for Bush; historical low for second-term presidents.
Headline says it all.
The forged documents that the administration used to bolster the claim that Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger originated from Italian intelligence sources. Specifically, it was being peddled by Nicolo Pollari, chief of Italy’s military intelligence service. It was recently revealed by an Italian newspaper that on September 9 2002, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley had a secret meeting with Pollari.
People are now asking what they talked about. Hadley says he has “no recollection” of Iraq’s nuclear ambitions being discussed or of any documents being passed. It sure sounds like a denial, but it doesn’t mean much. Hadley was asked about it during a press conference today and he claims he has almost no recollection of anything that happened during the meeting with Polari:
QUESTION: Can you say what you did discuss with Mr. Pollari?
HADLEY: I told you, I have very little recollection of the meeting. And it was in the order of a courtesy call, getting to know a person who was going to be a colleague going forward. And you can tell that from the relative briefness of the meeting.
Just an innocent, “getting-to-know-you,” meeting with the guy who had been relentlessly pushing forged documents about Iraq’s nuclear ambitions for months.
We’ve posted the all relevant excerpts from today’s press briefing with Hadley here.
Misery loves company. Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) joins Tom DeLay with investigations into illegal corporate contributions to her 2002 campaign committee:
Federal auditors said a campaign committee for U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., should return $81,320 in unlawful corporate contributions from her 2002 campaign. … A federal audit of the Dole North Carolina Victory Committee, a joint fund-raising effort between Dole and the North Carolina Republican Party that [Earl Allen] Haywood helped manage, determined that it had deposited 31 checks received from the general funds of corporations. Such donations are unlawful.
Like DeLay’s PAC, Dole’s committee is trying to point fingers and blame Haywood, who last year admitted to stealing money from the committee. But the FEC isn’t biting:
Regardless of Mr. Haywood’s reputation, in the opinion of the Audit Staff, the lack of basic internal controls (e.g. separation of duties) and oversight by DNCVC created an environment that contributed to the misappropriation of funds and the misreporting to the Commission.
McClellan at during today’s gaggle on the Senate Intelligence Committees investigation of pre-war intelligence:
Q. Why did they finally agree to a bipartisan group, then, to look into this whole business?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, that’s not –
Q. Roberts has been sitting on the intelligence policy –
MR. McCLELLAN: Helen — Helen, they’ve already — they’ve had phase one and phase two…
That’s not true. Here is the Boston Globe on July 27:
Roberts… said in February that the committee’s investigation of the administration’s use of intelligence is “on the back burner,” and said in April that other issues have more urgent claims on the committee’s attention.
Phase two has not been completed and there is no report. That’s why, after the Senate was closed yesterday, Sen. Frist agreed to a bipartisan panel to assess the progress of the investigation.
We’ve posted the entire gaggle. You’ll want to check it out — it’s a doozy.
National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley is holding a press conference today at 2:45PM. Purportedly, it’s about the President’s trip to Latin America. Responsible journalists, however, should ask Hadley about his role in the CIA leak scandal. Specifically, we learned in Hadley’s 7/22/03 press briefing, that he was warned three times by the CIA – before the 2003 State of the Union Address — not to include the claim that Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa.
OCTOBER 5 – CIA SENDS MEMO WARNING HADLEY AND SPEECH WRITER MICHAEL GERSON: As described by Hadley, the memo noted “that CIA had told the Congress about concerns about the British claim” on uranium sales from Africa.
OCTOBER 6 – CIA SENDS MEMO WARNING CONDOLEEZZA RICE AND HADLEY: The memo informed the White House that the Africa uranium story “was one of two issues where we differed with the British intelligence.”
OCTOBER 5, 6, 7 – TENET CALLS HADLEY AND SAYS “HE DID NOT WANT THE PRESIDENT TO BE A FACT WITNESS FOR THAT STATEMENT”: “As we’ve already disclosed publicly, George Tenet had a brief telephone conversation with me during the clearance process for the October 7 Cincinnati speech. This was the one — he asked that any reference to Iraq’s attempt to purchase uranium from sources from Africa to be deleted from the speech…Based on DCI Tenet’s request, the sentence was deleted from the Cincinnati speech, when he said he did not want the President to be a fact witness for that statement.”
Hadley’s excuse as to why the information ended up the State of the Union anyway? I forgot:
But the fact is that given the October 5 and 6 CIA memorandum, and my telephone with the DCI Tenet at roughly the same time, I should have recalled at the time of the State of the Union speech that there was controversy associated with the uranium issue.
More information on Hadley’s role in the leak scandal here.
In Today’s Los Angeles Times, Max Boot tries to minimize the impact of the indictment of Scooter Libby for false statements, perjury and obstruction of justice.
But with his investigation all but over, prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has found no criminal conspiracy and no violations of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, which makes it a crime in some circumstances to disclose the names of undercover CIA operatives.
First, Fitzgerald’s investigation is drawing to a close but senior administration officials, including Karl Rove, remain in serious legal jeopardy. Moreover, in his press conference, Patrick Fitzgerald stressed repeatedly that’s Libby’s obstruction is complicating efforts to issue indictments for other crimes:
And grand jurors and prosecutors making decisions about who should be charged, whether anyone should be charged, what should be charged, need to make fine distinctions about what people knew, why they knew it, what they exactly said, why they said it, what they were trying to do, what appreciation they had for the information and whether it was classified at the time.
Those fine distinctions are important in determining what to do. That’s why it’s essential when a witness comes forward and gives their account of how they came across classified information and what they did with it that it be accurate.
Americans oppose his confirmation by 53% to 37% if he would vote to overturn Roe, and support a filibuster of his nomination by 50% to 40%. [Via AmericaBlog.]
So says CAP’s Robert Gordon in Slate.
Earler this year, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said the United States was adhering to both U.S. law and treaty obligations outlawing torture:
And as we carry out the war on terrorism, and seek to prevent attacks from happening, we must adhere to those laws, and we must adhere to those treaty obligations and we must adhere to — we must adhere to our values. [White House, 3/17/05]
But the Washington Post reports today that the U.S. is keeping prisoners in a system of secret, “black-site” prisons around the world, where they can be treated to punishment which the U.N. Convention on torture and U.S. military law does not allow:
Host countries have signed the U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, as has the United States. Yet CIA interrogators in the overseas sites are permitted to use the CIA’s approved “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques,” some of which are prohibited by the U.N. convention and by U.S. military law. They include tactics such as “waterboarding,” in which a prisoner is made to believe he or she is drowning. [Washington Post, 11/2/05]
The prisons were approved “by a small circle of White House and Justice Department lawyers and officials, according to several former and current U.S. government and intelligence officials.” It helps explain why the White House wants to exempt the CIA from legislation banning the inhumane treatment of detainees.
UPDATE: Those responsible for justifying these policies are getting promotions. David S. Addington, Vice President Cheney’s choice to replace Scooter Libby as his Chief of Staff, was a “principal author of the White House memo justifying torture of terrorism suspects.” The memo said, “Congress may no more regulate the president’s ability to detain and interrogate enemy combatants than it may regulate his ability to direct troop movements on the battlefield.”