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FBI Believes Cheney Lied About Outing Valerie Plame

Saturday, December 27, 2008

By Bob Fertik

Murray Waas has the scoop on an FBI report that suggests the FBI believes Cheney lied to them:
Vice President Dick Cheney, according to a still-highly confidential FBI report, admitted to federal investigators that he rewrote talking points for the press in July 2003 that made it much more likely that the role of then-covert CIA-officer Valerie Plame in sending her husband on a CIA-sponsored mission to Africa would come to light.

Cheney conceded during his interview with federal investigators that in drawing attention to Plame’s role in arranging her husband’s Africa trip reporters might also unmask her role as CIA officer.

Cheney denied to the investigators, however, that he had done anything on purpose that would lead to the outing of Plame as a covert CIA operative. But the investigators came away from their interview with Cheney believing that he had not given them a plausible explanation as to how he could focus attention on Plame’s role in arranging her husband’s trip without her CIA status also possibly publicly exposed. At the time, Plame was a covert CIA officer involved in preventing Iran from obtaining weapons of mass destruction, and Cheney’s office played a central role in exposing her and nullifying much of her work.
As always, Marcy Wheeler brilliantly analyzes the significance of Waas' scoop.
Cheney's new talking points raised a question the answer to which was--Cheney believed--"Valerie Plame, Joe Wilson's CIA spook wife." Which, as Cheney apparently admitted to the FBI, might raise the chances that Plame would be outed--as happened like a charm with Matt Cooper and John Dickerson. Dickerson, recall, was instructed to look into who sent Wilson, and Cooper answered that question for Dickerson with help from Rove: Wilson's wife.

Now, Murray points out that Cheney's admission--certainly from the perspective of June 2004, when Cheney was interviewed--would make it more likely that Cheney had a role in outing Plame. Frankly, when you put Judy's testimony together with Libby's notes and Addington's testimony, that case has already been proved, and for much earlier in the week than Murray's discussing (since it proves that, on Cheney's order, Libby was asking Addington about both Plame and Wilson in the preparation to talk to Judy). But, people are thick, so hopefully Murray's reporting--apparently direct from Cheney's FBI interview--will convince some people to actually look at the available evidence.
Marcy promises more tomorrow - a Fitzmas present for all Plamophiles!


Holiday Address from President-Elect Obama

Remarks of President-Elect Barack Obama
Holiday Radio Address
December 27, 2008

Good morning. This week, Americans are gathering with family and friends across the country to celebrate the blessings of Christmas and the holiday season.

As we celebrate this joyous time of year, our thoughts turn to the brave men and women who serve our country far from home. Their extraordinary and selfless sacrifice is an inspiration to us all, and part of the unbroken line of heroism that has made our freedom and prosperity possible for over two centuries.

Many troops are serving their second, third, or fourth tour of duty. And we are reminded that they are more than dedicated Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guard – they are devoted fathers and mothers; husbands and wives; sons and daughters; and sisters and brothers.

This holiday season, their families celebrate with a joy that is muted knowing that a loved one is absent, and sometimes in danger. In towns and cities across America, there is an empty seat at the dinner table; in distant bases and on ships at sea, our servicemen and women can only wonder at the look on their child’s face as they open a gift back home.

Our troops and military families have won the respect and gratitude of their broader American family. Michelle and I have them in our prayers this Christmas, and we must all continue to offer them our full support in the weeks and months to come. .

These are also tough times for many Americans struggling in our sluggish economy. As we count the higher blessings of faith and family, we know that millions of Americans don’t have a job. Many more are struggling to pay the bills or stay in their homes. From students to seniors, the future seems uncertain.

That is why this season of giving should also be a time to renew a sense of common purpose and shared citizenship. Now, more than ever, we must rededicate ourselves to the notion that we share a common destiny as Americans – that I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper. Now, we must all do our part to serve one another; to seek new ideas and new innovation; and to start a new chapter for our great country.

That is the spirit that will guide my Administration in the New Year. If the American people come together and put their shoulder to the wheel of history, then I know that we can put our people back to work and point our country in a new direction. That is how we will see ourselves through this time of crisis, and reach the promise of a brighter day.

After all, that is what Americans have always done.

232 years ago, when America was newly born as a nation, George Washington and his Army faced impossible odds as they struggled to free themselves from the grip of an empire.

It was Christmas Day—December 25th, 1776 – that they fought through ice and cold to make an improbable crossing of the Delaware River. They caught the enemy off guard, won victories in Trenton and Princeton, and gave new momentum to a beleaguered Army and new hope to the cause of Independence.

Many ages have passed since that first American Christmas. We have crossed many rivers as a people. But the lessons that have carried us through are the same lessons that we celebrate every Christmas season—the same lessons that guide us to this very day: that hope endures, and that a new birth of peace is always possible.


Europe's rail system moving full steam ahead

By Ed Perkins

High-speed rail is moving ahead at high speed in Europe. Railroads there keep adding new high-speed lines and increasing service, while here in the United States, we keep fretting about the need for better transportation but do little about it. If you're heading for Europe next year, you can try out several new lines, and additional lines will open by summer.

Europe's latest opening is in Italy: a new dedicated high-speed line from Milan to Bologna. According to the Italian Railways' press release, nonstop trains can now make the Milan-Rome trip in 3 1/2 hours, although current schedules show only trains that stop in Bologna and Florence, taking three hours, 55 minutes. Still, that's pretty good time, and I assume some nonstops will run by summer. The new segment leaves only a small gap between Bologna and Florence that, once filled, will provide high-speed tracks from Milan to Naples, about 530 miles. That final gap will close either next year or in 2010.

Italy isn't the only European country to have opened new lines recently. The new line from Madrid to Segovia and Valladolid opened in Spain, including a new 17-mile tunnel that allows the Spanish trains to cut travel time to Segovia by more than half. Also recently completed: the full line between Madrid and Barcelona.

Farther north, the high-speed line from Brussels to Amsterdam is still under construction, although portions are in use. It may be fully open in time for a summer trip. The French, who opened the new Paris-Strasbourg line a year ago, have nothing else opening next year, but new lines connecting to Spain at Perpignan will probably open up sometime next year....(Click for remainder).


Bill Kristol's Year Up at 'NYT': Will He Get Axed?

By Greg Mitchell
Editor & Publisher

NEW YORK Exactly one year ago this weekend the Huffington Post broke the news that, as Jim Morrison might have put it, the Kristol Ship was about to sail at The New York Times. Much uproar ensued across the blogosphere. Some pointed out Kristol's call for the paper to be prosecuted, on Fox News in 2006, after its big banking records scoop: "I think it is an open question whether the Times itself should be prosecuted for this totally gratuitous revealing of an ongoing secret classified program that is part of the war on terror."

A day after the Huffington Post reported it, the Times announced that it had indeed hired the conservative pundit as a new weekly op-ed columnist, on a one-year contract. 

Liberal bloggers really reacted now and Kristol said, in an interview with, it gave him some pleasure to see their "heads explode." Kristol, of course, was perhaps the most influential pundit of all in promoting the U.S. invasion of Iraq and has strongly defended the move ever since. 

Times' editorial page editor Andy Rosenthal defended the move. Rosenthal told shortly after the official announcement Saturday that he failed to understand "this weird fear of opposing views....We have views on our op-ed page that are as hawkish or more so than Bill.... 

"The idea that The New York Times is giving voice to a guy who is a serious, respected conservative intellectual -- and somehow that's a bad thing," Rosenthal added. "How intolerant is that?" 

The paper, however, noted in its own announcement: "In a 2003 column on the turmoil within The Times that led to the downfall of the top two editors, he wrote that it was not 'a first-rate newspaper of record,' adding, 'The Times is irredeemable.'"

Fun soon followed when, on January 7, eight paragraphs into his new stint as op-ed columnist, Kristol already made an embarrassing error.(Click for remainder).


GOP Group In Panic Over Possible Franken Win

By Sam Stein
The Huffington Post

The possible, perhaps, impending victory of Al Franken to the Senate has sent GOP officials into a paranoid tizzy.

In an "urgent message" to supporters, the Republican National Lawyer Association accuses Franken and his "liberal allies" of "working feverishingly [sic] to steal the Minnesota Senate election."

"As you may know, the precinct recount phase of the Minnesota Senate race was won by Sen. Norm Coleman on Election Day," reads the petition, signed by the group's executive director, Michael Thielen. "But Al Franken still won't concede. Instead, Franken raised millions of dollars from liberals in New York and Hollywood to fight a "legal" battle to undo the will of the voters. He even got the Minnesota Supreme Court to order canvassing boards to consider about 1600 previously rejected and questionable ballots. Now, Republican Norm Coleman has until December 31st to fight against Franken's liberal legal team to keep his Senate seat. RNLA and Norm Coleman are fighting for every vote -- literally!"

From there, the RNLA asks readers to donate money so that it can uphold the sanctity of the Minnesota election and prevent Franken from "stealing" the Senate seat.

For those following the recount closely, the letter is filled with a variety of obvious misinterpretations and inaccuracies. For instance, the RNLA gives the impression that during the canvassing process, officials "found errors favoring Franken so incredibly statistically improbable that statisticians are questioning the officials in these counties." It's not clear which statisticians the RNLA is referring to. But a study done by a Dartmouth professor actually predicted the very gains made by Franken....(Click for remainder).


A New New Deal?

By Robert L. Borosage & Eric Lotke
The Nation

When Richard Nixon announced that we are all Keynesians now, stagflation was confounding liberal economists, and conservatives were about to take over the commanding heights. Similarly, when Bill Clinton announced that "the era of big government is over," economic conservatism was about to take us off the cliff. Now "the era of big government is over" is over.

Garry Wills says Americans think of government only as a "necessary evil," a last resort. Well, folks, all the other resorts are boarded up. In November, America shed more than 500,000 jobs, the worst single-month record in thirty-four years. We lost more than 2 million over the course of 2008--and the crash is accelerating across the globe.

At the same time, America is falling apart, literally. We've witnessed the ghastly spectaculars: failure of the levees in New Orleans, collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis, bursting of the steam pipe that shut down ten square blocks of Manhattan. But these tragic catastrophes are a small part of the growing costs of a conservative-era failure to invest in our future.

Conservative scorn for government has produced a crippling public-investment deficit. America's core infrastructure--roads, bridges, sewers, airports, trains, mass transit--is overcrowded, outdated and crumbling. The evidence, assembled by Eric Lotke in The Investment Deficit in America, issued by the Campaign for America's Future, is stark. Poor road conditions cost Americans billions in repairs and countless hours in delay. Though China opens a new subway system every year, and Europeans travel from Paris to Frankfurt on high-speed rail, American railroads don't have the funds needed even to maintain their outmoded infrastructure. Cities are suffering an epidemic of broken pipes and sinkholes, with the Environmental Protection Agency estimating more than 40,000 discharges of raw sewage into our drinking water, streams and homes each year from collapsing and overwhelmed sewage systems. The Education Department found that one-third of instruction."...(Click for remainder).


Good God, Bad God

By Richard Kim
The Nation

Barack Obama's choice of evangelical pastor Rick Warren to give the invocation at the inauguration has provoked outrage from progressives, who have condemned it as a slap at his base and at gay and lesbian supporters in particular. Wasn't Obama's election a repudiation of the religious right? Couldn't he have picked a more progressive figure--like civil rights leader Joseph Lowery, who supports same-sex marriage and is giving the closing benediction? Why won't Democrats behave like Republicans, who reward their religious base with state spoils both symbolic and monetary?

I understand the left's sense of betrayal, but this reaction to Obama's choice is off the mark. It's a sign of how much we have conceded to the religious right that almost nobody asked why there should be an invocation at all. Sure, it's an argument they're unlikely to win, in part because Obama is a synergistically religious politician who enthusiastically speaks the language of faith and government (though for many years there was no invocation at the inauguration, and the famously devout John Quincy Adams refused to be sworn in on the Bible because he thought it should be reserved for worship). But it's just as unlikely that Obama will be shamed into rescinding Warren's invitation. So as long as the left is on the side of losing arguments, why not make the case for secularism, the separation of church and state and the purity of the constitutional oath? Why accept the Rovian premise that elections are referendums on religion and then squabble over which God ("a more inclusive God," say gay critics) was most recently legitimated by the vote?

In this culture war calculus, Obama's decision to split the difference--Warren at the top, Lowery at the close--makes perfect sense. After all, Warren and Obama are not as unlike as progressives would like to believe. They disagree about abortion, but both want to expand faith-based initiatives for social services. Indeed, Warren has earned accolades from many Democrats (including Obama) as a new breed of evangelical interested in poverty reduction and climate change. They cheered as he and his wife, Kay, became major players in the AIDS world even though Warren's programs, some funded by Bush's global AIDS plan, advocated abstinence-only education and Christian conversion. Obama and the Democrats may now limit cases of evangelizing on the federal dime and inject science into the mix, but the door to proselytizing and privatization remains wide open....(Click for remainder).



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