Saturday, November 19, 2005

Woody and Iraq

And I'm not the only one who's been left wondering. "Exactly what triggered Woodward's disclosure to [his editor] remains unclear," wrote Howard Kurtz.In his spin, Woodward is trying to put a positive face on things by making it sound as if he decided to come forward and disclose his Plamegate involvement to Len Downie of his own free will (a claim Downie seemed to back up when he told the Post that Woodward told him about the contact to alert him to a possible story). But a tell-tale excerpt from Woodward's appearance on Larry King the night before the Libby indictment indicates that he had to be prodded into coming clean.It reminds me of how Judy Miller suddenly and magically remembered the notes from that other meeting with Scooter Libby following her first grand jury visit. Jane Hamsher didn't buy Judy's claim, blogging: "It implies they all woke up one morning and spontaneously pulled the notebook out of their collective hindquarters, with no prosecutorial prodding. I'm not convinced..."
And I'm not convinced about the nature of Woodward's disclosure.Let's go to the tape:It's October 27. Woodward is part of the Larry King panel discussing the anticipated indictments. Coming back from a commercial break, King dramatically announces that Newsweek's Michael Isikoff (also on the panel) had whispered to him during the commercial that he had "a key question" for Woodward. Isikoff then pops the question, triggering an exchange that in hindsight is very revealing.

Isikoff announces that a White House source has told him that Woodward has information about Plamegate that he has not yet revealed. Excited, King prompts Woodward to "come clean," but Woodward denies that he has anything to offer. In fact, he doesn't just deny it, he scoffs at the notion. "I wish I did have a bombshell. I don't even have a firecracker." Come on, Bob, being perhaps the first recipient of the Plame leak isn't even a firecracker? Just a touch misleading, don't you think?
Then Woodward helpfully provides the rope with which he will eventually hang himself.
WOODWARD: I got a call from somebody in the CIA saying he got a call from the best New York Times reporter on this saying exactly that I supposedly had a bombshell. Finally, this went around that I was going to do it tonight or in the paper. Finally, Len Downie, who is the editor of the "Washington Post" called me and said, "I hear you have a bombshell. Would you let me in on it?"
So this wasn't something that Woodward suddenly decided to do. Instead, the cat was already out of the bag and Downie was pressing him for answers. At that point Woodward realized he needed to fess up to Downie. Lying to the public on national TV is one thing, but directly lying to your editor when confronted is apparently quite another in Woodward's ethics book.

The above is from Arianna Huffington's "Bob Woodward's 'Firecracker,' the Second Coming of Judy's Notebook?" (The Huffington Post) and we're doing a link-fest.

Where is Ruth? We'll post her tomorrow or later in the week. (As sure as I type this, she'll have her Ruth's Morning Edition Report finished. But on the phone, she said she needed more time for a polish.) So we'll do a link-fest.

On the topic of Woody, we'll note Ron's "Bob Woodward Sent Questions" (Why Are We Back In Iraq?):

Another unexplained oddity from Bob Woodward's statement derived from his appearance on Monday before Patrick Fitzgerald for the Plame leak investigation:
I also testified that I had a conversation with a third person on June 23, 2003. The person was I. Lewis "Scooter'' Libby, and we talked on the phone. I told him I was sending to him an 18-page list of questions I wanted to ask Vice President Cheney. On page 5 of that list there was a question about "yellowcake'' and the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate regarding Iraq's weapons programs. I testified that I believed I had both the 18-page question list and the question list from the June 20 interview with the phrase "Joe Wilson's wife'' on my desk during this discussion. I testified that I have no recollection that Wilson or his wife was discussed, and I have no notes of the conversation.
Woodward claims he sent Libby an "18-page list of questions I wanted to ask Vice President Cheney."
Later from Bob's statement:
"I testified that on June 27, 2003, I met with Libby at 5:10 p.m. in his office adjacent to the White House. I took the 18-page list of questions with the Page-5 reference to "yellowcake'' to this interview and I believe I also had the other question list from June 20, which had the "Joe Wilson's wife'' reference."

[. . .]
But putting aside the ethics question: what the hell happened to those 17 questions?
On September 30, 2003 White House employees were
ordered to comply with the grand jury request for all records related to the leak:
PLEASE READ: Important Message From Counsel's Office
We were informed last evening by the Department of Justice that it has opened an investigation into possible unauthorized disclosures concerning the identity of an undercover CIA employee. The Department advised us that it will be sending a letter today instructing us to preserve all materials that might be relevant to its investigation. Its letter will provide more specific instructions on the materials in which it is interested, and we will communicate those instructions directly to you. In the meantime, you must preserve all materials that might in any way be related to the Department's investigation. Any questions concerning this request should be directed to Associate Counsels Ted Ullyot or Raul Yanes in the Counsel to the President's office.
The President has directed full cooperation with this investigation.
Alberto R. Gonzales, Counsel to the President

What happened to the "18-page list of questions [Woodward] wanted to ask Vice President Cheney" that was sent to the Vice President's office?

Turning to Iraq, we'll note Andrew Stromotich's "The Advocate" (The Forum, Iraq Dispatches):

On September 29, 2005, shortly after 8 p.m., Amal Kadhum Swadi, and her youngest son Safa were arrested by U.S. forces in the Ghazaliya district of Baghdad on suspicion of planting an improvised explosive device.
They were just leaving their Baghdad home with other family members, and had opened their garage door to take out the family car, when the Swadi family were swarmed by multiple Humvees and numerous heavily armed U.S. Soldiers with weapons drawn.
Haloed by headlights and surrounded by agitated soldiers, mother and son were separated from each other and hidden from view of other family members behind a wall of troops and humvees. They were blindfolded and handcuffed tightly with the plastic zap straps and hoods that have become potent symbols of the dehumanization of Iraqis under occupation.
Ms. Swadi and Safa were made to squat on the highway’s dirt embankment while Zaid, her eldest son, was issued a handwritten receipt for his mother and brother. As Zaid yelled into the crowd of soldiers, trying to get response from his mother, Ms. Swadi and Safa were being packed into humvees for the trip to the
Airport Detention Facility for further processing, leaving Zaid in a cloud of dust, clutching his receipt and trying to console his sobbing sister.
I first met
Amal Swadi in Istanbul, at the culminating session of The World Tribunal on Iraq. Ms. Swadi was part of the Iraqi delegation invited to give testimony on their experiences of occupation; as a lawyer representing women held in Abu Ghraib and other U.S. and British detention facilities in Iraq, Ms. Swadi was there to speak on the degenerating state of human rights.
As I found out,
Ms. Swadi is no stranger to the occupation, or the media covering it. As a lawyer willing to take on the mass of occupation, she is well known for her outspoken advocacy for those unfortunates caught in the machinery of occupation.
Amal Swadi is 52, and was accompanied to the Istanbul tribunal by her daughter, and eldest son Zaid, who is also a lawyer. At the events opening party, I was presented to Ms. Swadi and Zaid, whose love and respect for his mother were instantly apparent. He studied me closely as I was introduced, and when I put my hand out to shake his mother’s, he smiled and took it warmly.
Ms. Swadi, a humble religious woman, immediately forgave my lack of understanding of Islamic culture, and after a short conversation, agreed to be interviewed (the video of this interview will be available shortly).
Ms. Swadi's involvement with investigations into female prisoners of the occupation started when she was told about a message the women detained in Abu Ghraib were trying to get to the resistance. The message, which had become public knowledge in the streets of Bagdad, was begging the resistance to attack Abu Ghraib with rockets, as the women held inside had given up hope, and could no longer bare the gross abuses and torture inflicted upon them daily. In Islam, as in Christianity, suicide is regarded as an ultimate sin, so these women were asking to be killed. Since then, Ms. Swadi has tirelessly worked for the recognition and release of these detainees (at the time I met her, she was representing nine of these shadow women).
Ms. Swadi told me of her visits to Abu Ghraib, and the difficulties she experienced in trying to gain access to the women held inside, including U.S. force’s outright denial of the women’s existence. When attempts to intimidate her did not work, dismissive guardsmen simply turned her away. When Ms. Swadi returned to Abu Ghraib for her second visit, she was accompanied by a determination cast in the previous sleepless night. Her resolve was eventually rewarded, and after waiting all day in one of the compound’s courtyards under the desert sun, without water or food, she was finally allowed access to her clients (six in total). Ms. Swadi told me the emotion of the experience was overwhelming, and she broke down and sobbed along with the first detainee presented.

Lastly, we'll note BuzzFlash's GOP Hypocrite of the Week:

Don't you love those little 20-minute gabfests between Bushevik partisan judicial hacks and senators? You know the tête-a-têtes that are supposed to reveal the "true" feelings and thoughts of the Republican foot soldier nominees. We love how Sam Alito, supposedly one of those "decent guy" Bush judges, is trying to weasel his way out of a 1985 application he filled out to join the Ed "Police State" Meese Justice Department. "The Constitution," Alito asserted, "does not protect a right to an abortion."
As even the New York Times noted, "Equally alarming is the notion that he fudged the truth to tell a potential employer what it wanted to hear." He didn't fudge anything on that application. But now it's his hypocrisy that's as clear as his right-wing agenda. That's why he merits being honored as the BuzzFlash GOP Hypocrite of the Week.

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