Saturday, October 22, 2005


AP: Reporter Miller denies NYT editor's charges - Oct. 22

By PETE YOST, Associated Press Writer 54 minutes ago

New York Times reporter Judith MillerWASHINGTON - In the latest fallout from the CIA leak investigation, reporter Judith Miller, left, and The New York Times are engaging in a very public fight about her seeming lack of candor in the case.

In a memo to the staff, which DemLog blogged here and here, Executive Editor Bill Keller says Miller "seems to have misled" the newspaper's Washington bureau chief, Phil Taubman, who said Miller told him in the fall of 2003 that she was not one of the recipients of a leak about the identity of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame. Miller says Keller's criticism is "seriously inaccurate."

"I certainly never meant to mislead Phil, nor did I mislead him," Miller was quoted as saying in a Times story Saturday.

According to a Times story on Oct. 16, Miller told Taubman two years ago that the subject of Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson and Wilson's wife, Plame, had come up in casual conversation with government officials, but that Miller said "she had not been at the receiving end of a concerted effort, a deliberate organized effort to put out information."

In recent weeks, Miller testified to the grand jury in the leak probe that she had discussed Wilson and his wife in three conversations with Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby in June and July of 2003.

Keller wrote that if he had known of Miller's "entanglement" with Libby, he might have been more willing to explore compromises with the prosecutor who was trying to get her testimony for the criminal investigation into the leak of Plame's identity.

Responding to Keller's criticism, Miller told the newspaper, "I was unaware that there was a deliberate, concerted disinformation campaign to discredit Wilson and that if there had been, I did not think I was a target of it."

"As for your reference to my 'entanglement' with Mr. Libby, I had no personal, social or other relationship with him except as a source," Miller said.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

Presented by Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas.


AAS: Editorial--Tom DeLay can't have it both ways


Tom & Christine DeLayU.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, the Sugar Land Republican (seen at right leaving court yesterday with his wife Christine), rose to power as House majority leader on his mastery of partisan warfare in the place where Americans expect such combat: election booths and the halls of Congress.

But now he and his lawyers are taking that partisan warfare into a new forum, the Texas courts. He should not be allowed to do it.

DeLay wants the courts to move his trial from Travis County because of its history of supporting Democratic candidates; he complains that Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, a Democrat, is prosecuting him for partisan reasons; and he wants state District Judge Bob Perkins of Austin, a Democrat who is hearing the case, to turn the case over to some other judge.

There's not much DeLay can do about Earle's power to prosecute the case.  But Travis County is not as solidly Democratic as DeLay says.

The western half of the county has supported many a Republican candidate and elected several, such as state Reps. Terry Keel and Todd Baxter and County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty. In the last presidential election, Democratic candidate John Kerry won Travis County — but President Bush still drew 147,885 votes, or 42 percent.

As for removing Perkins, the public should consider whether the court system ought to start dismissing every judge accused of partisan bias, even in the absence of any evidence of it.

Perkins has made some campaign contributions to various Democratic causes and candidates, the largest apparently being $1,000 to the Travis County Democratic Party. But such contributions are not exceptional among Texas judges, who run for office as party candidates.

Despite that, judges are expected to apply the law impartially, even (especially) to members of the other political party. If they don't, their rulings are subject to judicial appeal and their jobs to official discipline.

Nevertheless, DeLay argues that, given the political nature of his alleged crime of conspiring to launder political campaign donations, Perkins should not preside over his case. Perkins has referred the request to an administrative judge, B.B. Shraub, a Seguin Republican who was re-appointed to that post by another Republican, Gov. Rick Perry, in 2002.  Should the public conclude that, as a Republican, Judge Shraub cannot be trusted to make the right decision because of his party affiliation?

If DeLay were convicted, he no doubt would appeal all the way to the Court of Criminal Appeals. Should we assume that that court's judges — all nine of whom are Republicans — would be incapable of considering this fellow Republican's appeal on nonpartisan grounds?

And if Perkins conducts the trial, it's the Court of Criminal Appeals that will be looking over his shoulder.  What we've seen so far does not indicate that Perkins would be biased against DeLay.  It was Perkins who let DeLay turn himself in for booking in Houston, rather than Austin.

The resulting mug shot of DeLay was so flattering, The New York Times reported, that his allies in Washington joked that it could be used for the Congressional Directory.

DeLay wants it both ways: bring partisan warfare to the court, then complain there's partisan warfare in the court. The courts should not allow it to happen.

Source:  Austin American-Statesman.


Slate-Papers: Damascusgate - Oct. 22

By Jay Dixit - Posted Saturday at 4:47 AM CT

The Washington Post and the New York Times lead with, and the Wall Street Journal tops its worldwide news box with the mounting pressure on Syria. The Los Angeles Times leads with news that investigators have determined that levees in New Orleans failed due to flaws in their design, construction, and maintenance.

When the U.N. issued a report implicating high-ranking Syrian officials in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri (shown below left in posters by Lebanese Hariri protestors in Lebanonprotestors), it provoked what the WP called "a reaction seldom seen in the Middle East." The entire report was read on al-Jazeera, and Lebanese protestors called for their pro-Syrian president to step down, chanting, "There is no god but God, and Syria is the enemy of God." Syrian officials condemned the report, calling it "mere talk." But President Bush found it "deeply disturbing," and said the world should "respond accordingly." He and Condoleezza Rice called for a response from the U.N. Security Council, but the NYT reports that they were "careful not to recommend any specific possible actions." The WSJ suggests the possibility of "a drive for international sanctions."

Investigators have found that the New Orleans levees had "flaws at almost every level in the conception, design, construction and maintenance," which caused them to fail during Hurricane Katrina, reports the LAT. Among the factors contributing to the breaches: weak soil conditions; lax maintenance practices, which may have allowed the levees to be weakened by burrowing rodents and falling trees; and aboveground drainage canals that investigators say "are inviting the enemy into the city's backyard." Investigators said the levees were "weak and unsafe" partly because of inadequate safety margins in their construction. Whereas most public safety structures are designed to last 10,000 years, the levees were designed to last 50 or 100.

The WP reports that Americans are stockpiling the prescription antiviral medicine Tamiflu in preparation for the possibility of an influenza pandemic. Physicians are worried that home stockpiling could undermine international efforts to avert a pandemic, since it would mean less Tamiflu available when it is needed. As one doctor put it, "If there is an outbreak, we're going to have to rely on the CDC and state governments to put those drugs where we need them. And I don't want them in people's bathrooms." Ironically, research suggests that some strains of H5N1, the virus most likely to cause a pandemic, may be resistant to conventional doses anyway.

MiersThe LAT fronts news that legal experts are saying that Harriet Miers, right, is guilty of a "terrible" and "shocking" misuse of terms in her answers to a Senate questionnaire about constitutional issues she had worked on. In one response, she said that the Dallas City Council had to "comply with the proportional representation requirement of the Equal Protection clause." But Miers misunderstands "equal protection," say the experts, since "There is no proportional representation requirement under the Equal Protection clause." The White House says she was referring to the "one person, one vote" rule, in which case, the scholars say, she misused the phrase "proportional representation." Either way, they are surprised the White House didn't fact-check Miers' work before forwarding it to the Senate.

Both the WP and the NYT report on a memo from NYT executive editor Bill Keller to his staff. The WP runs the headline, "A Split Between The Times & Miller," and Judith Milleremphasizes that Bill Keller accused Judith Miller, left, of misleading the newspaper's Washington bureau chief. In covering itself, the NYT runs the headline "Times Editor Expresses Regrets Over Handling of Leak Case," noting that Keller wished he had "sat her down for a thorough debriefing." Miller misled the Times, Keller said, in her response when she was asked if she was one of the Washington journalists told that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA. The WP calls the memo "the first public split between Miller and the management."

murdered defense attorneyThe NYT fronts a report on the execution-style murder of Sadoon Al-Janabi, right, a defense attorney in Saddam Hussein's trial. The man was seized and shot in Baghdad after live TV coverage showed him presenting arguments in favor of a Hussein associate. The death raises doubts about whether a fair trial is possible. American and Iraqi officials scrambled to plan how to protect other lawyers and judges in the case.

There is crying in baseball … The WSJ fronts a report on "Vintage Base Ball." Aficionados play the sport as it was before such corrupting influences as catchers' masks, helmets, and padded mitts. It's not pretty: Fingers get "permanently crooked," players can't fit their wedding rings back on, and the game is punctuated by "the audible smack of a baseball on human flesh." But enthusiasts say it's worth it to play baseball the way it was originally meant to be played, back when players got so battered that shaking their hands was like "grabbing a bag of peanuts."

Jay Dixit is a writer in New York. He has written for the New York Times and Rolling Stone.  Source:  Slate Magazine.


WP: Miers Backed Race, Sex Set-Asides - Oct. 22

She Made Diversity A Texas Bar Goal

By Jo Becker and Sylvia Moreno - Washington Post Staff Writers - Saturday, October 22, 2005; Page A01

Harriet Miers sits for a 1992 interview as state bar presidentAs president of the State Bar of Texas, Harriet Miers, shown at left giving a 1992 interview, wrote that "our legal community must reflect our population as a whole," and under her leadership the organization embraced racial and gender set-asides and set numerical targets to achieve that goal.

The Supreme Court nominee's words and actions from the early 1990s, when she held key leadership positions as president-elect and president of the state bar, provide the first window into her personal views on affirmative action, an area in which the Supreme Court is closely divided and where Miers could tip the court's balance.

Full Washington Post article.  Submitted by: Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage: www.haigler.info

published at: http://demlog.blogspot.com.


Slate Magazine: Who is Scooter Libby

Libby: Straussianism and tequila shotsThe secretive Cheney aide at the heart of the CIA leak case, right.

By John Dickerson - Posted Friday, Oct. 21, 2005, at 9:48 PM PT

Who is I. Lewis Libby? The not-Karl-Rove character at the center of the CIA leak investigation is so mysterious he hides his first name. Rove we know: He's Bush's political id—a self-taught master of political hardball, a brash Texan who has plotted the president's advance for 25 years.

The adviser universally known as "Scooter" represents the other side of the Bush administration: the secret undisclosed side. Like the vice president he works for, Libby prefers to work on policy in the shadows and leave the politics to others. Unlike Rove, or even fellow neocons Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, Libby rarely speaks on the record; he almost never gives public speeches. Unlike the Texas gang, he doesn't boast at being an anti-intellectual and is in fact proud of his intellectual credentials. "Lewis Libby is a graduate of Yale University and Columbia University School of Law," reads the blurb under his picture on the back flap of his book, a historical novel about Japan at the turn of the 19th century.

If these two men are so different, why are Rove's and Libby's names now spending so much time in the same sentence? Both are under investigation by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald for Valerie Plame-Wilsontelling reporters that Joe Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, left, worked at the CIA after Wilson challenged the administration's claim that Saddam Hussein sought to buy enriched uranium from Niger. Though there is still much we do not know about their actions, one thing we can say is that the two were almost certainly leaking for different reasons. Rove's principal instinct would have been to knock back a threat to Bush's political standing. Libby's natural urge would have been to push back against the CIA with whom he and his boss had been waging an ongoing war over the intelligence that lead to the war itself, a war for which he was a key proponent, and in which he continues to deeply believe.

According to one report, Libby became so obsessed with knocking back Wilson's claims, White House advisers had to step in. Arguing the point would only keep the charges alive and harm the president politically.

"Everything you know about Cheney you know about Scooter," says one who worked with him closely. That means that Libby is discreet, big-thinking, detail-oriented, and addicted to action over show. Libby is not only chief of staff but the vice president's top foreign-policy adviser. In the rare photos of Bush's war counsel, Libby can be seen in the background. He particularly shares his boss' fixation on external nuclear and bioterrorism threats. When Cheney was tasked with preparing a homeland security plan before the 9/11 attacks, it was Libby who handled it. He was minutes away from a meeting on the final report when the planes hit the World Trade Center.

Libby is a neocon's neocon. He studied political science at Yale under former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and began working with his former teacher under Cheney at the Defense Department during the George H.W. Bush administration, thinking about grand national security strategy in the post-Cold War era. When a document outlining their thinking leaked to the New York Times, the foreign policy establishment, including many of the more moderate voices in the first Bush administration, howled at its call for pre-emptive action against nations developing weapons of mass destruction. After 9/11, what was once considered loony became the Bush Doctrine.

Libby is not political in the glad-handing way—he looks as lost as Cheney at Republican Lincoln Day dinners. But he plays internal politics with force and lack of emotion. If the State Department under Colin Powell hated Dick Cheney, it hated Scooter almost as much, viewing him accurately as a pre-eminent member of the cabal hellbent for war with Iraq. It was Libby who sat with Powell in the final session before Powell's U.N. speech, eyeing every detail to make sure that the Secretary of State didn't water down the case. When Libby talked privately to friends about his rivals at State during the Powell era, it often sounded like the head of one political party speaking about the other, ascribing the worst motives and rarely giving Powell's team the benefit of the doubt.

Now no one is giving Libby the benefit of the doubt, at least in interpreting his mysterious jailhouse note to Judy Miller. That letter ended with a personal passage that seemed to cry out for accompaniment by moody background music: "You went into jail in the summer. It is fall now. You will have stories to cover—Iraqi elections and suicide bombers, biological threats and the Iranian nuclear program. Out West, where you vacation, the aspens will already be turning. They turn in clusters, because their roots connect them. Come back to work—and life. Until then, you will remain in my thoughts and prayers. With admiration, Scooter Libby."

Was this a hint to Miller about staying on the same page—either with her journalistic colleagues who seem to have backed Libby's story to the grand jury, or with her fellow former believer in Saddam's WMD stockpiles? Patrick Fitzgerald certainly wanted to know if Libby was trying to coach the reluctant witness to bolster his own case. Libby helpfully pointed out earlier in the letter that "every other reporter's testimony makes clear that they did not discuss Ms. Plame's name or identity with me, or knew about her before our call."

Or, Scooter may have been playing with coded meanings that most of us are too dull to see. This suspicion arises naturally because of Libby's connection with Straussianism. Leo Strauss, the German-Jewish political philosopher, is seen by many as one of the intellectual fathers of neconservatism. Wolfowitz, Libby's teacher at Yale, was a graduate student at the University of Chicago during Strauss' ascendancy, and Libby won membership into that conservative club via Wolfowitz. Part of Strauss' teaching is that ancient philosophers wrote on two levels: for the mumbling masses, but also, and often in contradiction of the literal message, on an "esoteric" level that only initiates could make out. Some Straussians have adopted this code themselves. So, where Homer Simpson would interpret Libby's note as ham-handed fawning over Judy, a Straussian close reader might discern something more devious: a literary file in the cake for both of them.

It's surprising, in any case, to find Libby is at the center of a press scandal. The daily communications operation is not something he cares much about. Rove, by contrast, spends a portion of every day running his own press operation. He sends BlackBerry messages, forwards polling data, and argues his case to influential journalists. Libby flies at a higher altitude, talking mostly to marquee columnists and preferring longer and more in-depth conversations to the rat-a-tat-tat required by reporters on deadline.

Libby does enjoy the intellectual cat-and-mouse game of longer form interviews, those who have worked with him say. He challenges basic assumptions and presses on a reporter's sloppy definitions. In my experience interviewing him, if a line of reasoning was in any way harmful to the administration or the vice president, it was sometimes impossible to get past the gorilla dust. His shimmy and shake sometimes got so bad, I wondered if he would even admit to working for the vice president. "It's very lawyerly kind of amusement," says a former aide.

When the Cheneys hosted a party in February 2002 for the paperback publication of Libby's book, the guest list was not filled with workaday journalists, but with the elite from New York and Washington: Sally Quinn and Ben Bradlee, Leon Wieseltier and Maureen Dowd. In those early days after 9/11, it seemed like the relationship between the press and the media elite might turn out to be a fairly cozy one. The Bushies hated "old Washington," but as Libby and the vice president spoke from the landing at the bottom of the stairs, it seemed as if their half of the administration understood the quiet commerce between the ruling elite and the more permanent Washington establishment. Maureen Dowd, who was invited to that party, ended that fantasy.

Libby is fussy and precise with reporters, which is why friends and colleagues find it so hard to believe that he would have been involved in leaking Plame's identity, obstructing justice, or committing perjury. Libby was an exacting source for anyone who talked to him. After using a Libby quote, it was not unusual for reporters to receive a call from the vice president's press shop. Mr. Libby wanted to know why only a portion of his comment was used. "He would prefer that if a reporter was going to quote him that it be an unedited transcript," says one who worked closely with him. Other reporters were scolded if a Libby quote hidden under the attribution of "senior administration official" was placed near sentences that he thought might identify him, even if no reasonable reader could come to such a conclusion. In other words, he's as careful as they come in Washington.

Those who know him say that if you're going to be stuck in an undisclosed location with somebody, Scooter Libby isn't a bad choice. He can do tequila shots on the saddle-shaped seats of the Wyoming bar near the vice president's vacation house and deconstruct poetry afterward. He is also athletic. He skis, plays ultimate Frisbee, and rode a mountain bike so hard one time at an AEI retreat, he fell and broke his collar bone. Once, at one of the undisclosed locations, he helped the Cheney grandchildren play pretend-Halloween, answering the door to the tricksters and handing out candy as if they were in their own neighborhood.

A man who likes to stay out of the limelight knows something about disguises. But I. Lewis Libby appears to be on the verge of losing the option of a low profile for good. If Fitzgerald announces his indictment, "Irvin" will soon become a household name.

John Dickerson is Slate's chief political correspondent. He can be reached at slatepolitics@gmail.com.  Source:  Slate Magazine.

Photograph of I. Lewis Libby by Harry Hamburg/KRT.  Submitted by Dave Haigler, Abilene, Tx.

Published at: http://demlog.blogspot.com.

Friday, October 21, 2005


AP: NYT admits lax oversight of reporter Miller

By JOHN SOLOMON, Associated Press Writer - 13 minutes ago

Judith MillerWASHINGTON - The New York Times' Reporter Judith Miller, left, belatedly gave prosecutors her notes of a key meeting in the CIA leak probe only after being shown White House records of it, and her boss declared Friday she appeared to have misled the newspaper about her role.

In a dramatic e-mail, Executive Editor Bill Keller wrote Times' employees he wished he'd more carefully interviewed Miller and had "missed what should have been significant alarm bells" that she had been the recipient of leaked information about the CIA officer at the heart of the case.

"Judy seems to have misled (Times Washington bureau chief) Phil Taubman about the extent of her involvement," Keller wrote in what he described as a lessons-learned e-mail. "This alone should have been enough to make me probe deeper."

Keller said he might have been more willing to compromise with Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald "if I had known the details of Judy's entanglement" with Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Miller's attorney, Bob Bennett, did not immediately return calls seeking her response to Keller.

Fitzgerald is investigating the disclosure of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity.

Meanwhile, two lawyers familiar with Fitzgerald's investigation told The Associated Press that Fitzgerald first learned from White House records that Miller had met as early as June 23, 2003, with Libby and discussed the CIA operative.

In her first grand jury appearance Sept. 30 after being freed from prison for refusing to testify, Miller did not mention the meeting and retrieved her notes about it only when prosecutors showed her visitor logs showing she had met with Libby in the Old Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House.

The lawyers spoke only on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing secrecy of the grand jury probe and the prosecutor's desire to keep his communications with lawyers and witnesses confidential.

One lawyer familiar with Miller's testimony said the reporter told prosecutors at first that she did not believe the June meeting would have involved Plame. Miller said that, because she had just returned from covering the Iraq war, she was probably giving Libby an update about her experiences there, the lawyer said.

However, Miller retrieved her notes and discovered they indicated that Libby had given her information about Plame at that meeting. Fitzgerald then arranged for her to return to the grand jury to testify about it, the lawyers said.

The evidence of that meeting has become important to the investigation because it indicates that Libby was passing information to reporters about Plame well before her husband, Joseph Wilson, went public with accusations that the Bush administration had twisted prewar intelligence on Iraq to exaggerate the threat it posed.

AP reported earlier this week Rove testified Libby may have been his initial source of information inside the White House about Plame before he talked to reporters. Prosecutors have linked the vice president's top aide to contacts with at least three reporters in the affair. Libby met three times with Miller before Plame was outed, though she never wrote a story herself.

Keller's e-mail was designed to quell tensions inside a newsroom roiled by Miller's close connections to Libby, a key figure in the leak probe. Miller's reporting on possible weapons of mass destruction in Iraq before the invasion bolstered the Bush administration's arguments for action.

Later, after no such WMD weapons were found, she and the paper admitted some information she reported was flawed. The Bush administration likewise acknowledged some of it prewar intelligence was erroneous.

Keller said in his e-mail he believed the paper was too slow to correct the original reporting and to get to the bottom of the facts about Miller's involvement with Libby.

"If we had lanced the WMD boil earlier, we might have damped any suspicion that THIS time the paper was putting the defense of a reporter above the duty of its readers," he said.

Source: AP-Yahoo News. See Bill Spier's take on this story blogged below.


AFP: Hughes says desecration, if true, will be punished

Karen Hughes with an Indonesian Muslim child during her visit to Nurani Dunia's Community Development Center in Jakarta JAKARTA (AFP) - US goodwill envoy Karen Hughes, right, with an Indonesian Muslim child during her visit to Nurani Dunia's Community Development Center in Jakarta today, said that if American soldiers had desecrated bodies in Afghanistan they would be punished just like those guilty of torture and sexual humiliation at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Hughes, charged with polishing America's image abroad, told journalists in Indonesia that she had worked with the Pentagon to make sure they got out the message "quickly and aggressively" that the incident was not in line with policy.

Australian television reported on Wednesday that soldiers had burned the bodies of two suspected Taliban militants and afterwards used the incident to insult villagers and to try to provoke them into attacking US-led coalition troops.

"It's abhorrent," said Hughes, the undersecretary of state for public diplomacy. "It will be investigated. And just as in the case of Abu Ghraib, if people committed violations of our laws and policies they will be brought to justice.

"If true it is a complete violation of our policies which require that remains be treated with respect and in compliance with the Geneva convention." Under the Geneva Convention, the disposal of war dead "should be honorable, and, if possible, according to the rites of the religion to which the deceased belonged." Islamic tradition requires the bodies of Muslims to be washed, prayed over, wrapped in white cloth and buried, if possible, within a day.

President George W. Bush's administration is said to be very concerned about the impact of the new video on the US image in the Muslim world. Hughes, a close confidante of Bush and the State Department's top imagemaker, has faced a grilling over US policy from students on her current trip to Malaysia and Indonesia, the world most populous Muslim country. The latest incident comes with the US's reputation already tarnished by the sexual humiliation of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and allegations of mistreatment of 'war on terror' inmates at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

Source: AFP-Yahoo News.


Reuters: Lebanese poster honors Hariri - Oct. 21

poster of Rafik al-HaririA poster of slain former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri hangs on a building in the Lebanese capital of Beirut October 21, 2005.
Syria headed on Friday for a diplomatic showdown with the Security Council after a U.N. probe implicated high-ranking Syrian officials in the murder of Hariri.
(Jamal Saidi/Reuters)
Submitted by Dave Haigler, Abilene, Tx.


Spier: NYT Keller Sorry for Bad Judgment With Miller

A letter from the NYT Bill Keller to his staff is circulating on the Net. Two and one half years after Judith Miller gobbled up fallacious information from her WH buddies and published them in the NYT, Keller now wishes he had been more diligent. Yup.

First Mia Culpa”: “I wish we had dealt with the controversy over our coverage of WMD as soon as I became executive editor. At the time, we thought we had compelling reasons for kicking the issue down the road.”

Is he kidding? The most important newspaper in the United States had published lies that have had horrendous consequences, and he thought they had “compelling reasons” for waiting a year to correct the record! He says he had just taken over as chief and had to deal with the Jayson Blair issue to regain “equilibrium” for the paper.

Second Mia Culpa: “ I wish that when I learned Judy Miller had been subpoenaed as a witness in the leak investigation, I had sat her down for a thorough debriefing, and followed up with some reporting of my own. It is a natural and proper instinct to defend reporters when the government seeks to interfere in our work. And under other circumstances it might have been fine to entrust the details -- the substance of the confidential interviews, the notes -- to lawyers who would be handling the case.”

What was he thinking? Miller shills for Cheney and the war machine in his paper, gets called before a federal grand jury because she might be part of a big conspiracy or a patsy for its conspirators, and he takes a pass on grilling her?

The remainder of his letter is just too painful to read.

D.H.: See AP story on this blogged above.

Other links:


Google News.

Latest post to DemLog.


AAS: DeLay judge bucks recusal motion to a Republican judge

By Laylan Copelin - AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF - Friday, October 21, 2005

Travis County District Court Judge Bob Perkins agreed this morning to let a presiding judge review whether Perkins should remove himself from the case against U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land, seen below left, talking to one of his attoreys in court this morning.

DeLay, talking with attorney in courtPerkins, a Democrat, has contributed to various Democratic candidates and causes, including MoveOn. org, which has been harshly critical of DeLay and is now selling T-shirts with DeLay's mug shot on it.

Perkins will ask B.B. Schraub, presiding judge of the third administrative judicial region, to review DeLay's motion that Perkins recuse himself. Schraub is a Seguin Republican who was reappointed to the administrative post by Gov. Rick Perry in 2002.

"The best way for me to handle this is to get in touch with Judge Schraub and ask him to hear it," Perkins said at DeLay's arraignment. "This is going to continue to be an issue anytime there's a Republican defendant or a Democratic judge or vice versa."

Source:  Austin American-Statesman breaking news.


Haigler: NAACP supports Black Chamber banquet

Abilene, Oct. 21 - NAACP chapter president Petty Hunter arranged for members to host several tables at the Abilene Black Chamber of Commerce banquet last night at the Abilene County Club. NAACP friends (l-r) Hollany, Petty, Tonya, Becky, Felicia, Alicia, Nancy & Iziar, are seen at the two tables, right.

Ms. Tenia Fitts gave the welcome. Kyna Grigsby of KRBC-TV was the MC. Rev. Eddie Jordan of New Light Baptist Church gave the invocation.

Spirited entertainment was provided by Mrs. Susan Petty, seen below left, singing happy songs at the piano.

Mr. Leon Petty, V.P. of the Chamber, introduced the speaker, who was State Senator Royce West of Dallas, below right. Sen. West spoke on economic issues of importance to Texas, such as public education, including the escalating costs of college. Quoting from Judge Dietz's ruling in Austin that the current Robin Hood system of funding public schools is unconstitutional, Sen. West said that the economy of Texas is declining due to its failure to adequately fund public schools. The senator asked for a show of hands of those who would support at least a debate on having a state income tax, versus those who would not, and those favoring such a debate outnumbered those not by at least 3 to 1. Sen. West received a standing ovation. The Abilene Reporter News's story on this event (free sign-in required) did not report the show of hands on a state income tax and said the speech was not motivational.

Chamber president Floyd Miller presented a special community service award to Neomia Banks of Neomia Banks Insurance.

Rev. Leon Whaley of Mt. Moriah Baptist Church gave the benediction.

Presented by Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas.

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Slate-Papers: Bulletproofing Gun-Makers - Oct. 21

By Eric Umansky - Posted Friday at 3:04 AM CT

The Los Angeles Times and New York Times lead with the House voting to shield gun-makers and dealers from liability lawsuits. The bill, which has long been a top priority for the NRA, passed 283 to 144, with 59 Democrats in support. It now goes to President Bush. The Washington Post leads with a U.N. report charging that top Syrian officials and their Lebanese lackeys were responsible for the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. U.N. investigator Detlev Mehlis, of Germany, below left, hands U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan the report on the assassination of former Detlev Mehlis, left, with U.N. Secretary General Kofi AnnanPremier Hariri during a meeting in Annan's office at the United Nations headquarters yesterday. USA Today's lead does the numbers and concludes that 1,300 U.S. residents are moving to the coast of the Atlantic and Gulf daily. The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with the currently Cat 4 Wilma approaching Cancun, where it's expected to hit today.

The assassination of Hariri could not have been performed "without the approval of top-ranked Syrian security officials and could not have been further organized without the collusion of their counterparts in the Lebanese security forces," says the U.N.'s report. The investigation isn't done. But citing "a diplomat with intimate knowledge of the inquiry," the NYT says the main suspect is Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad's brother-in-law, who is also Syria's intel chief. "There is absolutely no doubt, it goes right to the top," said the diplomat. "This is Murder, Inc."

The U.N Web site offers a link to the report. But the link is broken, at least as of 4 a.m. (Perhaps Ambassador Bolton can lodge a complaint.) For those wanting more detail on the report, get up from your desk and pick up a copy of the Journal. It has an op-ed from a respected Lebanese journalist, who delves into the details. One tidbit: A suspect in the killing "called Lebanese President Emile Lahoud, a close Syrian ally, on his personal cell phone minutes after the blast."

The WP off-leads, LAT fronts, and NYT, oddly, stuffs a FEMA bureaucrat, Marty J. Bahamonde, seen below right, testifying - who was the only agency worker in New Marty J. Bahamonde, FEMA official in New Orleans, testifyingOrleans during Katrina - explaining in congressional hearings that he warned superiors about the situation in New Orleans but was blown off. The day Katrina hit, he e-mailed five FEMA officials about what he wrote was the "worst possible news": A levee had broken. "The situation is past critical," he wrote later that week. "Hotels are kicking people out, thousands gathering in the streets with no food or water." Former FEMA head Michael Brown recently testified that the bureaucrat had sent "fairly routine kind of e-mail." The first night after the storm, as the official was trying to get his boss's attention, one of Brown's handlers said Brownie needed serious down-time to eat: "He needs much more than 20 or 30 minutes." The LAT notices that Brown's consulting gig for FEMA was just extended by 30 days.

USAT and LAT front a study showing that a diabetes drug on the verge of FDA approval appears to increase the risk of heart attack or stroke threefold - to about a 1 percent risk. The FDA has already said its approval is contingent on getting more data about the risks.

Just about everybody at least tries to push the Plame story forward. A front-page LAT piece has the most success, saying Scooter Libby was so worked up about Joseph Wilson's charges that "he monitored all of Wilson's television appearances and urged the White House to mount an aggressive public campaign against him." The piece is cited - dagger-style - to "former aides," one of whom appears to have provided the LAT with a "packet that included excerpts from press clips and television transcripts of Wilson's statements, and that were divided into categories, such as 'political ties' or 'WMD.' " A "former White House official" told the LAT, "Scooter had a plan to counter Joseph Wilson (shown below left on the cover of his book, The Politics of Truth, which is featured on his webpage) and a passionate desire to do so."

The WSJ emphasizes the obvious: that the special prosecutor may be considering using the (much-criticized) Espionage Act. But the paper adds, interestingly, that the charges could be based not just on the revealing of "Plame's identity but also other secrets related to national security."

The NYT also fronts Plame specula-news. There's no news in the story, nor new speculation: The prosecutor might go after Rove and, wait for it, Libby, for, allegedly, misleading the grand jury.

A Page One NYT piece ponders the estimated 3 million Pakistanis made homeless by last week's earthquake. Winter is weeks away, access is still limited to the mountain villages, and the Times says there are not enough cold tents in the world to house everybody. Meanwhile, foreign donors have pledged $90 million, one-third of what the U.N. said is needed. (The Times' lists places to donate.)

The NYT goes inside with a government report concluding that National Guard units in the U.S. have on average just 34 percent of their equipment available. The response to Katrina, said the report, "was more complicated because significant quantities of critical equipment such as satellite communications equipment, radios, trucks, helicopters and night-vision goggles were deployed to Iraq."

Earlier this week, TP noted Judy Miller's non-cooperation with her own paper, including the fact that reporter Miller, below right, apparently hasn't let Judy Miller, testifying before Congressthe Times' own reporters look at her notebook, and wondered whether the Times' publisher might like to share his stance on Miller's lack of cooperation. It's now been five days since the Miller takeout was published, and judging by a Nexis search, Sulzberger has yet to offer his position. In fairness, he has talked about the larger Miller saga. "We can all hope this period is behind us," he told the Journal.

Eric Umansky (www.ericumansky.com) writes "Today's Papers" for Slate. He can be reached at todayspapers@slate.com. Source: Slate Magazine.

Submitted by Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas. Published at http://demlog.blogspot.com.


AAS: DeLay wants new judge, new trial location - Oct. 21

Former majority leader begins fight against felony charges.

Austin - Citing partisan differences, U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land (shown below right in a mug shot taken in Houston Thursday), wants a new judge to hear his conspiracy and money-laundering charges somewhere other than Travis County.

DeLay at Harris County Sheriff's officeDeLay's lawyer on Thursday asked state District Judge Bob Perkins, a Democrat, to remove himself from the case because of donations the judge made to the Democratic Party, its candidates and the political organization, Moveon.org.

By challenging the judge's impartiality, lawyer Dick DeGuerin is taking a page from his playbook a dozen years ago when Perkins removed himself from a trial of U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison because the judge gave money to her Senate opponent. DeGuerin also got that trial on charges of official misconduct moved to Fort Worth where he won an acquittal in an abbreviated trial.

DeGuerin filed his motions one day before DeLay is scheduled to appear before Perkins for the first time. The former U.S. House majority leader is expected to plead not guilty this morning to charges of conspiracy and money laundering before the 2002 election during a brief hearing beamed live to cable outlets and before a packed courtroom.

"It's been non-stop," said D'Ann Underwood, Perkins' judicial aide, of the national media's focus on the DeLay case. During her 26 years, Underwood has seen other notable politicians come before the judge - Texas Speaker Gib Lewis and Hutchison to name two. "But it wasn't ever like this," she said.

Also Thursday, DeLay sidestepped news reporters awaiting his booking in Austin or his home county by quietly being fingerprinted, photographed and released on $10,000 bail at a Houston jail, instead. The whole affair took about 30 minutes.

"Now Ronnie Earle has the mug shot he wanted," said DeLay lawyer Dick DeGuerin, referring to the Travis County district attorney who sought the indictments. "I wanted to avoid the circus. . . . He wanted a perp walk, and we did not want to do it."

DeLay also doesn't want to be tried in Travis County.

In his filing, DeGuerin cited 34 contributions from Perkins to Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, the Travis County Democratic Party, the Democratic National Committee, and 2002 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tony Sanchez, among others, over the past three years. The donations ranged from $35 to the Texas Democratic Party to $1,000 to the Travis County Democratic Party.

DeGuerin wrote that Perkins' campaign donations "don't pass the smell test" when he is asked to preside over a case questioning campaign practices of DeLay, his political committee Texans for a Republican Majority and the Republican National Committee.

Under that logic, Earle replied, a criminal defendant could not be tried unless the judge belonged to the defendant's political party. "We don't believe that to be the law or good public policy," Earle said. He added that a fair trial can be held in Travis County.

DeGuerin's motion asked Perkins to step aside or, at least, allow Judge B.B. Schraub, the presiding judge of the 3rd Administrative Judicial Region, to decide whether Perkins should preside. Schraub, a Seguin Republican, was re-appointed to the administrative post by Gov. Rick Perry in 2002.

Travis County jurors also would be hostile to DeLay, DeGuerin argued. He said the "seemingly interminable" investigation of DeLay by Earle, a Democrat, has generated "massive and unrelenting media coverage" in Travis County, "one of the last enclaves of the Democratic Party in Texas."

DeGuerin said DeLay is a controversial politician whose efforts to split Travis County into three congressional districts in 2003 remains highly unpopular locally. The filing included more than 40 affidavits by local residents saying DeLay could not get a fair trial locally.

Also, on Thursday DeLay's legal team filed a brief arguing that the state conspiracy statute does not apply to the election code or to money-laundering and the indictments should be thrown out. He also wrote that DeLay's alleged offense - laundering $190,000 of corporate money through the Republican National Committee - occurred more than three years ago. There is a three-year deadline for pursuing a money-laundering charge.

Prosecutors are expected to answer the arguments in writing in a few days.

One issue, however, will be whether DeLay waived the statute of limitations during negotiations to plead guilty to a misdemeanor. DeGuerin argued that DeLay waived the deadline only for misdemeanors, not the felonies he is now charged with.

GOP rules in Congress forced DeLay to resign his position as majority leader when two Travis County grand juries indicted him on felonies in late September and early October. Last month DeLay's legal team tried to avoid that outcome by offering to let their client plead to a misdemeanor if the appellate courts upheld the state election law as constitutional.

The talks, however, collapsed; DeLay was indicted; and the appellate courts are still reviewing a constitutional challenge to the election code.

DeGuerin has accused Earle of trying to coerce a guilty plea from his client, shopping his accusations to three grand juries and violating the secrecy of grand jury proceedings. DeLay has given several televised interviews, blasting the investigation as politically motivated. And supporters of DeLay aired a commercial depicting Earle as an out-of-control Rottweiler.

Judge Perkins is not expected to rule on any pre-trial motions today. Instead, he probably will schedule arguments on DeLay's motions next month when he is hearing similar motions from DeLay's co-defendants, John Colyandro and Jim Ellis.

Colyandro ran Texans for a Republican Majority, a committee DeLay created to help elect Republican state lawmakers who, in turn, would redraw congressional districts. Ellis was DeLay's right-hand fundraiser in Washington and a consultant to the Texas Committee.

State law prohibits spending corporate money on campaigns, but a committees can spend it on administrative overhead.

In the final weeks of the 2002 campaign, Colyandro sent a blank check to Ellis, who had scheduled a meeting with Terry Nelson with the Republican National Committee. He filled in the check for $190,000 - drawn from corporate funds - and gave it to Nelson. Two weeks later, an arm of the RNC gave the same amount in political donations to seven Texas legislative candidates.

lcopelin@statesman.com; 445-3617. Source: Austin American-Statesman.

Presented by Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
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Thursday, October 20, 2005


Newsweek: Secrets, Evasions and Classified Reports

The CIA leak case isn't just about whether top officials will be indicted. A larger issue is what Judith Miller's evidence says about White House manipulation of the media.


The lengthy account by New York Times reporter Judy Miller about her grand jury testimony in the CIA leak case inadvertently provides a revealing window into how the Bush administration manipulated journalists about intelligence on Iraq's nonexistent weapons of mass destruction.

Whatever the implications for special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's probe, Miller describes a conversation with Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis (Scooter) Libby, below left, on July 8, 2003, where he appears to significantly misrepresent the contents of still-classified material from a crucial prewar intelligence-community document about Iraq.

Scooter LibbyWith no weapons of mass destruction having been found in Iraq and new questions being raised about the case for war, Libby assured Miller that day that the still-classified document, a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), contained even stronger evidence that would support the White House's conclusions about Iraq’s weapons programs, according to Miller's account.

In fact, a declassified version of the NIE was publicly released just 10 days later, and it showed almost precisely the opposite. The NIE, it turned out, contained caveats and qualifiers that had never been publicly acknowledged by the administration prior to the invasion of Iraq. It also included key dissents by State Department intelligence analysts, Energy Department scientists and Air Force technical experts about some important aspects of the administration's case.

The assertion that still-secret material would bolster the administration's claims about Iraqi WMD was "certainly not accurate, it was not true," says Jessica Mathews, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, who coauthored a study last year, titled "A Tale of Two Intelligence Estimates," about different versions of the NIE that were released. If Miller's account is correct, Libby was "misrepresenting the intelligence" that was contained in the document, she said.

Full MSNBC-Newsweek story.

Submitted by Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com


Spier: No Matter How You Rearrange Those Decks Chairs...

How would you like to be in real trouble and have to call your lawyer: Harriet Miers? Me, I’d call Roy Black, or Barry Scheck, who happens to live in my neighborhood. With Miers doing his lawyering, George Bush needs, in the words of Lou Reed, “to have a busload of faith to get by.” But, he thinks she’s the best lawyer for him. After all, she did argue successfully that Cheney was a Wyoming resident, not a Texas resident in 2000, and thus paved the way for his presidency.

For me, each day this week has been like a trip to an old Howard Johnson’s for a different flavor of ice cream. However, Thomas De Frank, New York Daily News Washington Bureau Chief, certainly made Bush’s week more like an eon drinking bitter coffee in hell. DeFrank's article was not a long one. It simply cites an inside source who said Bush knew Rove was part of the outing of Plame conspiracy in 2003 , and chewed him out for allowing it to be done in such a ham handed way. “Other sources confirmed, however, that Bush was initially furious with Rove in 2003 when his deputy chief of staff conceded he had talked to the press about the Plame leak.” It made no difference to Bush that the outing of a covert intelligence agent was a grave matter of national security; just that it was done sloppily.

Of course, Bush has denied all along that he knew who was involved, and he might have testified to that effect. OY VEY. Did Bush tell a lie under oath? Was he covering Rove’s petoot? These are crimes. As they say…The fish rots form the….

Bill Spier

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AAS: DeLay booked in Harris County - Oct. 20

Congressman gets fingerprints, mug shots in Houston


Thursday, October 20, 2005

U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land, sidestepped the news media Thursday to be booked in Houston during the noon hour, according to his lawyer Dick DeGuerin, below right.

DeGuerinDeGuerin said DeLay, who's to appear in Travis County court on Friday, was treated routinely. He was photographed, fingerprinted and released on $10,000 bond.

"Ronnie Earle has the mug shot he wanted," DeGuerin said.

For two days, Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle and DeGuerin played a cat-and-mouse game over how DeLay would be booked on felony charges of conspiracy and money-laundering. When DeLay was first indicted last month, Earle agreed that a judge could just issue a summons which wouldn't require DeLay to be fingerprinted and photographed. But after DeLay, his legal team and political allies spent the past two weeks criticizing Earle in TV commercials, interviews and court filings, Earle required an arrest warrant on the second indictment returned earlier this month.

"This was absolutely uncalled for," DeGuerin said Thursday. "It was just pure retaliation."

Reporters and other observers had expected DeLay to be booked at the courthouse in Fort Bend County, west of Houston, where he lives.

Earle was not available for comment.  Source:  Austin American Statesman.

Submitted by Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage: www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com


Kennedy -- on being a liberal

Portrait of John KennedyPresident John F. Kennedy, left -- on being a liberal...


I believe in human dignity as the source of national purpose, in human liberty as the source of national action, in the human heart as the source of national compassion, and in the human mind as the source of our invention and our ideas.


It is, I believe, the faith in our fellow citizens as individuals and as people that lies at the heart of the liberal faith.


For liberalism is not so much a party creed or set of fixed platform promises as it is an attitude of mind and heart, a faith in man's ability through the experiences of his reason and judgment to increase for himself and his fellow men the amount of justice and freedom and brotherhood which all human life deserves.


I believe also in the United States of America, in the promise that it contains and has contained throughout our history of producing a society so abundant and creative and so free and responsible that it cannot only fulfill the aspirations of its citizens, but serve equally well as a beacon for all mankind. I do not believe in a superstate. I see no magic in tax dollars which are sent to Washington and then returned. I abhor the waste and incompetence of large-scale federal bureaucracies in this administration as well as in others. I do not favor state compulsion when voluntary individual effort can do the job and do it well.


But I believe in a government which acts, which exercises its full powers and full responsibilities. Government is an art and a precious obligation; and when it has a job to do, I believe it should do it.


And this requires not only great ends but that we propose concrete means of achieving them.


Our responsibility is not discharged by announcement of virtuous ends. Our responsibility is to achieve these objectives with social invention, with political skill, and executive vigor. I believe for these reasons that liberalism is our best and only hope in the world today. For the liberal society is a free society, and it is at the same time and for that reason a strong society. Its strength is drawn from the will of free people committed to great ends and peacefully striving to meet them.


Only liberalism, in short, can repair our national power, restore our national purpose, and liberate our national energies.


What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label "Liberal?" If by "Liberal" they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer's dollar, then the record of this party and its members demonstrate that we are not that kind of "Liberal."


But if by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people -- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties -- someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal," then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal."


President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Submitted by Allen D. Glenn, Abilene, Texas

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
published at: http://demlog.blogspot.com


Spier: James Moore Nails It. Will Our Democracy Survive?

James Moore, co-author of Bush's Brain, uploaded the whole enchilada today in his blog: The Most Important Criminal Case in American History. This is a must read. Moore knows more about Karl Rove than anyone alive and Rove's place in an enormous brewing constitutional crisis.

Since August, I have been shining a light on Michael Ledeen, left, without delving deeply (on Demlog) into his history with the Likud and and the Italian Secret Intelligence Agency (SISMI). I have known Ledeen since our years at Washington Univeristy, and followed his sordid career from his writings on fascism, bagman job for Iran Contra -- and to the present. He is smart, conspiratorial, rabidly anti-arab, and a very close associate of the Italian right. James Moore details this out today, and saves me the effort of writing much more on the subject.

Here are a few paragraphs:

"Fortunately, there are good signs. Fitzgerald has reportedly asked for a copy of the Italian government’s investigation into the break-in of the Niger embassy in Rome and the source of the forged documents. The blatantly fake papers, which purported to show that Saddam Hussein had cut a deal to get yellowcake uranium from Niger, turned up after a December 2001 meeting in Rome involving neo-con Michael Ledeen, Larry Franklin, Harold Rhodes, and Niccolo Pollari, the head of Italy’s intelligence agency SISMI, and Antonio Martino, the Italian defense minister.

"Is Fitzgerald examining the possibility that Ledeen was executing a plan to help his friend Karl Rove build a case for invading Iraq? Ledeen has long ties to Italian intelligence agency operatives and has spanned the globe to bring the world the constant variety of what he calls “creative destruction” to build democracies. He makes the other neo-cons appear passive. He brought the Reagan administration together with the Iranian arms dealer who dragged the country through Iran-Contra and shares with his close friend Karl Rove a personal obsession with Machiavelli. Ledeen, who is almost rabidly anti-Arab, famously told the Washington Post that Karl Rove told him, “Any time you have a good idea, tell me.”

Ledeen is no democrat. His influence is far more sinister. Other familiar names come up in Moore's fantastic article: Franklin, Rhode, Chalabi. If you want to know who set up the phony Niger documents, focus on the the break-in of the Niger Embassy in Rome. What was pilfered? Blank letterhead, of course.

We know that Patrick Fitzgerald may have the future of our nation in his briefcase. Forget the sideshows of Cooper, Miller, Novak. They are just puss oozing from the sore.

Watch the Italian movie.

-Bill Spier

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Slate-Papers: Karl Marks Scooter - Oct. 20

By Eric Umansky - Posted Thursday at 4:01 AM CT

Specter & LeahyThe Los Angeles Times leads with and others front Senators Arlen Specter & Patrick Leahy, right, the ranking Republican and Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, ordering Supreme nominee Harriet Miers to take a do-over on her recently submitted questionnaire. The senators were particularly miffed about the skimpy job Miers did on the questions about conflicts-of-interest as well as constitutional issues. Miers must provide "amplification on many, many of the items," said committee chair Arlen Specter.

Citing ... "a source familiar with Rove's account," [whom the Slate editor thinks is Rove's own Rove leaving grand jurylawyer,] the Washington Post's lead says Karl Rove, left, told the Plame grand jury that it may have been the vice president's chief of Valerie Plame-Wilsonstaff, Scooter Libby, who first told him Valerie Plame (shown, right, in a rare photo) was a CIA agent. Rove reportedly said that the conversation took place a few days before Plame was publicly outed, and reportedly -- now this is, what, thrice-removed -- Libby initially heard about Plame from a reporter. The Wall Street Journal world-wide newsbox and New York SaddamTimes lead with the first day of Saddam's trial, where the former dictator, right, refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the court but eventually took the opportunity to plead not guilty. Then acceding to pleas from defense attorneys for more preparation time, the trial was adjourned until late November. USA Today leads with two federally financed studies confirming that a drug already used to treat some types of advanced breast cancer also seems to be effective against an aggressive type of early breast cancer.

The import of the Rove leak isn't clear. One obvious possibility: Rove's lawyer is trying to save his client's tush. As the WP mentions, the Associated Press had this leak-of-the-day first; both pieces note that Rove has apparently previously testified that he couldn't remember who first told him about Plame. His recollection was apparently jogged after being "shown testimony from Libby."

The WP's Rove piece is more than a simple leak-and-print. It's a helpful primer on the whole affair.

The NYT's John Burns picks up a few glitches yesterday at Saddam's trial, like the fact that the microphones for Saddam, other defendants, and their lawyers "appeared not to function."

As only the NYT devotes a staff piece to, 26 Iraqis, five 5 GIs, and one British soldier were killed in assorted attacks "late Tuesday and Wednesday." Also, a British reporter for the Guardian was kidnapped in Baghdad.

MiersSupreme Court nominee Harriet Miers, left, said she was happy to give the questionnaire another try; she also added that she forgot to mention that her Texas law license was suspended for about a month years ago because of "an administrative oversight," purportedly by her former law firm. Miers has already acknowledged that her D.C. law license was also briefly suspended because she forgot to pay some dues. [D.H.: It is details like this that lead me to believe Miers is being served up as a sacrificial lamb. The Texas Bar Ass'n is notorious for "administratively suspending" lawyers because of clerical oversights and never properly notifying anyone. Such things do not mean the lawyer has any ethical lapses at all.]

The LAT has some serious sniping from senators who had getting-to-know-you sessions with Miers: "Some described her as surprisingly reticent and, in a word used by more than one of them, 'underwhelming.'" After chatting with her a bit, Republican Senator Jeff Sessions offered some of the strongest support seen yet for her. "I might have liked a different type nominee myself, but that's the president's choice," he said. [D.H.: I think she's suffering from comparison with the overwhelming presence of John Roberts in these senators' recent memories.]

Finally, the WP notices another high-quality response from Miers' questionnaire:

In describing one matter on the Dallas City Council, Miers referred to "the proportional representation requirement of the Equal Protection Clause" as it relates to the Voting Rights Act.

"There is no proportional representation requirement in the Equal Protection Clause," said Cass R. Sunstein, a constitutional law professor at the University of Chicago.

[D.H.: This is another cheap shot. City Council members, which is what Miers was in 1989, speak in shorthand in dealing politically with legal issues; they do not speak in constitu tionally-precise legaleze. Reporters who consult with constitutional law professors should provide that difference of perspective, or risk misleading the reader into thinking Miers is a dummy -- which she obviously is not. What about a little fairness here? I don't have a dog in this hunt, but the way she's being treated stinks, let's be honest!]

The NYT and LAT mention footage from an Australian film crew showing GIs in Afghanistan burning the bodies of two Taliban fighters. As the bodies were burning, the soldiers broadcast a taunt to a nearby village, "You allowed your fighters to be laid down facing west and burned. You are too scared to come down and retrieve the bodies. This just proves you are the lady boys we always believed you to be." Islam prohibits cremation. [DemLog blogged a similar story from the Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald earlier this morning.]

PowellThe Financial Times notices that the former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, right, savaged the administration in a speech yesterday. "What I saw was a cabal between the vice-president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made," said Larry Wilkerson. "Now it is paying the consequences of making those decisions in secret, but far more telling to me is America is paying the consequences." Wilkerson said Powell is not happy with his decision to speak out.

The Journal and NYT notice that a Spanish court has issued arrest warrants for three GIs who fired, allegedly indiscriminately, on a hotel in Baghdad and killed a Spanish cameraman during the fall of Baghdad in April 2003. The Pentagon has cleared the three, and there's almost no chance they're going to jail, not the least because the U.S. doesn't extradite its own citizens.

Judith MillerIn a piece about journalists -- including Judith Miller, left -- offering Senate testimony in support of a national shield law, the NYT's Katharine Seelye tries to get Miller to clarify some things, namely the purported security clearance she had in Iraq. Miller said she signed the same kind of non-disclosure forms that all embeds did though with what the Times dubs "some modifications." Miller said she had a deal with the local commander that she would -- again in the NYT's phrasing -- "only discuss her most secret reporting with only the senior-most editors of the Times." Whatever that all means.

Asked if she ever gave any of her sources, including Libby, the impression that she had some sort of security clearance after Iraq, Miller said, "I don't remember if I ever told him I was disembedded. I might not have." She added, "I never misled anybody." Never. [D.H.: And, pray tell, what does "disembedded" mean? It's almost too much for us normal mortals to understand.]

Eric Umansky (www.ericumansky.com) writes "Today's Papers" for Slate. He can be reached at todayspapers@slate.com. Source: Slate Magazine.

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