Friday, October 21, 2005

NYT: "Cover-Up Issue Is Seen as Focus in Leak Inquiry" (David Johnston)

Among the charges that Mr. Fitzgerald is considering are perjury, obstruction of justice and false statement -- counts that suggest the prosecutor may believe the evidence presented in a 22-month grand jury inquiry shows that the two White House aides sought to cover up their actions, the lawyers said.
Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby have been advised that they may be in serious legal jeopardy, the lawyers said, but only this week has Mr. Fitzgerald begun to narrow the possible charges. The prosecutor has said he will not make up his mind about any charges until next week, government officials say.
With the term of the grand jury expiring in one week, though, some lawyers in the case said they were persuaded that Mr. Fitzgerald had all but made up his mind to seek indictments. None of the lawyers would speak on the record, citing the prosecutor's requests not to talk about the case.
[. . .]
But Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby may not be the only people at risk. There may be others in the government who could be charged for violations of the disclosure law or of other statutes, like the espionage act, which makes it a crime to transmit classified information to people not authorized to receive it.

The above is from David Johnston's "Cover-Up Issue Is Seen as Focus in Leak Inquiry" in this morning's New York Times.

There's a section that did go here that's been lost about seven times (computer problems). Point is, when you hear GOP talking points (smears against Wilson, et al) from some on the left and "left," we've already been over what they're protecting. We'll probably be dropping one smear peddler shortly but I was hoping he'd either change his focus or get honest before we stopped noting him.

Let's move on to better topics and do another another section of Parry's "Rise of the 'Patriotic Journalist'" (Consortium News), this time dealing with Iran-Contra:

Though the AP was not known as a leading investigative news organization -- and my superiors weren't eager supporters -- we were able to get ahead on the story in 1984, 1985 and 1986 because the New York Times, the Washington Post and other top news outlets mostly looked the other way.
It took two external events -- the shooting down of a supply plane over Nicaragua in October 1986 and the disclosure of the Iran initiative by a Lebanese newspaper in November 1986 -- to bring the scandal into focus.
In late 1986 and early 1987, there was a flurry of Iran-Contra coverage, but the Reagan administration largely succeeded in protecting top officials, including Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
The growing conservative news media, led by Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Washington Times, lashed out at journalists and government investigators who dared push the edges of the envelope or closed in on Reagan and Bush.
But resistance to the Iran-Contra scandal also penetrated mainstream news outlets. At Newsweek, where I went to work in early 1987, Editor Maynard Parker was hostile to the possibility that Reagan might be implicated.
During one Newsweek dinner/interview with retired Gen. Brent Scowcroft and then-Rep. Dick Cheney, Parker expressed support for the notion that Reagan’s role should be protected even if that required perjury. "Sometimes you have to do what’s good the country," Parker said. [For details, see
Lost History.]
When Iran-Contra conspirator Oliver North went on trial in 1989, Parker and other news executives ordered that Newsweek's Washington bureau not even cover the trial, presumably because Parker just wanted the scandal to go away.
(When the North trial became a major story anyway, I was left scrambling to arrange daily transcripts so we could keep abreast of the trial’s developments. Because of these and other differences over the Iran-Contra scandal, I left Newsweek in 1990.)
Iran-Contra special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh, a Republican, also encountered press hostility when his investigation finally broke through the White House cover-up in 1991. Moon's Washington Times routinely lambasted Walsh and his staff over minor issues, such as the elderly Walsh flying first class on airplanes or ordering room-service meals. [See Walsh's Firewall.]
But the attacks on Walsh were not coming only from the conservative news media. Toward the end of 12 years of Republican rule, mainstream journalists also realized their careers were far better served by staying on the good side of the Reagan-Bush crowd.
So, when President George H.W. Bush sabotaged Walsh's probe by issuing six Iran-Contra pardons on Christmas Eve 1992, prominent journalists praised Bush's actions. They brushed aside Walsh's complaint that the move was the final act in a long-running cover-up that protected a secret history of criminal behavior and Bush’s personal role.
"Liberal" Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen spoke for many of his colleagues when he defended Bush’s fatal blow against the Iran-Contra investigation. Cohen especially liked Bush’s pardon of former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, who had been indicted for obstruction of justice but was popular around Washington.
In a Dec. 30, 1992, column, Cohen said his view was colored by how impressed he was when he would see Weinberger in the Georgetown Safeway store, pushing his own shopping cart.
“Based on my Safeway encounters, I came to think of Weinberger as a basic sort of guy, candid and no nonsense – which is the way much of official Washington saw him," Cohen wrote. "Cap, my Safeway buddy, walks, and that’s all right with me."
For fighting too hard for the truth, Walsh drew derision as a kind of Captain Ahab obsessively pursuing the White Whale. Writer Marjorie Williams delivered this damning judgment against Walsh in a Washington Post magazine article, which read:
"In the utilitarian political universe of Washington, consistency like Walsh's is distinctly suspect. It began to seem … rigid of him to care so much. So un-Washington. Hence the gathering critique of his efforts as vindictive, extreme. Ideological. … But the truth is that when Walsh finally goes home, he will leave a perceived loser."
By the time the Reagan-Bush era ended in January 1993, the era of the "skeptical journalist"
was dead, too, at least on issues of national security.

I know this article is circulating among the community in copy & paste e-mails. Try to circulate it to one person outside the community this weekend. (I'm stealing a page from Maria's book on that.) (And remember Zach's the one who first steered us to the must-read article. Thank you, Zach.)

Wendy e-mails to note Katrina vanden Heuvel's "Congress Rejects Raising Minium-Wage" (Editor's Cut, The Nation):

Today's edition of the New York Times devoted exactly one sentence (on page A18) to one of the most important news stories of the day. "No Rise in Minimum Wage," the headline read. The nation's minimum wage has, shockingly, been stuck at $5.15 an hour since 1997. Yesterday, two proposals--from both Democrats and Republicans--were rejected in the House.

??? asks that we note "Robert Fisk: War is the 'Total Failure of the Human Spirit'" (Democracy Now!):

AMY GOODMAN: Now, he is one of scores of people, of journalists who have died most recently. Reuters photographer killed, his colleague arrested by U.S. Forces and held, another IS being held at the Abu Ghraib prison. Dozens of journalists. What about your colleagues in Iraq right now?
ROBERT FISK: The total figure of journalists who have died during and after the 2003 invasion up to date is now 68. The most recent being an Iraqi stringer again from The New York Times in Basra who was found dumped in a waste heap, executed with three bullets through the back of his head. I suspect the "Iraqi police" killed him like I suspect the Iraqi police killed the American journalist in Basra. Look, there's no doubt it's becoming the most dangerous story for journalists anywhere ever.
If you want to look at the worst period it would be in Bosnia in 1992 when a lot of journalists who had never been in wars before were sent in to Bosnia and were dying at the rate of dozens a month. That was primarily, I think, because they were sending in very young men whose experience of war was Hollywood where the hero, of course, always survives. And what is shocking about this is that almost all the journalists are being killed, almost without exception in Iraq, are experienced in many cases, middle-aged guys who have been under fire many times before, who know about the lethality of weapons and whose jobs and lives are simply no longer respected. I've never been in a war like Iraq war in which our lives are so endangered, so targeted by all sides it sometimes seems. And I'm not sure what we can do about it.
The American correspondents, some of them are guarded by armed Iraqis. The New York Times has a compound with four watch towers and armed Iraqis with "NYT" New York Times on their black t-shirts. NBC lives in a hotel in the Karada District with iron grills. The A.P. lives in the Palestine Hotel with two armored walls. Very rarely do they ever venture out and never do the American staffers go in the streets. As I say, we still go out with Iraqi friends. We actually go out to lunch in restaurants in Iraq. But I think that's probably because as long as we're with Iraqis and we look at our watch and say, 20 minutes, finish the meal, half an hour, got to be out. You're ok but it's a calculated risk.
As I said, I'm not sure the risks are worth it anymore. Our lives are worth nothing to the insurgents. Our lives appear to be worth virtually nothing to the Americans or the British. I think that when you reach a stage where our lives and our jobs are simply no longer respected, you do have to ask the question, is it worth it anymore. I think it is because I think Iraq is an appalling tragedy. Primarily for Iraqis, of course, who we don't put at the top of our list. We say 1,900 Americans, 93 Brits or whatever it may be. It's the Iraqis doing the suffering and the dying in fast numbers. Many of them because they trusted us and took our schilling and wanted to work for the police or wanted to work for construction companies building landing strips for the Americans or fortresses for the Americans.
But I think the whole Iraqi story for us as journalists is becoming almost impossible to cover. Certainly if you have a journalist who lives behind two armored walls of the hotel who just used a mobile phone to call British or American diplomats behind another concrete wall, you might as well live in County Mayo, Ireland or Santa Fe, New Mexico. There's no point in being there.

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