about their contacts with reporters regarding Plame in the days before her identity was published, the AP reports.
Last night on Hardball, Chris Matthews and Newsweek chief political correspondent Howard Fineman discussed the New York Daily News report alleging that the special prosecutor is considering wide-ranging conspiracy charges in the CIA leak probe:
Cheney’s name has come up amid indications Fitzgerald may be edging closer to a blockbuster conspiracy charge – with help from a secret snitch.
“They have got a senior cooperating witness – someone who is giving them all of that,” a source who has been questioned in the leak probe told the Daily News yesterday.
The accuracy of the Daily News report is still unknown. But if Fitzgerald does bring forward conspiracy charges, Fineman says, Cheney will be in the crosshairs:
MATTHEWS: If it’s a grand conspiracy hatched in the vice president’s office, how does he even logically exclude the top guy?
FINEMAN: Well, he probably can’t, which is why he is being very, very careful here.
Yesterday, Harriet Miers revealed on a Senate questionnaire that she was suspended this year from D.C. bar for late payment of dues:
U.S. Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers told the U.S. Senate on Tuesday her ability to practice law in the District of Columbia was briefly suspended this year because of nonpayment of bar association dues.
But she left out one thing. Miers was also suspended from the Texas bar for late payment of dues in 1989. She sent a letter to Pat Leahy today revealing her suspension and blaming it on an “administrative error.” You can read the letter HERE.
It’s not a good development for a nominee whose supporters have been trumpeting her as extremely conscientious –
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales:
[Gonzales] said Miers will do well because she is ‘very detail oriented’ and ‘very meticulous.’
Assistant Secretary of State Kristen Silverberg:
She’s very meticulous…It’s always about making sure that everything is perfect…
Looks like it’s time for a new set of talking points.
Today, Secretary Rice told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the United States would not rule out the use of military force with Syria. “I’m not going to get into what the president’s options might be,” Rice said. “I don’t think the president ever takes any of his options off the table concerning anything to do with military force.”
But this weekend, the New York Times reported that U.S. forces are already engaged in a “shadow struggle” with Syria:
A series of clashes in the last year between American and Syrian troops, including a prolonged firefight this summer that killed several Syrians, has raised the prospect that cross-border military operations may become a dangerous new front in the Iraq war, according to current and former military and government officials. …
…other [Bush administration] officials, who say they got their information in the field or by talking to Special Operations commanders, say that as American efforts to cut off the flow of fighters have intensified, the operations have spilled over the [Iraq-Syria] border – sometimes by accident, sometimes by design.
Some current and former officials add that the United States military is considering plans to conduct special operations inside Syria, using small covert teams for cross-border intelligence gathering.
Increasingly, officials say, Syria is to the Iraq war what Cambodia was in the Vietnam War: a sanctuary for fighters, money and supplies to flow over the border and, ultimately, a place for a shadow struggle.
Looks like the military option isn’t so much of an “option” anymore.
Anti-tax activist Grover Norquist has upset cultural conservatives by agreeing to appear as a keynote speaker for the Log Cabin Republicans, a group of gay conservatives. Right-wingers are already lobbing rhetorical bombs:
One pro-family leader called Norquist’s appearance “an act of utter betrayal.” …
Norquist’s presence at the fund-raiser was “traitorous,” [Cathie Adams, president of the conservative Texas Eagle Forum,] added. “If he was a serious economic conservative, Grover Norquist would not have accepted the invitation or the honorarium for speaking at a fund-raiser for a group bent on the destruction of traditional families,” Adams said.
But rhetoric is one thing. Questioning Norquist’s role in the conservative movement is another. And Tony Perkins, president of the influential Family Research Council, has done just that:
Grover has spent years working to assemble a coalition of fiscal and social conservatives and his decision to aid those who are trying to destroy the institution of marriage is truly a disappointment and will no doubt split this important coalition.
As we reported earlier, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan disputed the New York Daily News article reporting that Bush knew about the leak two years ago by saying the White House disputed its “overall accuracy.” McClellan was asked about the story again in the on-camera White House press briefing, and here’s what he said:
QUESTION: Scott, did the president talk to Karl Rove two years ago about the leak?
MCCLELLAN: I appreciate the question. That’s a question relating to an ongoing investigation, and I’m just not going to have further comment while that investigation is under way.
McClellan would not even go as far as simply reaffirming his denial of the accuracy of the story:
QUESTION: … you could say it’s true or not true.
MCCLELLAN: No. As you have known for some time now, we’ve been saying that, while this is an ongoing investigation, what we’re going to do from the White House is cooperate fully with that investigation and let the special prosecutor do his work. We’re not going to speculate or prejudge the outcome.
If McClellan could deny the accuracy of the Daily News story in the morning gaggle, why couldn’t he do so in the briefing? Does the White House now agree with the story that Bush knew Rove was a leaker two years ago?
“A second Cheney aide, David Wurmser, has agreed to provide the prosecution with evidence that the leak was a coordinated effort by Cheney’s office to discredit the agent’s husband,” Raw Story reports.
In the wake of the federal government’s ineptly-administered response to Katrina, President Bush pledged, “This government will learn the lessons of Hurricane Katrina.”
One of the key lessons learned was that the Department of Homeland Security needed to better balance its spending between being better prepared for natural disasters and preventing potential future terrorist attacks. The San Francisco Chronicle reported:
[T]he country’s obsession with terrorism has left it vulnerable to other disasters“¦ many believe that unreasonable fears borne from the Sept. 11 attacks drove the country, and its leaders, to overreact to the terrorist threat and divert precious resources from the near-certain catastrophes of nature.
The criticism prompted Secretary Chertoff to respond: “I’ll tell you my philosophy, since I guess it’s my responsibility now. I think we have to plan for both, because I think they’re both mutually reinforcing.” [CNN, 9/3/05]
President Bush missed an opportunity yesterday to demonstrate a renewed commitment to both priorities. In remarks after signing the Homeland Security appropriations bill, Bush made not even a single mention of the administration’s commitment to being better prepared for a natural disaster (read his full statement here).
The White House fact sheet distributed along with the President’s remarks demonstrate clearly that the administration was most concerned with demonstrating its commitment to defending the homeland and trumpeting its efforts on immigration. (Recall, immigration was also Bush’s topic of conservation in his call to Chertoff while Katrina was making landfall).
It appears the government still hasn’t learned the lessons of Hurricane Katrina.
Oh yeah, [Earle's] just doing his job. He’s just doing his job. He’s got a film crew that has been following him around for two years to document how he’s going to get Tom DeLay.
DeLay was given a chance to speak to the film crew, but declined. According to the filmmakers, Earle allowed the crew access but only with tight regulations that would not compromise the case:
[Earle] gave us specific ground rules that we promised to follow. We would not be allowed access to any of the evidence being presented to the grand jury. He could not discuss anything the grand jury was doing. He would not speculate about the guilt or innocence of anyone.
DeLay’s disgust with commenting on film about the case apparently applies only to other people. Since Tom DeLay’s first Sept. 28 indictment, he has “waged a blitz on radio, on TV and in print,” giving more than 20 interviews, including several interviews on FOX News and Rush Limbaugh’s show.