Why Didn’t We Ask China to Find Scooter Libby’s Missing Plame Leak E-Mails?

WSJ has an article reporting on the purportedly Chinese-launched GMail hacks that targeted top White House officials.

The article is interesting not because it claims the Chinese want to hack top officials. Who do you think they’d be most interested in hacking?

Rather, the article is interesting for some of the implications bandied about in the article. For example, Darrell Issa and CREW’s Melanie Sloan suggest the only reason the Chinese would hack the GMail accounts of White House officials is if those people were improperly conducting official business on GMail.

“If all White House officials were following rules prohibiting the use of personal email for official business, there would simply be no sensitive information to find,” said Rep. Darrell Issa, Republican chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and a frequent thorn in the Obama administration’s side. “Unfortunately, we know that not everyone at the White House follows those rules and that creates an unnecessary risk.”

Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog group, said the hacking “suggests China believes government officials are using their personal accounts for official business, because I doubt they were looking for their weekend plans or a babysitter’s schedule. Presumably, the Chinese wouldn’t have done this if they weren’t getting something.”

More plausible is the suggestion that the Chinese were phishing for information they could then use to compromise other accounts.

Stewart Baker, a former homeland security official in the Bush administration, said he suspects the ultimate goal of the hacking may have been to use the email accounts as a stepping stone to penetrate the officials’ home computers.

“If you can compromise that machine, you may well be able to access the communications they are having with the office,” said Mr. Baker.

I’m most interested in all the assumptions here, that a bunch of Chinese hackers know precisely how the White House email system works. If that’s true, why haven’t we asked the Chinese to turn over the emails OVP deleted from the first days of the Plame leak investigation? And why haven’t we asked the Chinese to turn over all those emails hidden on the RNC’s server? Maybe they can also help us find all of John Yoo’s torture emails?

Given how common it is, these days, for top officials to just delete their most inconvenient emails, I’m thinking American citizens ought to invite Chinese hackers to help us reclaim all the official records our overlords try to destroy.

Christmas Special: Half Off Dick Cheney’s Freedom!

Just a quick post while I’m packing so you all have fresh thread to unwind.

And also to note that Halliburton did manage to convince Nigeria to give them a half-off special for Dick Cheney’s freedom, though they had to bring Poppy Bush and James Baker in to close the deal.

Nigeria’s anti-corruption police have dropped charges against Dick Cheney, the former US vice-president, over a multi-million dollar bribery case after the energy firm Halliburton agreed to pay up to $250m (£161m) in fines.

The move followed the intervention of ex-president George Bush Sr and former secretary of state James Baker, according to Nigerian press reports.

It’s a good thing Cheney’s freedom is coming at such a discount. Because if, as reported, DOJ is contemplating charging those who helped or induced others to leak classified information–as Cheney did when he ordered Scooter Libby to leak Valerie Plame’s identity to Judy Miller–then he may have need of another half-off $250 million Get Out of Jail Free Card.

I’ll be packing the rest of the day today and moving tomorrow, so you may not hear from me until tomorrow night or Saturday. Wish me luck!

Crist’s Morrison Pardon: 21st Century Fox In A Lizard King’s Henhouse

Hey, being pretty much a sentient life long Doors aficionado, I am all in with pardoning Jim Morrison, which there has been a flurry of scuttlebutt emanating, cool and slow, with a backbeat narrow and hard to master, out of the instant swamps of Florida, regarding.

Oh, and when I heard the subject brought up by the patently unhip, plodding Blue Dog, holier than thou, I’m a better Democrat than you, scold Larry O’ Donnell on his craptastic bloviathon MSNBC show, that was just too fucking much. The backdoor rumor is Charlie Crist, who may or may not have eaten more chicken that a man has eve seen, is pondering giving the Big Scooter Libby Get Out Of Jail Free card to the Most Right Reverend Snake King Jim Morrison.

Outstanding. And long over due. Because if some fucking little germ boy, bear cage child threatening, functionally traitorous subservient to Cheney blank like I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby can get a walk from a complicit President of the United States in order to mask apparent criminal behavior, then why not a posthumous hall pass for James Douglas Morrison? Seriously.

If you are comparing and contrasting facts and circumstances, one was an entertainer who may or may not have, for a fleeting moment, exposed himself in 1969 to a Miami audience at the end of a Doors concert that truly could not only have cared less, but were bummed they had not done so earlier. The other, Cheney’s toy Scooter, conspired to expose and out a classified top CIA clandestine agent working on the most critical issue of the day, the existence of nuclear and/or weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and/or Iran. You know, the fraudulent reason the very same Mr. Cheney and wooden operated mouthed George Bush relied on to affirmatively, aggressively and illegally start a war against Iraq for the sins of 9/11 that Iraq not only did not commit, but had actual avarice for the people who did.

That Scooter Libby.

So, if Scooter Libby can skate and, in the process, serve as a firewall for the immorality and illegality of the Bush/Cheney Administration, there is no reason the Lizard King should not be posthumously exculpated.

No tears, no fears, but a lot of ruined years. Charlie Crist made clear intimations he wanted to do this when he took office. Being a gutless politician at heart he, of course, never did it as Governor of the rockin state of Florida. Instead he cowered to the perceived sensabilities of the people in rockin chairs. And lost his ass, soul and electability in the process. Douchebag. Crist is toast. But if he wants to belatedly clean up the halls of the Morrison Hotel, well then I am all for that. Mr. Mojo is rising; Charlie Crist is not. Lizard Kings rule; political blanks drool.

We have constructed pyramids in honor of this escaping. Let the spirit of Mr. Mojo fly Mr. Charlie Crist. It is about the only thing of merit, morals and guts you can do at this point. Get on with it you ineffectual political chameleon stale fish.

Cheney Pissed at Bush: Distraction with the Wrong Cover-Up

Today’s news will be dominated with Bush’s admission that Cheney was mad at him for not pardoning Libby.

Bush, in an interview aired Monday on TODAY, said Cheney was angry that Bush only commuted the sentence of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, convicted of lying during the leak investigation.

[snip]

‘I can’t believe you’re going to leave a soldier on the battlefield,’ former president says ex-VP told him.

Of course we already knew this. This was widely reported just after Obama’s inauguration. And as I pointed out at the time, the underlying story to the non-pardon probably has everything to do with making sure that Libby won’t ever reveal Bush’s own role in exposing Valerie Plame’s identity.

It would have been nice if Matt Lauer asked Bush about whether he refused to pardon Libby so as to keep him silent, but I suppose Lauer’s job is to help Bush sell books, not to ask tuff qweschins.

But an even better question would have been to ask Bush whether he believes, with the statute of limitations expiring on the torture tape destruction, his own role in approving torture is now safe. Bush allies have spun a nice story that the White House opposed the destruction of the torture tapes and was mad that Jose Rodriguez did it anyway. If that’s true (ha!), then Bush ought to be pissed that Rodriguez is, apparently, getting away with it. But again, I think Lauer’s role is to help Bush sell books, not ask the difficult questions.

As the press is distracted with a rehashing of the successful cover-up of one of Bush’s crimes, we ought to remember that today marks the successful cover-up of a more horrible crime.

Scooter Libby: “Back in 2003 There Was More That Might Have Been Done”

Someone decided now was a good time to roll out Scooter Libby to complain about stolen elections and Iranian nukes. The whole thing was basically an unmitigated blowjob — thanks Monica Crowley!

Crowley: I know that you had been working on the Iraq surge, before this ridiculous politically motivated case against you derailed your effort and actually set back the Iraq surge um, program, for a lot of years and probably cost us a lot of lives and time in Iraq. Since you were one of the early leading authors of the Iraq surge, give us your read about the surge in Afghanistan and do you think it will work, especially under the guy [inaudible] General Petraeus.

To his credit, Scooter (I feel justified in calling him Scooter, since Crowley does) noted that the surge sort of postdated his departure (by a year). He did poof up Petraeus. And he pivoted it back to Iran, and Iran’s nukes…

Crowley: That absurd, political witch hunt that you were subjected to during the Valerie Plame case, your sentence was commuted, but you never did, in fact, get a pardon. Are you still hopeful that eventually you might get a pardon?

Scooter: Well, um, I worked 13 years, maybe 12, something like that, for the Federal Government on national security. In that time, I met Czechs, who had had their lives stymied under communism. I met Kurds who had suffered under the atrocities of Saddam Hussein. I met American families who had lost kids overseas. I learned two things from this. One is the world’s not just. And the second is it doesn’t do a lot of good to whine.

Now, Scooter seems uninterested in relitigating his conviction for lying to protect his boss, Dick Cheney. Interestingly, though, a key point of his appearance — given its focus on Iran’s purported nukes — was to suggest that back in 2003 more could have been done to prevent Iran from getting nukes. You know. 2003. The year he outed a CIA spy trying to prevent Iran from getting nukes?

Maybe the thing to do in 2003 would have been not outing one of the women hunting down those nukes?

Karl Rove’s Self-Delusions Hit New Heights–Forgets He Outed Valerie Plame

Okay, this is one for the ages.

Karl Rove is out today with what is presumably an excerpt from his book, revealing his biggest mistake. He doesn’t verbalize what that mistake is, really. Rather, he bitches about a list of Democrats.

But the initial complaint appears to be that on July 15, 2003, Ted Kennedy accused George Bush of lying to get us into the Iraq war.

Seven years ago today, in a speech on the Iraq war, Sen. Ted Kennedy fired the first shot in an all-out assault on President George W. Bush’s integrity. “All the evidence points to the conclusion,” Kennedy said, that the Bush administration “put a spin on the intelligence and a spin on the truth.” Later that day Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle told reporters Mr. Bush needed “to be forthcoming” about the absence of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

Thus began a shameful episode in our political life whose poisonous fruits are still with us.

[snip]

At the time, we in the Bush White House discussed responding but decided not to relitigate the past. That was wrong and my mistake: I should have insisted to the president that this was a dagger aimed at his administration’s heart. What Democrats started seven years ago left us less united as a nation to confront foreign challenges and overcome America’s enemies.

July 15, 2003 was, of course, the day after Bob Novak–acting on a leak involving Richard Armitage, Scooter Libby, and Karl Rove himself–outed Valerie Plame. Before Ted Kennedy said the first mean thing about Bush, Rove had already leaked to at least Novak and Matt Cooper, and OVP was leaking even more wildly (and it should be said, leaking classified information to the WSJ, where Rove’s piece appears, to make their case).

But now Karl Rove says “the Bush White House discussed responding but decided not to relitigate the past”?!?!?

Aside from the fact that Rove’s op-ed operates on the erroneous foundation that the Administration shared all the intelligence they juiced up with Congress (they didn’t), the entire op-ed is based on an absolutely delusional sense of timing.

And a convenient silence about what the White House had already done, in concert, before Ted Kennedy correctly accused the President of lying us into war.

Remember Scooter Libby’s Lost Emails?

Turns out they’re still lost.

When we last heard from Libby’s lost emails, CREW and National Security Archive had reached a settlement with the White House to restore 33 days worth of email and examine 21 days of low volume email to see whether prior restorations had really worked (among other things).

I’m still reading through the documents to figure out what has happened since (aside from Libby’s emails still being lost–but then, that’s not news). The eye-popping takeaway is that, for the 21 days of emails supposedly restored, 83% of the emails weren’t restored:

As documented [in a report from Microsoft included in CREW’s available documents] the comparison of the two data sets–one containing emails previously identified as the archival email records of the Bush administration for the 21 days in question and one containing emails extracted from backup tapes for those 21 days–revealed a huge discrepancy between the two. Specifically, 190,819 email messages on the backup tapes were not found in the archival set of email messages. Conversely, 31,819 emails contained in the archival set were not found on the backup tapes for those same days. In other words, 83% of the universe of known emails for those days were not archived and would not be available today but for actions of CREW and the Archive and the resulting restoration project.

Now, the discrepancy, to me, is even more interesting than the sheer numbers involved. It suggests that two totally different sets of emails were captured in the multiple archiving processes. Which suggests a great deal of emails may have been tampered with between the time they were written and archived. (Though I await the tech wonks to explain this in more depth).

And then there’s this bit.

[On May 10, 2006], the estimated cost for one of [the options for restoring White House email]–restoring all dates of low volume email for EOP components–was $2,414.221 [sic]. The Bush White House did not pursue this option, and instead hired multiple contractors to perform various costly analyses aimed at winnowing down the number of days that arguable could be considered as statistically low volume.

In other words, rather than spend what now looks like a pittance (less than $2.5 million) to restore everything, the Bush White House instead spent even more money paying consultants to argue that not all these days needed to be restored. And that decision was taken, of course, at a time when Libby’s case was in discovery and any indictment of Rove had just been declined. And, presumably, Patrick Fitzgerald still may have had lingering suspicions that Libby and Judy (if not Novak) were emailing back and forth about outing Plame.

But really, none of this is suspicious at all.

Meanwhile, CREW just recently started this whole process over again to get John Yoo’s missing torture emails.

Does no one else see the pattern here?

Jon Kiriakou: Libby Knew Plame Was Covert

Jason Leopold has a long article and videotape of an interview with Jon Kiriakou that you should check out in full. I’ll discuss their conversation about Abu Zubaydah’s torture (and, more interestingly, Kiriakou’s knowledge about who Abu Zubaydah is) later. But I wanted to look more closely at Kiriakou’s description of a June 10, 2003 meeting at which (Kiriakou says) Scooter Libby made it clear that he knew of Plame’s identity.

Kiriakou said he was the “note taker” at this meeting, which took place on June 10, 2003, when I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, former Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, “entered the room furious, putting on a big show, arms flailing around, swearing and demanding to know why nobody at the CIA told him that Valerie Plame was married to Joe Wilson.”

Kiriakou said it was clear to him that when Libby “entered the room” on June 10, 2003, he had already known that Plame was an undercover operative.

Now, it always pays to approach Kiriakou’s statements with some skepticism. And his description certainly doesn’t accord with what Grenier testified to at the Libby trial. But for the moment, let’s look at what Kiriakou’s description would mean for the chronology of the week of June 8, 2003.

After a break of several weeks after Nicholas Kristof first reported Joe Wilson’s allegations, the allegations returned again on June 8, 2003, when George Stephanopolous asked Condi Rice about the allegations. Apparently first thing on the following day, June 9, 2003, President Bush expressed to Libby in some way his concern about the allegations. And that seems to have been what set OVP into overdrive trying to learn about the source of the allegations. Later that same afternoon, John Hannah had already completed a briefing for Cheney on the issue.

According to Kiriakou’s story, Libby had his furious outburst on June 10. That would probably mean it happened at the 12:45 NSC DC [Deputies Committee] meeting, four hours before Kiriakou wrote his email requesting more information. Though note, the content of the Kiriakou email we have–which asks for very specific information for John McLaughlin in anticipation of a meeting with Cheney the following day and doesn’t mention the meeting itself–doesn’t match the description he gave Jason:

After Libby’s outburst, Kiriakou said he “went back to headquarters and I wrote an email to all of the executive assistants of all the top leaders in the agency saying, this meeting took place, Libby is furious, we believe that he was conveying a message from the vice president. I wanted to know when did we know that Valerie was married to Joe Wilson, sent it around, nobody ever responded to my email.”

That says, if Kiriakou’s narrative is correct, Libby probably learned of the tie between Plame and Wilson between June 9 and June 10, if not earlier. Which might explain why the date on Libby’s note record learning of Plame’s tie to Wilson appears to be written over. One possibility, for example, is that the note originally read June 9, not June 12.

This is where Kiriakou’s story begins to conflict with Robert Grenier’s and Marc Grossman’s. Marc Grossman testified he told Libby, probably at a DC meeting on June 11 or 12, that Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA (based on the INR memo). And Grenier testified that Libby asked him for information on a phone call on June 11, at which point, Grenier claimed, he “had never heard of [Wilson’s trip] before.” Both claims would be false if Libby had blown up in the June 10 meeting.

Now, both Grossman and Grenier’s testimony is problematic on a number of other levels, so we can’t use their testimony to dismiss Kiriakou’s story out of hand.

Read more

Judy Miller’s Editor Calls on Journalists to Expose False Journalism

Tim F made this point implicitly, but it deserves to be made explicitly. Do you really think Howell Raines, the editor who oversaw Judy Miller’s Iraq War propaganda, is really the one to exhort journalists to call out Fox for its false journalism?

One question has tugged at my professional conscience throughout the year-long congressional debate over health-care reform, and it has nothing to do with the public option, portability or medical malpractice. It is this: Why haven’t America’s old-school news organizations blown the whistle on Roger Ailes, chief of Fox News, for using the network to conduct a propaganda campaign against the Obama administration — a campaign without precedent in our modern political history?

[snip]

Why has our profession, through its general silence — or only spasmodic protest — helped Fox legitimize a style of journalism that is dishonest in its intellectual process, untrustworthy in its conclusions and biased in its gestalt?

[snip]

Why can’t American journalists steeped in the traditional values of their profession be loud and candid about the fact that Murdoch does not belong to our team?

[snip]

As for Fox News, lots of people who know better are keeping quiet about what to call it. Its news operation can, in fact, be called many things, but reporters of my generation, with memories and keyboards, dare not call it journalism.

I’ll admit that when I first suggested that Judy Miller was not engaging in journalism when Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby outed Valerie Plame to her, I wished that other journalists would have the courage to acknowledge that what she was doing was not journalism. It would have been nice, then, to have a column like this, calling on journalists to expose disinformation in the guise of journalism.

But really. Does Howell Raines have no sense of irony?

After all, it’d be a pity if Raines missed the irony of the fact that Judy Miller now works for Fox News.