Public Nuisance

Random commentary and senseless acts of blogging.

The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
-Ronald Reagan

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Thursday, March 22, 2007
One More Thing

Here's a tidbit from the DoJ docs that I should have included in last night's post.

A close reading of the doc dump suggests evidence that there has been interference in prosecutions from DoJ. Section 2-3 includes (pp 4-5) a proposed opening statement for William Moschella, Principal Associate Deputy AG, perhaps in preparation for his congressional testimony of March 06. The first draft (author uncertain but perhaps Kyle Sampson) states, "The Department has not taken any action to influence any public corruption case." The final draft of the same document contains a change requested by Moschella himself: "The department has not asked anyone to resign to influence any public corruption case." (2-4, p 22, emphasis added) So why did DoJ want the original statement to be weakened?
I went out to see Barak Obama on Saturday. I can't say much about his speech - I had to leave shortly after it started. And I can say even less about Obama - I never got close enough to actually see him.

Which leaves nothing to talk about but the crowd, and the crowd was extraordinary. It was the largest political gathering I've been to since the peace marches I attended as a child.

My first choice for 2008 is still Clark, and my second Gore. But I no longer expect Clark to run, and Gore I've never believed was going to run. So it looks like I'll have to find a number 3. Like most in the netroots, Hillary is not a contender for my vote. I've been very hesitant to embrace Obama, mainly because I see his candidacy as a creation of the MSM. Like Edwards - Hillary too, for that matter - his experience is short of what I would like to see in a President. But my big problem with him has been his popularity with the DC media - the same guys who gave us Dubya, lied endlessly about Gore, and have a downright embarassing crush on McCain, have somehow decided that Obama is acceptable, even if he is a Democrat. And a gang of idiots who hate us, our party, our values, and the people we represent, don't strike me as the folks who I want to entrust with the choice of our next nominee.

But after Saturday, I have to change my mind. To draw a crowd like that 9 months before New Hampshire is extraordinary. And Obama has been pulling crowds like it all over the country. However deep my distrust of the MSM, I can't dispute that there's something real in his support which goes far beyond them. The man himself is certainly impressive. And I'm still looking for a real progressive who can win against Hillary and win again in November. As things stand now, it looks like Obama's that man.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Dump Run

I've been through about 200 pages of the celebrated Document Dump of 2007. That's a larger subset of the total dump than it seems, due to the frequent repetitions. Some observations:

The sequence should be stated more plainly: even the outstanding Josh Marshall misses some points and gets one just wrong. The plan to fire the attorneys was set out in a memo from Elston to McNulty on November 7 (not 15, as Josh incorrectly said). At that point the plan was to make the calls very soon - the same week. Note that the date was election day - at the time the plans were drawn up, it wasn't clear that the new Senate would be Democratic. And the original plans don't envision using the Patriot Act - they intended to "have president make nominations and work to secure confirmation". (doc set 2-1, pp 10 - 11) The same plan, with the dates pushed out a week, is discussed between Meirs and Sampson on 11/15. This message, which also discusses whether Bush should be briefed on the plan, looks to be the last one before an 18 day gap in which only two messages, of limited relevance, have been found in the dump.

It is clear that during the gap, the plan is under discussion in the White House. In the last exchange before the gap, Sampson say "We'll stand by for a green light from you." In the first after, William Kelley says that "WH leg[al], political, and communications have signed off". (ibid, pp 14, 18)

Worth noting: Kelley is the Deputy Assistant to the President and was the recipient of Sampson's infamous email complaining about "the real problem we have right now with Carol Lam". Also interesting is that that original email refers specifically to 11/18/06, the date that Lam's original four year appointment expired, and right in line with the time Lam would have left if the original plan to do the firings on November 8th - 9th had been carried out.

Some other points of interest here: the plan of 11/7 and 11/15 lists 6 prosecutors to be dropped. Not listed: Ryan (SF) and Cummins (AR). Ryan has been added to the list in the post-gap messages. But Cummins isn't discussed in any of these plans.

The plans also specify that, along with the firing calls, calls are to go out the Republican Senators from the Attorneys' states asking for names of replacements. (In states represented by Democrats, the calls are to go to "Bush political leaders".) One Republican Senator is always left off the list, which appears in multiple places: McCain.

Although there is subsequent discussion of alleged performance shortcoming of the fired USAs, that doesn't seem to be at all a factor in the actual decision. DAG McNulty says of Bogden (NV), "I'll admit have not looked at his district's performance". (ibid p. 23)

In the mass of material we do have, it should be noted what we still don't. Nothing in the docs that I have read or seen discussed by others explains how the original list of targets was reached, or how Ryan and Cummins were added. (There's little doubt, although no proof, that the latter was Rove's initiative.) It isn't at all clear who gave the final go-ahead. Not coincidentally, we have no discussion from the White House, which seems to be where the decisions were made.

Update: We now know more about how Ryan made the list. As usual, this is too rich to make up: the attorney who was added at the last minute apparently was a Bush loyalist who DoJ wanted to protect but had to drop because his incompetence was about to be publicized.