Friday, November 04, 2005

NYT: "Former Cheney Aide Enters Not-Guilty Plea in Leak Charges" (Eric Lichtblau)

Lawyers for Mr. Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, signaled at his arraignment on a five-count indictment that they would also seek to raise First Amendment issues in his defense.
The lawyers would not expand on their strategy, but legal analysts said the defense might be planning to seek access to reporters' notes regarding the leaking of a C.I.A. officer's identity. That would set the stage for another round of confrontations with journalists who have proved central to the investigation.
Complicating the case still further is what the special prosecutor in the case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, told the judge on Thursday was a "voluminous" amount of classified material related to the investigation. The process of declassifying that material, blacking out especially secret material, and granting Mr. Libby's new defense lawyers security clearance to review it is likely to take months, lawyers said.
The day's events dampened hopes among some Republicans for a quick resolution to a case that has already cast a long shadow over the White House. Immediately after the arraignment, Mr. Libby's lawyers sought to quell any speculation about a possible plea deal to resolve the politically volatile case.

The above is from Eric Lichtblau's "Former Cheney Aide Enters Not-Guilty Plea in Leak Charges" in this morning's New York Times. Charlie e-mails to note it as his pick for the best article in the paper this morning.

The worst?

It's always a crowded field. But this morning, let's go with Elaine Sciolino's "Italy's Top Spy Names Freelance Agent as Source of Forged Niger-Iraq Uranium Documents:"

Italy's spymaster identified an Italian occasional spy named Rocco Martino on Thursday as the disseminator of forged documents that described efforts by Iraq to buy uranium ore from Niger for a nuclear weapons program, three lawmakers said Thursday.
The spymaster, Gen. Nicolò Pollari, director of the Italian military intelligence agency known as Sismi, disclosed that Mr. Martino was the source of the forged documents in closed-door testimony to a parliamentary committee that oversees secret services, the lawmakers said.

Sciolino has a curious summary of the three part series in La Republicca. It's not the way I read the series. Granted, it's been many years since I studied the romance languages. But the series
mentions Judith Miller. Where is Judith Miller mentioned in Sciolino's article?

The series mentions Miller (and Michael Gordon) New York Times' article on the aluminum tubes and puts that (false) story into perspective. The Times article today doesn't. And what of the vast details on Larry Franklin and fellow AEI buddy Michael Ledeen as well as Harold Rhode? Was Sciolino's article butchered in the editing stage? Did she cover her bases? Why does the Times think it's okay to crib from La Repubblica yet omit key details (including comments on the Times)? Is it a mistake or is it the Times yet again trying to soft pedal a story and play the readers for idiots?

I thought the new tone, coming from Keller, was to seriously address the problems with Miller's reporting. Here Sciolino has the perfect opportunity to correct one false story (aluminum tubes) the Times (and Miller and Gordon) ran with -- and she can couch it with another paper. So why is it absent from Sciolino's article?

We'll note Rory O'Connor's "Mr. Inside Goes to Washington" (Rory O'Connor's Media Is Plural, Media Channel):

Here's a quick quiz for all you Plamegame experts: What actually are the Justice Department regulations regarding the appointment of 'special' prosecutors such as Patrick Fitzgerald?
Here's a hint: DOJ's own rules were ignored in December, 2003 by then Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey when (acting on behalf of then-Attorney General John Ashcroft, who recused himself owing to past ties with presidential adviser Karl Rove) Comey gave the special counsel job to his old pal Fitzgerald.
Still stumped? Okay, let me tell you. Federal rules (namely Title 28 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 600.3) require the appointment of a prosecutor "selected from outside the United States government." As United States Attorney in Chicago - one of the Bush Administration's top Justice representatives in the Midwest - Fitzgerald hardly qualifies.
Comey was obviously aware of what he was doing when he ignored the rules to appoint Fitzgerald. In fact, when asked by Fitzgerald for clarification, Comey wrote in February 2004 that his conferral to Fitzgerald of the title Special Counsel "should not be misunderstood to suggest that your position and authorities are defined and limited" by the relevant regulation.
Since that regulation stipulates that the ranks of federal prosecutors (like Fitzgerald) should be the last place to look for a special prosecutor, one must wonder: Why was Fitzgerald chosen? After all, the regulations were put in place, and prosecutors like Fitzgerald disqualified, so as to avoid any potential or perceived conflict of interest that might be created by having a member of any given presidential administration investigate that same administration.
Yet those rules were ignored by the Bush Justice Department, and the Bush Administration thus ended up with its own 'inside' man running the investigation. To date, that investigation has yielded only the minimum that would forestall a firestorm of criticism - the indictment of Scooter Libby on charges of covering up a crime that apparently never happened. No Karl Rove, no Dick Cheney, not even any answers to the most basic questions underlying the entire affair -- who revealed Valerie Plame's secret identity, and was that in itself a criminal act?

Terrance e-mails to note William Greider's "All the King's Media" (The Nation):

We are witnessing, I suspect, something more momentous than the disgrace of another American President. Watergate was red hot, but always about Richard Nixon, Richard Nixon. This convergence of scandal and failure seems more systemic, less personal. The new political force for change is not the squeamish opposition party called the Democrats but a common disgust and anger at the sordidness embedded in our dysfunctional democracy. The wake from that disgust may prove broader than Watergate's (when democracy was supposedly restored by Nixon's exit), because the anger is also splashing over once-trusted elements of the establishment.
Heroic truth-tellers in the Watergate saga, the established media are now in disrepute, scandalized by unreliable "news" and over-intimate attachments to powerful court insiders. The major media stood too close to the throne, deferred too eagerly to the king's twisted version of reality and his lust for war. The institutions of "news" failed democracy on monumental matters. In fact, the contemporary system looks a lot more like the ancien régime than its practitioners realize. Control is top-down and centralized. Information is shaped (and tainted) by the proximity of leading news-gatherers to the royal court and by their great distance from people and ordinary experience.
People do find ways to inform themselves, as best they can, when the regular "news" is not reliable. In prerevolutionary France, independent newspapers were illegal--forbidden by the king--and books and pamphlets, rigorously censored by the government. Yet people developed a complex shadow system by which they learned what was really going on--the news that did not appear in official court pronouncements and privileged publications. Cultural historian Robert Darnton, in brilliantly original works like The Literary Underground of the Old Regime, has mapped the informal but politically potent news system by which Parisians of high and low status circulated court secrets or consumed the scandalous books known as libelles, along with subversive songs, poems and gossip, often leaked from within the king's own circle. News traveled in widening circles. Parisians gathered in favored cafes, designated park benches or exclusive salons, where the forbidden information was read aloud and copied by others to pass along. Parisians could choose for themselves which reality they believed. The power of the French throne was effectively finished, one might say, once the king lost control of the news. (It was his successor, Louis XVI, who lost his head.)

Rod e-mails to note today's scheduled topics for Democracy Now!:

* Was the 2004 Election Stolen? A discussion with Mark Crispin Miller (author of the new book "Fooled Again: How the Right Stole the 2004 Election & Why They'll Steal the Next One Too") and investigative reporter Mark Hertsgaard.
* President Bush heads to Argentina where he is expected to be met by massive protests against U.S. trade policy.

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