Keep Oliver Stone away from 9/11, please!

Keep Oliver Stone away from 9/11, please!

Keep Oliver Stone away from 9/11, please!

A mostly political Weblog.
July 11 2005 4:14 PM

Keep Oliver Stone Away from 9/11!

Why put that story in the hands of a credulous Hollywood conspiracist?

A Bin Laden vs. Zawahiri doctrinal dispute? I didn't know about it. Here's Amir Taheri  from Friday:

Bin Laden has consistently argued in favour of further ghazavat[*] inside the West. He firmly believes that the West is too cowardly to fight back and, if terrorised in a big way, will do "what it must do". That view was strengthened last year when al-Qaeda changed the Spanish Government with its deadly attack in Madrid. At the time bin Laden used his "Madrid victory" to call on other European countries to distance themselves from the United States or face similar "punishment".

Bin Laden's view has been challenged by his supposed No 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, who insists that the Islamists should first win the war inside several vulnerable Muslim countries, notably Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Until yesterday it seemed that al-Zawahiri was winning the argument, especially by heating things up in Afghanistan and Iraq. Yesterday, the bin Laden doctrine struck back in London.

*--military raids12:02 P.M.


Rove Trove: Watch the Newsweek/Isikoff space Sunday A.M. ...  Here it is.  [It's not much of a teaser if you only give them 60 seconds' advance notice.--ed  Sorry. I forgot that "A.M." comes, like, right after midnight.] Nut graf:

Nothing in the Cooper e-mail suggests that Rove used Plame's name or knew she was a covert operative. Nonetheless, it is significant that Rove was speaking to Cooper before Novak's column appeared; in other words, before Plame's identity had been published.

In other words, the truth we thought we were asymptotically approaching yesterday now appears a bit closer: Without identifying her by name, Rove mentioned Wilson's wife's employment but did so in order to get reporters to pay less attention to Wilson's report, not (at least on the surface) in order to blow Plame's cover or retailiate against Wilson (and "stifle dissent").  ...  Does that get Rove off the legal hook? I think it should--if Rove didn't intend the info to become public and trusted the reporters he talked with to be responsible. Rove's problem is that the statute doesn't seem to require an intent for the info to become public for there to be a crime; it only requires an act of disclosure. Specifically, it punishes anyone who "intentionally discloses any information identifying such covert agent to any individual not authorized to receive classified information." Matt Cooper would be such an individual. ... Other provisions in the statute require either a "pattern" of behavior and an intent to damage the U.S., but that's not true of the provision that would seem to most easily apply to Rove. ... But Rove still has the defense that he didn't know Plame was a "covert" agent being protected by "affirmative measures." ...

P.S.: WaPo Wipeout! The Washington Post gets embarrassed by Newsweek on two counts. 1) It's now pretty clear that WaPo's Carol Leonnig was conned by Rove's lawyer Luskin into swallowing his weaselly line that "Rove was not the source who called Cooper yesterday morning" to permit Cooper to testify.  Rove may not have "called," but he apparently was the Cooper source; 2)WaPo's designated damage-repairer  Dan Balz was then bamboozled too! He reported

Rove and Cooper spoke once before the Novak column was available, but the interview did not involve the Iraq controversy, according to a person close to the investigation who declined to be identified to be able to share more details about the case. [Emph. added]


It now looks like that was a "person close to the investigation who declined to be identified to be able to mislead Dan Balz"! ... Gee, who could it have been? ...

Backfill: At 11:25, Huffy David Corn got anticipatorily overexcited about the Newsweek story, arguing it offers "proof that the Bush White House was using any information it could gather on Joseph Wilson -- even classified information related to national security -- to pursue a vendetta against Wilson, a White House critic." [Emphasis added]  I would say it shows the Bush White House was using what it thought was relevant information--but what it may not have known was possibly illegal information to disclose!--in order to discredit (or spin) Wilson's report. That's a big difference. In ignoring it, Corn exaggerates Rove's "political, if not legal, jeopardy." (Rove would be in even less political jeopardy, though, if his lawyer hadn't pretended he wasn't Cooper's source! Now it comes as a shock.) 12:01 A.M. link

Saturday July 9, 2005

Keep Oliver Stone Away from 9/11! Is Oliver Stone really the person to direct a big-budget film about the rescue of Officers McLoughlin and Jimeno  from the rubble of the World Trade Center? Stone has shown he has trouble leaving history alone (most famously in JFK); he'll probably have some wacky, conspiratorial left-wing theory to add into the script. ... The McLoughlin rescue is a surprising, moving, and patriotic story if you just tell it as it happened. Do you trust Stone to do that? I don't. ... Is Hollywood so out of touch it thinks Stone's version of 9/11 is what America is clamoring for? After Alexander, at that? ... Stone should be free to say what he wants. But it might be useful for Paramount's Brad Grey  to hear that many Americans--including but not limited to a mob of salivating bloggers--aren't eager to provide Stone with a paying audience. ... Sharon Waxman Angle: Is this Grey's first significant misstep? ... Update: Roger Simon sees the international film market at work, and has some sharp-but-nuanced comments on Stone's talents. ... Backfill: If you doubt that Stone is a credulous Hollywood lefty--a charge that's often made too easily, I agree--read his Q & A  with Ann Louise Bardach on the subject of Castro. Here's one example of many from that interview:

ALB: Did you ever think to bring up why he doesn't hold a presidential election?

OS: I did. He said something to the effect, "We have elections."

ALB: Local representative elections. But what about a presidential election?

OS: We didn't talk about it, especially in view of the fact that our own 2000 elections were a little bit discredited.

ALB: In the first film, Comandante, he asked you, "Is it so bad to be a dictator?" Did you think you should have responded to that question?

OS: I don't think that was the place to do it. … You know, dictator or tyrant, those words are used very easily. In the Greek political system, democracy didn't work out that well. There were what they called benevolent dictators back in those days.

ALB: And you think he might be in that category?

OS: Well, not benevolent to everybody, no.


Update: Stone's [*], but the story he's telling is about firefighters, relax--reader P.B. These were Port Authority cops, and they were initially rescued not by firefighters but by a crazy-brave patriotic super-Christian ex-Marine who drove down from Connecticut in his Porsche and walked out onto the burning rubble when the official rescue workers had been ordered off the pile for safety reasons. (See Rebecca Liss' account.) You think Stone is a) going to give this guy credit and b) acknowledge that his seemingly extreme military loyalty, patriotism and religious faith is what made his feat possible? I don't think so. And that's before we even get to the question of America vs. Al Qaeda. ...

*--Word omitted on advice of kf's inner lawyer. It wasn't that bad a word, really. ... 3:34 P.M. link

Friday, July 8, 2005

kf Wall of Plame! Dan Balz plays clean-up for his paper  after WaPo's Carol Leonnig was apparently cruelly manipulated by Karl Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, into implying that Rove was not the source who released Matt Cooper from a confidentiality pledge earlier this week. The clean-up graf:

Cooper on Wednesday agreed to testify in the case, reversing his long-standing refusal after saying that he had been released from his pledge of confidentiality just hours before he expected to be sent to jail for contempt of court. In an interview with The Washington Post on Wednesday, Luskin denied that Cooper had received a call from Rove releasing him from his confidentiality pledge. Yesterday, however, Luskin declined to comment on a New York Times report that the release came as a result of negotiations involving Rove's and Cooper's attorneys, nor would he speculate that Cooper was released from his pledge in some other fashion than a direct conversation with Rove. "I'm not going to comment any further," Luskin said.


In two other ways, however, Balz's article shifts the pendulum back in a pro-Rove direction:

1)  It looked like trouble for Rove when Newsweek reported he'd talked to Cooper before Novak had made Valerie Plame's CIA connection public knowledge. But Balz suggests, admitttedly with less than 100% clarity and certainty, that the conversation wasn't about Plame:

Rove and Cooper spoke once before the Novak column was available, but the interview did not involve the Iraq controversy, according to a person close to the investigation who declined to be identified to be able to share more details about the case. [Emph. added]

But then why did it take so long for Rove to release Cooper to talk about it? ... Possibly Relevant or Irrelevant Development: Weaselly Rove lawyer Luskin calls the Newsweek story "70% wrong."

2) Balz pointedly notes that

Rove, who has testified before a grand jury investigating the case, likewise has maintained that he did not break the law, saying in a television interview, "I didn't know her name, and I didn't leak her name."

The clear hint here is that Rove's statements are carefully worded, and he discussed Plame's employment without using her name, as in (hypothetically) "You know his wife works for the CIA, don't you?" I assume that could still, in the right context, be a violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act--but it also begins to seem more like the inevitable Washington spin grapevine at work (how could you not mention it once you knew, given that you'd assume it was going around?). Maguire notes a veteran WaPo reporter's reaction to a similar leak:

Walter Pincus of the WaPo got a leak on July 12, 2003 which contained all the info necessary to write the controversial Novak passage.  He did not publish then, but wrote about it on October 12 in order to illustrate two points - other reporters than Novak had received similar leaks, and "because I did not think the person who spoke to me was committing a criminal act, but only practicing damage control by trying to get me to stop writing about Wilson."

Pincus himself (with Mike Allen) has written:

On July 12, two days before Novak's column, a Post reporter was told by an administration official that the White House had not paid attention to the former ambassador's CIA-sponsored trip to Niger because it was set up as a boondoggle by his wife, an analyst with the agency working on weapons of mass destruction. Plame's name was never mentioned and the purpose of the disclosure did not appear to be to generate an article, but rather to undermine Wilson's report. [Emphasis added]

Am I crazy, or does it seem like, with Balz and Maguire's guidance, we may be asymptotically approaching the truth? ...

P.S.: Maguire also suggests an answer to the "What About Bob?" question--Novak may simply have done what Pincus did, namely reach "an accommodation with Fitzgerald [after his] source identified himself to Fitzgerald and gave testimony." ... 


P.P.S.:  None of this means Novak should have outed Plame as a CIA "operative," or that the outing wasn't unpatriotic. ... 1:00 P.M. link

Thursday July 7, 2005

Buried Lede of the Year! The 22d and 23d graf of today's NYT story--even Adam "Paragraph Six" Nagourney never managed to put the big news that far down:

Mr. Cooper's decision to drop his refusal to testify followed discussions on Wednesday morning among lawyers representing Mr. Cooper and Karl Rove, the senior White House political adviser, according to a person who has been officially briefed on the case. Mr. Fitzgerald was also involved in the discussions, the person said.

In his statement in court, Mr. Cooper did not name Mr. Rove as the source about whom he would now testify, but the person who was briefed on the case said that he was referring to Mr. Rove and that Mr. Cooper's decision came after behind-the-scenes maneuvering by his lawyers and others in the case. [Emph. added]

Last night, Rove's lawyer went all weaselly and Clintonian with Newsweek's Hosenball and Isikoff:

NEWSWEEK reported this week that one of Cooper's sources identified in internal computer e-mails turned over by Time this week is deputy White House chief of staff Karl Rove. Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, told NEWSWEEK today that Rove "did not call Cooper" prior to today's court hearing, nor had the two of them "spoken" about the subject of waiving confidentiality.

But Luskin would make no other comments, including whether there had been any other form of communications between Cooper and Rove. [Emph. added]

Luskin's excessive cleverness about phone calls versus other communications, plus the NYT report, casts today's WaPo Luskin-based denial  in grave doubt:

In an interview yesterday, he said Rove was not the source who called Cooper yesterday morning and personally waived the confidentiality agreement.

"Karl has not asked anybody to treat him as a confidential source with regard to this story," Luskin said

I don't understand why Luskin couldn't just admit that a) Rove was the one to whom Cooper was referring, if that's the case. Luskin had already admitted that b) Rove had talked to Cooper in 2003 before Valerie Plame had been publicly identified as CIA by columnist Robert Novak. I don't see how conceding (a) would place Rove in any more jeopardy. Rove's position depends on what he told Cooper, not whether Cooper thought it was confidential, no?

Does Luskin's weaseling mean we should parse his prior statements to Newsweek--in which he "said that Rove 'did not tell any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA' nor did he 'knowingly disclose classified information'--the way we would Clinton's? Or should we just dismiss them?  Parsing seems potentially fruitful, since Luskin's clearly making an effort to not lie. (Example: Maybe Rove said that "Wilson's wife" worked for the CIA but didn't use the words "Valerie Plame")  Lawrence O'Donnell's instincts in this matter are proving sounder than expected. ...

Backfill:  Umansky noted  the NYT's entombed scoop and WaPo's Rove pooh-poohing. (Q: How used does Carol D. Leonnig feel today?) ... Kleiman still thinks O'Donnell's analyzing the wrong criminal statute. Maguire takes issue  with that, in the course of a review of the linkerature more comprehensive than this one. ... Iggy smells perjury. ...  2:11 P.M.

Bob Kuttner applies his steel-trap logic to the Plame case:

There are only two possibilities. Either Novak did tell the prosecutor the names of the officials who leaked the name and the prosecutor is going easy on them, or Novak refused and the prosecutor is going easy on Novak. Either explanation reeks of favoritism, selective prosecution, and cover-up.

I can think of a third possibility! Novak told the prosecutor the names of the officials who leaked the name and the prosecutor hasn't finished investigating the case yet. Duh! ... Remember, this is a crime that's not easy to prove. Showing that Suspect X leaked the CIA employment of Valerie Plame isn't enough. A prosecutor also has to prove, for example, that Suspect X knew Plame was a covert agent. Maybe Novak told Mr. Fitzgerald, the prosecutor,  that Suspect X did blow Plame's cover, but couldn't give any evidence that X knew Plame was covert. Maybe it's evidence of the latter knowledge that Fitzgerald is seeking from Cooper and Miller. ... Or maybe Suspect X only confirmed Plame's CIA job to Novak after Novak had already found out about it from another official--so Fitzgerald is looking for a reporter for whom Suspect X was the original source. This theory has the virtue of of conforming to what Novak himself says happened. ...  One way Kuttner might still be partly right: If Novak cooperated with Fitzgerald after getting permission to testify from the same confidential Bushie source who denied this permission to Cooper (until the last minute). But that would be Machiavellianism by the source, not favoritism by Fitzgerald. And Novak has written that his initial source was "no partisan gunslinger"--ruling out Karl Rove. Maybe--if Rove was indeed the second Novak source--Rove let Novak talk because Rove knew Novak couldn't incriminate him as the "first discloser." Cooper, perhaps, was a more dangerous witness. ... That theory (and it's just a theory) seems more plausible than Kuttner's assumption that the White House wanted to punish Time for being too "critical of the Bush administration." ... 1:56 A.M.

Wednesday July 6, 2005

Mission of Aspen: Arianna Huffington--another one of those bloggers who could write about anything she sees at any time  and therefore has virtual blanket testimonial immunity under the Instapundit rule!--reports that the media bigs at the Aspen Institute are talking about nothin' but Rove, and have already mentally put Bush's top aide in the defendant's chair (even if they haven't convicted him). ... P.S.: Unlike Arianna, I don't worry that the MSM will take a dive on this story, if it turns out that Lawrence O'Donnell was right and "Rove Blew CIA Agent's Cover." I think it will be a big, juicy summer scandal. If ... Update: O'Donnell adds an uncharacteristically calm and useful post  describing the gantlet any prosecution would have to run. He argues an indictment is conceivable because various judges have been convinced "a very serious crime" might have been committed.  But the seriousness of the crime doesn't make it any easier to prove! Elements #2 (knowing Plame was "covert") and #3 (knowing "affirmative measures" were being taken maintain her cover) seem particularly tough, as O'Donnell himself notes. ... 9:02 P.M. link

Nice try: Matt Welch and Instapundit both suggest definitions of the act of journalism that would include citizen-bloggers while offering adequate protection for confidential sources. Here's Welch:

Non-"professional" bloggers, too, could qualify, in the extremely unlikely event that A) they were actually compiling original data worth subpoenaing, and B) they had identified themselves to interview subjects as working on something to be published.

At any rate, a more relevant standard than "professional journalist" (though also not a First Amendment doctrine) would seem to be found in 42 U.S. Code section 2000aa, which forbids law enforcement agents from seizing "work product materials" or "other documents" possessed by a person "reasonably believed to have a purpose to disseminate to the public a newspaper, book, broadcast or other similar form of public communication."

This statute  ... speaks to purpose, not status. Whether or not you're a "real" journalist might, I suppose, have some small relevance in deciding whether you really plan to disseminate the work to the public, but that's not the test: So long as you have the necessary purpose, that's enough.

Following Kaus' First Law of Journalism--"Always generalize wildly from your own experience"--I doubt either of these definitions will do the trick. Go ahead and try to apply Instapundit's statute to me, or any other blogger. Anything we see in the course of living our lives could conceivably wind up desseminated to the public on our Web sites. I blog about my car, and the music I hear on the radio, my friends, my relatives. I blog about what I see going out to dinner. That's sort of the idea! I'm an observer of the American scene! Eric Sevareid used to have that job; now everyone has that job.

And it is my purpose--I hereby announce--to eventually, potentially, disseminate every damn little piece of information I come across, in my memoirs if nowhere else, unless I've promised (in aid of the larger, American-Scene project, of course) to keep it off the record. There. Everything I know is my "work product" and the government can seize none of it. I recommend that all bloggers out there adopt and announce the same purpose. Then the government won't be able to get your "work product" either. And all the people out there who aren't bloggers should pay the $20 bucks or so [ actually, $0 ] it takes and become bloggers. Just for the privilege, as it were. Then the government won't be able to get anything from anybody.

You get the idea. Applied universally to the post-Web world, with reasonably non-elitist standards that I think Prof. Reynolds would find it hard to dispute, the proposed privilege quickly swallows up the rule that normally requires all citizens to offer evidence in court.

The same goes for Welch's standard, I think, though it's trickier, requiring journalists to identify themselves to their subjects. Will a blanket declaration do? If so, I hereby make it. How about a little button I could wear on my lapel--"I'm a blogger and I could write about any of this"? I doubt that even mainstream, credentialed reporters identify themselves to everyone they encounter in the course of their work.  Did Earl Caldwell identify himself to all the shady characters he observed while doing his reporting on the criminal underground? If you report on a battle in Iraq, do you identify yourself as a journalists to all the soldiers? On both sides? If not, you might not be protected by Welch if you saw one of them do something relevant to a judicial inquiry--or if you would, then we could all protect ourselves just by identifying ourselves as bloggers to one person in the crowd. Update: And what about an anonymous source, as in the Miller and Cooper cases? There'd typically be no way to find out if bloggers had "identified themselves" to such a source without compromising the source's anonymity. Either that, or courts would have to take the reluctant blogger-witness' word for it.

Eventually the same dilemma looms: Either the privilege is a lot narrower than people like Welch would want it to be, or else--in a world in which everyone is a citizen/journalist--it swallows up a lot more of the testimonial obligation than they want to admit. That's why I'm driven to the highly eccentric democratic solution. ...

Update: Nice try, Dover! Delaware's much-praised statute requires 20 hours of work a week "obtaining or preparing information for dissemination." Not a hard standard for a blogger to meet. We write about what we see, after all--so all we have to do is keep your eyes open ("obtaining information") 20 hours a week. Most weeks I beat that easy! 8:29 P.M. link

Bruce Reed's  "Has-Been" blog is up, and it's good! Excellent last graf. You can go a long way in this town mocking Democratic speechwriters' cliches. ... P.S.: "Not Yet Dead" would have been a better name for the whole blog, no? 1:53 A.M.

More Storytellin!It's everywhere! (But not here.) ... Actually, 24 minutes of storytelling on CBS every night might be a good idea. 24 hours of storytelling on CNN seems like a torture technique. ... 12:06 A.M.

Tuesday July 5, 2005

David Corn usefully and calmly lays out what we know and don't know about Rove and Plame. ... Meanwhile, Lawrence O'Donnell is milking his scoop for all the HuffPo items it's worth, though he's now quietly downgraded Rove from "Matt Cooper's source" and "the source Matt Cooper has been protecting" to  "one of the secret sources Matt Cooper has been protecting." [Italics added] ... But the unsubstantiated--yet posssibly true!--O'Donnell headline "Rove Blew CIA Agent's Cover" is still up.  ... 5:26 P.M.

Vote for Woodward! There's an obvious-but-wacky answer to the dilemma of the "journalists' privilege" against testifying in court. What's the dilemma? a) It's helpful for a free society if there's someone people can leak to without fear that the information will come out in court. But b) why give that immunity from testimony to those people who happen to be hired by corporate media (and then claim, condescendingly, to be acting on behalf of the rest of us)? Judith Miller doesn't deserve greater First Amendment rights than a blogger like Tom Maguire just because she got hired by the Sulzbergers. But if you gave everyone who could start a blog--that is to say, everyone--immunity from having to testify then virtually nobody would have to testify.

One solution is to grant immunity not to select journalists but to the act of committing journalism--i.e. if you're reporting on something you are going to publish, and do publish, then you can keep your sources confidential. But I doubt we can craft a "universal" equal privilege that applies to all citizens in certain situations and still is broad enough to do what we want a journalists' privilege to do. As the Plame investigation shows, journalists reasonably want to be able to promise sources immunity when they are gathering information for stories they never publish, or might publish some time down the road. But everyone who can write--that is to say, again, everyone--might publish something at some future date about anything he or she learns. If you grant all these potential journalists (i.e., everyone) fact-gathering immunity then the general obligation to testify goes out the window again.

The second solution is to do what we normally do in a democracy when we have to ration special powers to a few citizens--elect them. If we need ten or twenty reporters in Washington who get special immunity from testifying in order to facilitate the "public's right to know," then let the public choose them by secret ballot. Suppose we gave these Reporters General 5-year renewable terms. They'd have to produce in order to get reelected, and if they got big stories wrong (as Miller did) their chances would dim. (Imagine the anti-Miller attack ad!) Woodward, on the other hand, would hardly have to campaign. It would be more rational than the Pulitzers!

I don't mean this proposal facetiously--only semi-facetiously. If we want a broad journalists' privilege, I don't see another way to get it without arbitrarily granting some citizens more rights than others. ...3:08 P.M. link

Off-key: Isn't USA Today's front page "special report" on Eric Rudolph's letters  from jail, the "worry and heartache" of his mom--complete with blowups of his handwriting--making way too big a deal of him? He's another terrorist, no? Why reward him with four-color publicity about his "witty teen" past and his "introspective" present reading Brothers Karamazov and Melville (conveniently timed two weeks before his sentencing)? ... P.S.: Can't wait for tomorrow's exciting installment on "Close calls before capture." ... Next: The agony of Carlos the Jackal! ... 2:01 P.M. link

Monday July 4, 2005

He Played Dido: Has the New York Times Magazine now written enough puff pieces about L.A. public radio d.j. Nic Harcourt? To Rob Walker's 760 words  in January they've now added Jaime Wolf's 4,271--this for a man with barely enough on-air personality to sustain a prepositional phrase. Like the L.A. Times, Harcourt's KCRW empire of the "semipopular" is a Southern California institution that seems terrific to gullible East Coasters who don't have to live with it every day. Harcourt's scared to rock. His interviews are painful and formulaic. He doesn't provide "a subtle connective tissue, contextualizing the listening experience byond just a handful of songs." He puts you to sleep. He's a menace to highway safety. ... I was going to call Harcourt's dreary parade of breathy, self-absorbed, suffocating pop "yuppie shopping music," except that if stores actually played Harcourt's synapse-numbing choices the economy would grind to a halt!  ... Three consistent motifs of L.A. stand-up comedy are plastic surgery, traffic, and how lame KCRW's music is. ... Yes, Harcourt "was the first in America to play Norah Jones." I like Norah Jones. But do you want to listen to the kind of DJ who'd be the first to play Norah Jones? I don't think so. . ... P.S.: Wolf finally flicks at some of these criticisms in a to-be-sure graf about 3,700 words into his piece, but he glosses over one obvious potential explanation for the poverty of the Harcourt experience: "Harcourt rarely pays attention to lyrics." After all, nobody who listens to singer-songwriters cares about lyrics! ... P.P.S.: Wolf portrays Harcourt as not corrupt. Better he should be. That would at least provide an explanation. ... Listening to his show, it sure sounds like he's wearily paying off a series of polite social obligations to various artists and promoters. Maybe if he were getting a suitcase of cash under the table he could work up some enthusiasm. ... P.P.P.S.: Have I mentioned that I don't like this guy's taste in music? ... Update: Fishbowl L.A. doesn't either! ... Neither do readers A.R. and E.J.! ...  Reader M.S. writes, "I would add that the relentless self-promotion that comprises a huge percentage of the airtime is even more nauseating than much of the music." ... It's a movement, I tell you! Somebody is about to stand up in the back and ask, "Where do we go from here?" ... 11:59 P.M. link

Saturday, July 2, 2005

He Could Be Right! On election night, when Democrats started to worry that the exit polls indicating a Kerry victory might not hold up, someone at a party I attended called up Lawrence O'Donnell for reassurance. Don't worry, we were told--O'Donnell says it's all under control because Kerry will win the key swing states! That's when I knew Bush had been reelected. ... O'Donnell is a brilliant pundit because he picks a clear, intriguing, contrarian position and sticks to it. But he's almost always wrong. Which is why I'll believe his report that "Karl Rove was Matt Cooper's source"--headlined "Rove Blew CIA Agent's Cover"--when it's confirmed elsewhere. ... Which it pointedly isn't, quite, in Newsweek. ...

Update: In a HuffPo update, O'Donnell accuses Rove's lawyer of choosing his words carefully when saying that Rove "never knowingly disclosed classified information." [Italics added.] But O'Donnell also seems to be choosing his words carefully. He says of Rove:

He does not say in so many words (at least in any quote I can find) that Rove was the one who outed Plame as a CIA agent, though he seems happy to leave this implication, and he fooled the headline writers at HuffPo and Drudge, who both used the phrase "Rove Blew CIA Agent's Cover". [That incautiously worded HuffPo headline has now been dropped, though it's available here  and will still be recorded here when the Huffington people wise up and take it down.]  In fact, there seems to be less disagreement between O'Donnell and Rove's lawyer than O'Donnell's huffing suggests--maybe no disagreement at all. Both say Rove talked to Cooper. That presumably means Rove was a source that Cooper was protecting. Neither says that Rove outed Plame, and O'Donnell doesn't think that would be a crime anyway.** So what's the fuss about? Maybe not what Rove told Cooper but what Rove told the grand jury, and whether it was truthful. But O'Donnell doesn't offer any evidence  that Rove committed perjury.  ...

P.S.: Of course it's possible Rove did blow Plame's cover, even if O'Donnell doesn't claim he did and Rove's lawyer denies it. ... Or maybe Rove confirmed what Cooper already knew. ... Tom Maguire leads an expedition into the weeds. ...

P.P.S.: If, as Rove's lawyer told told Newsweek, Rove "signed a waiver authorizing reporters to testify about their conversations with him," how could he be "the" source Cooper was "protecting" at risk of going to jail? Cooper apparently did talk to the prosecutor about Cheney aide "Scooter" Libby after Libby gave Cooper permission. ...

**: Here's O'Donnell on Hardball from September 30, 2003:

MATTHEWS: Lawrence O'Donnell, you're out here as well. Lawrence, what do you think of this? Give a meter on this.

O'DONNELL: Well, Chris, I think, on a 10 scale, it's about a six. And it is actually going to go down from there, after another month or so of going up, because, at the base of this is an unprovable crime. There will not be a criminal accusation, because if you read the statute, as I've been studying it today, one of the elements that's absolutely necessary is, the person who releases this information must know, actively know, that the CIA is very actively trying to protect and hide the identity of this person.

It will be very easy for amateurs in handling CIA information, like a Karl Rove or someone else at the media end of the White House, to say, I did not know that the CIA was trying to hide her identity.

By the way, I don't think, based on my reading of the statute and the news accounts so far, that this woman fits the definition of the statute either. So I don't think you're going to be able to connect the criminal elements in the case. [Emph. added]

O'Donnell repeated his opinion that Plame "probably" doesn't fit the anti-coverblowing statute on McLaughlin last Friday (see very beginning of video clip here). ... 5:00 P.M. link

Should judges follow their principles? Up to point, Lord Kinsley: Alert reader R.C. notes two editorials on the new, Kinsleyfied LAT editorial page showing some things have not changed at the paper yet:

Editorial #1("... a Challenge for Bush")

[J]udicial philosophy means judicial philosophy. It does not mean political ideology. What's the difference? Judicial philosophy is about process: how a judge interprets the law to reach a conclusion. Political ideology is about the result: what policy gets implemented. A judge should have a coherent judicial philosophy and follow it even to a conclusion he or she would not prefer.

Editorial #2("O'Connor Leaves"):

The positive side of O'Connor's pragmatic approach to judging is that it applied a brake to the ideologically driven conservative counterrevolution. No one engaged with real-world facts, for instance, could allow Roe vs. Wade to be overturned. [Emph. added]

In other words, judges should have a coherent judicial philosophy and follow it to the conclusions they would not prefer ...  except for this one conclusion we really, really care about! ...

P.S.: When Kinsley was editor of the New Republic, if I recall, the official TNR position was that Roe was bad law, bad politics and should be overturned. ... Would it really be so terrible if Roe goes? Abortion would become a legislative decision again. Pro-choice forces would mainly win, with Democrats who wanted to preserve the option of abortion clobbering Republicans (and maybe retaking legislatures) all across the country. But Americans who oppose abortion would win a few points, and become part of the democratic dialogue--instead of being left to nurture resentment at the judges who exclude them and tell them there's nothing they can do about it. Good for democracy, good for Democrats, good for the rule of law--and OK for "choice." Would someone "engaged with real-world facts" have such a big problem with that outcome? Even if it meant they'd be accused of having a coherent judicial philosophy.

P.P.S.: Speaking of real-world facts, Conor Friedersdorf catches the LAT reporting on the front page about a legislative event--the approval of an anti-Sudafed provision in Riverside--that didn't actually happen. The paper then weaseled out of printing a correction. ... When I do that I get nasty emails! ... True, even diligent reporters can get it wrong. But was the LAT diligent? There are two bylines** on the initial story but not much evidence that either reporter actually attended the meeting at which the controversial law was voted on. ... Yes, it would be terrible for Southern California if we lost this valuable civic resource! ...

**: Four bylines if you count two more reporters listed at the end.

Update:Patterico says there's an unrelated  howler in the first sentence of the Times' O'Connor editorial. ... Plus: Lots more informed LAT-bashing at Brady Westwater's L.A. Cowboy. ... 3:37 P.M. link

A conservative I'd like to see mentioned for the Supreme Court:   Robert F. Nagel of the University of Colorado law school. I haven't followed his recent work, but he made mincemeat of Laurence Tribe and as a student wrote the greatest law review note ever, proving that the venerable constitutional doctrine allowing judges to strike down laws that don't have a "rational relationship" to a permissable legislative purpose is, to put it bluntly, a crock. ... [Any chance you would send [a] citation?-P.F. Note, Legislative Purpose, Rationality, and Equal Protection, 82 YALE L.J. 123, 128 (1972)] 3:17 A.M. link

"The New McCarthyism": E.J. Dionne sees "a kinder and gentler form of McCarthyism"  in Karl Rove's "therapy" speech:

What gave McCarthyism its power was the fact that the senator from Wisconsin did not invent the danger posed to the United States by Soviet communism. The Soviet Union was a real threat, and there were real communist spies working in America.

What made McCarthy and his allies so insidious was their eagerness to level the "soft on communism" charge against even staunchly anticommunist liberals.

But surely Joe McCarthy isn't a widely-condemned figure because he accused people of being "soft on communism." He's a widely-condemned figure because he accused people of being Communists! ... If Cold War Republicans couldn't call Adlai Stevenson "soft on Communism," what  couldthey do? 2:53 A.M. link

Two Smythe Items in a Row: Steve Smith discovers an intriguing correlation between robust housing prices and Democratic voting habits:

[E]very state (and the District of Columbia) that voted for John Kerry last year, without exception, was among the top 24 states in the country in terms of the increase in residential property values since 1980.

Do Democrats produce rising home values or do rising home values make people Democrats? (The latter seems implausible.) Are both phenomena related to high education levels and/or a large concentration of universities? And how does this correlation jibe with the much advertised GOP dominance in the fastest-growing states, which you'd think would be states with rapidly appreciating real estate? Explain it away if you can, Michael Barone! ... 2:26 A.M. link

Attention, Lipton Tea Company! Here's the MySpace entry of first round L.A. Laker draft pick Andrew Bynum. Hard not to like this guy. [via Smythe's World ] 1:53 A.M. link.


Drudge Report--80 % true. Close enough! Instapundit--All-powerful hit king. Joshua Marshall--He reports! And decides!  Wonkette--Makes Jack Shafer feel guilty.  Salon--Survives! kf gloating on hold. Andrew Sullivan--He asks, he tells. He sells! David Corn--Trustworthy reporting from the left.  Washington Monthly--Includes Charlie Peters' proto-blog. the drink. Virginia Postrel--Friend of the future! Peggy Noonan--Gold in every column. Matt Miller--Savvy rad-centrism. WaPo--Waking from post-Bradlee snooze. Keller's Calmer Times--Registration required.  NY Observer--Read it before the good writers are all hired away. New Republic--Left on welfare, right on warfare!  Jim Pinkerton--Quality ideas come from quantity ideas. Tom Tomorrow--Everyone's favorite leftish cartoonists' blog.  Ann "Too Far" Coulter--Sometimes it's just far enough. Bull Moose--National Greatness Central. John Ellis--Forget that Florida business! The cuz knows politics, and he has, ah, sources. "The Note"--How the pros start their day. Romenesko--O.K. they actually start it here. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities--Money Liberal Central. Steve Chapman--Ornery-but-lovable libertarian. Rich Galen--Sophisticated GOP insider. Man Without Qualities--Seems to know a lot about white collar crime. Hmmm. horror stories. Eugene Volokh--Smart, packin' prof, and not Instapundit! Eve Tushnet--Queer, Catholic, conservative and not Andrew Sullivan! WSJ's Best of the Web--James Taranto's excellent obsessions. Walter Shapiro--Politics and (don't laugh) neoliberal humor! Eric Alterman--Born to blog. Joe Conason--Bush-bashing, free most days. Lloyd Grove--Don't let him write about you. Arianna's Huffosphere--Now a whole fleet of hybrid vehicles. populists. Take on the News--TomPaine's blog.  B-Log--Blog of spirituality!  Hit & Run--Reason gone wild! Daniel Weintraub--Beeblogger and Davis Recall Central. Eduwonk--You'll never have to read another mind-numbing education story again. Nonzero--Bob Wright explains it all. John Leo--If you've got political correctness, he's got a column ... [More tk]