Saturday, July 23, 2005

Ex-CIA Officers Rip Bush Over Rove Leak

ABC News
Ex-CIA Officers Rip Bush Over Rove Leak
Former Intelligence Officers Criticize Bush for Not Disciplining Karl Rove Over CIA Leak
The Associated Press

Jul. 22, 2005 - Former U.S. intelligence officers criticized President Bush on Friday for not disciplining Karl Rove in connection with the leak of the name of a CIA officer, saying Bush's lack of action has jeopardized national security.

In a hearing held by Senate and House Democrats examining the implications of exposing Valerie Plame's identity, the former intelligence officers said Bush's silence has hampered efforts to recruit informants to help the United States fight the war on terror. Federal law forbids government officials from revealing the identity of an undercover intelligence officer.

"I wouldn't be here this morning if President Bush had done the one thing required of him as commander in chief protect and defend the Constitution," said Larry Johnson, a former CIA analyst. "The minute that Valerie Plame's identity was outed, he should have delivered a strict and strong message to his employees."

Rove, Bush's deputy chief of staff, told Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper in a 2003 phone call that former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife worked for the CIA on weapons of mass destruction issues, according to an account by Cooper in the magazine. Rove has not disputed that he told Cooper that Wilson's wife worked for the agency, but has said through his lawyer that he did not mention her by name.

In July 2003, Robert Novak, citing unnamed administration officials, identified Plame by name in his syndicated column and wrote that she worked for the CIA. The column has led to a federal criminal investigation into who leaked Plame's undercover identity. New York Times reporter Judith Miller who never wrote a story about Plame has been jailed for refusing to testify.

Bush said last week, "I think it's best that people wait until the investigation is complete before you jump to conclusions. And I will do so, as well."

Dana Perino, a White House spokesman, said Friday that the administration would have no comment on the investigation while it was continuing.

Patrick Lang, a retired Army colonel and defense intelligence officer, said Bush's silence sends a bad signal to foreigners who might be thinking of cooperating with the U.S. on intelligence matters.

"This says to them that if you decide to cooperate, someone will give you up, so you don't do it," Lang said. "They are not going to trust you in any way."

Johnson, who said he is a registered Republican, said he wished a GOP lawmaker would have the courage to stand up and "call the ugly dog the ugly dog."

"Where are these men and women with any integrity to speak out against this?" Johnson asked. "I expect better behavior out of Republicans."

On the Net:



Conflicting Stories
Conflicting Stories

By Dan Froomkin
Special to

New reports today indicate that special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald is zeroing in on conflicting stories officials and reporters have provided his grand jury, lending credence to the theory that he may be considering obstruction of justice or perjury charges against top White House officials.

Bloomberg and the New York Times move the ball forward today, courtesy of what appear to be a growing number of leakers.

And here, culled from those and other reports, are what would seem to be some of the harder-to-reconcile contradictions in the case, which started out as an investigation into who leaked a CIA agent's identity -- but which now could be turning into another testament to the Washington maxim that the cover-up is always worse than the crime.

· White House chief political strategist Karl Rove reportedly told the grand jury that he first learned of Valerie Plame's identity from columnist Robert Novak -- but Novak's version of the story is that Rove already knew about her when the two spoke.

· Rove didn't mention his conversation with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper to investigators at first and then said it was primarily about welfare reform. But Cooper has testified that the topic of welfare reform didn't came up.

· Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby apparently told prosecutors he first heard about Plame from NBC's Tim Russert, but Russert has testified that he neither offered nor received information about Plame in his conversation with Libby.

· And former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer apparently told prosecutors that he never saw a classified State Department memo that disclosed Plame's identity, but another former official reportedly saw him perusing it on Air Force One.

Here's the Latest

Richard Keil writes for Bloomberg news service: "Two top White House aides have given accounts to a special prosecutor about how reporters first told them the identity of a CIA agent that are at odds with what the reporters have said, according to people familiar with the case.

"Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, told special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that he first learned from NBC News reporter Tim Russert of the identity of Central Intelligence Agency operative Valerie Plame, the wife of former ambassador and Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson, one person said. Russert has testified before a federal grand jury that he didn't tell Libby of Plame's identity, the person said.

"White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove told Fitzgerald that he first learned the identity of the CIA agent from syndicated columnist Robert Novak, according a person familiar with the matter. Novak, who was first to report Plame's name and connection to Wilson, has given a somewhat different version to the special prosecutor, the person said. . . .

"There also is a discrepancy between accounts given by Rove and Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper. The White House aide mentioned Wilson's wife -- though not by name -- in a July 11, 2003, conversation with Cooper, the reporter said. Rove, 55, says that Cooper called him to talk about welfare reform and the Wilson connection was mentioned later, in passing.

"Cooper wrote in Time magazine last week that he told the grand jury he never discussed welfare reform with Rove in that call."

David Johnston writes in the New York Times about how Rove and Libby, at the time of the leaks, were "working closely together on a related underlying issue: whether President Bush was correct in suggesting earlier that year that Iraq had been trying to acquire nuclear materials from Africa."

Johnston, attributing the information to "people who have been briefed on the case," describes how Rove and Libby were deeply involved, for instance, in drafting a key statement by CIA director George J. Tenet.

The leakers of this new tidbit, Johnston writes, believe it shows that Rove and Libby "were not involved in an orchestrated scheme to discredit Mr. Wilson or disclose the undercover status of his wife" -- but that, in essence, the disclosure of her identity was just collateral damage in the orchestrated scheme to defend against charges that the administration had exaggerated the nuclear threat posed by Iraq.

That might tend to exculpate them from a criminal leaking charge. But it demonstrates, as Johnston writes, "the unusual degree" to which political and national security operations were intertwined.

And Johnston adds this new report to the mix, regarding the classified State Department memo and the former press secretary: "Mr. Fleischer told the grand jury that he never saw the document, a person familiar with the testimony said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the prosecutor's admonitions about not disclosing what is said to the grand jury."

But wait! Richard Keil and William Roberts wrote for Bloomberg on Monday: "On the flight to Africa, Fleischer was seen perusing the State Department memo on Wilson and his wife, according to a former administration official who was also on the trip."

Here is a New York Times timeline of the case.
Keeping the Story Alive

Scott Shepard writes for Cox News Service: "Congressional Democrats will conduct an unofficial hearing today that may return public attention to White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove and any role he had in disclosing the identity of a covert intelligence officer whose husband criticized pre-war intelligence President Bush used to justify the war in Iraq. . . .

"Democrats contend they have to hold their own unofficial hearing because the Republican leadership of the House and Senate refuses to conduct an official inquiry into whether the Bush White House leaked information about Plame in an attempt to discredit her husband."

John Harwood (subscription required) writes in the Wall Street Journal that Democratic strategists have concluded that Bush's nomination of John G. Roberts Jr. to the Supreme Court "may be unstoppable, and look to maintain earlier momentum from CIA leak case and other issues. . . .

" 'Our strategy now is to essentially let Roberts go . . . then get back on Rove, Social Security and the Iraq war,' says a senior Congressional aide."

Harwood adds: "Democrats plan to grill Bush confidant Karen Hughes about leak-case in her confirmation hearing for State Department public diplomacy post."
Karen Hughes?

Karen Hughes? Isn't she still in Texas?

No, she's finally back in Washington today for a confirmation hearing on her nomination to be undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs at the State Department.

And as Johnston explains in the New York Times, as part of the confirmation process, Hughes was forced to divulge to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that she was interviewed by the special prosecutor.

Al Kamen notes in today's Washington Post that "in her acclaimed book 'Ten Minutes from Normal,' the former White House counselor opines about the investigation into the leak on Valerie Plame. She suspects columnist Robert D. Novak's sources may have been in one of the agencies, not the White House.

" 'But regardless of the source, the leak compromised the confidential identity of a longtime public servant, which was wrong, and unfair to her and those who worked with her. Whoever did it should come forward and not hide behind journalistic ethics for his or her self-protection.' "
John Bolton?

And Johnston also includes this tantalizing sentence in his New York Times story today: "Democrats who have been eager to focus attention on the case have urged reporters to look into the role of several other administration officials, including John R. Bolton, who was then under secretary of state for arms control and international security and has since been nominated by Mr. Bush to be ambassador to the United Nations."
The Brits

Leave it to the Brits to seek the big picture.

Julian Borger profiles Rove in the Guardian: "There has never been a partnership like it in US political history -- so close and continuing so seamlessly from campaign trail to government. Never has a consultant, a hired mechanic in the political engineroom, risen so high.

"The official title, deputy White House chief of staff, does not do him justice. At the age of 54 and without a college degree, Rove is the second or third most powerful man in the US (arguably therefore the world) depending on where you place Dick Cheney. . . .

"Yet now, at the zenith of his career, Rove seems at his most vulnerable. A Washington scandal he tried to brush off two years ago has broken the surface again and threatens to pull him under."

Rupert Cornwell writes in the Independent: "Ah, for a scandal to while away the sticky days of high summer in the capital of the free world. This one has the lot. Featured ingredients include a glamorous CIA agent, a jailed journalist and a scandal-starved Washington press in hot pursuit of dastardly White House shenanigans. At the centre of the storm is Karl Rove, George Bush's closest adviser, architect of his election triumphs and attributed with satanic political powers by reporters and frustrated Democrats alike."

Cornwell ultimately concludes: "This tacky, third-rate leak that is starting to scar the President's second term springs from the great deception executed in his first term, luring the US into a war that 60 per cent of Americans now believe was misconceived.

"That is the true scandal, which has yet to be properly explained."
Yesterday's Grilling

Here's the text of yesterday's briefing by press secretary Scott McClellan. After a bit of chatter about the London bombings, Hearst columnist Helen Thomas started things off with a bang:

Thomas: "Why does Karl Rove still have security clearance and access to classified documents when he has been revealed as a leaker of a secret agent, according to Time magazine's correspondent?"

McClellan: "Well, there is an investigation that continues, and I think the President has made it clear that we're not going to prejudge the outcome of that investigation."

Thomas: "You already have the truth."

McClellan: "We're not going to prejudge the outcome of that investigation through --

Thomas: "Does he have access to security documents?"

McClellan: " -- through media reports. And these questions came up over the last week -- "

Thomas: "Did he leak the name of a CIA agent?"

McClellan: "As I was trying to tell you, these questions have been answered."

Thomas: "No, they haven't."

David Gregory, NBC News: "Let me ask -- "

McClellan: "Go ahead, David."

Gregory: "And they most certainly haven't. I think Helen is right, and the people watching us know that. And related to that, there are now --"

McClellan: "Let me correct the record. We've said for quite some time that this was an ongoing investigation, and that we weren't going to comment on it, so let me just correct the record."

Gregory: "If you want to make the record clear, then you also did make comments when a criminal investigation was underway, you saw fit to provide Karl Rove with a blanket statement of absolution. And that turned out to be no longer accurate --."

After a while, McClellan had this to say about the whole line of questioning: "I thank you for wanting to proceed ahead with the investigation from this room, but I think that the appropriate place for that to happen is through those who are overseeing the investigation. The President directed us to cooperate fully, and that's exactly what we have been doing and continue to do."
The Roberts Nomination

David D. Kirkpatrick writes in the New York Times: "For at least a year before the nomination of Judge John G. Roberts to the Supreme Court, the White House was working behind the scenes to shore up support for him among its social conservative allies, quietly reassuring them that he was a good bet for their side in cases about abortion, same-sex marriage and public support for religion.

"When the White House began testing the name of Judge Roberts on a short list of potential nominees, many social conservatives were skeptical. . . .

"But with a series of personal testimonials about Judge Roberts, his legal work, his Roman Catholic faith, and his wife's public opposition to abortion, two well-connected Christian conservative lawyers -- Leonard Leo, chairman of Catholic outreach for the Republican Party, and Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of an evangelical Protestant legal center founded by Pat Robertson -- gradually won over most social conservatives to nearly unanimous support, even convincing them that the lack of a paper trail was an asset that made Judge Roberts harder to attack.

"Both had been tapped by the White House to build the coalition for judicial confirmation battles."

Gary Fineout and Marc Caputo write in the Miami Herald: "As U.S. Supreme Court nominee John Roberts is scrutinized for everything from his judicial rulings to his abortion views, his role during one of the most memorable times in modern political history remains obscured by imperfect memories and White House-imposed secrecy.

"Roberts was called to the state capital by Gov. Jeb Bush's office during the 2000 presidential election to advise the governor on his role in certifying the disputed results, which ultimately put Bush's brother in the White House."
Veto Threat

Vicki Allen writes for Reuters: "The White House on Thursday threatened to veto a massive Senate bill for $442 billion in next year's defense programs if it moves to regulate the Pentagon's treatment of detainees or sets up a commission to investigate operations at Guantanamo Bay prison and elsewhere. . . .

"Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, who endured torture as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, said after meeting at the Capitol with Vice President Dick Cheney that he still intended to offer amendments next week 'on the standard of treatment of prisoners.' "

McCain is among at least three Republicans working on amendments "intended to prevent further abuses in the wake of the scandal over sexual abuse and mistreatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison and harsh, degrading interrogations at Guantanamo," Allen writes.
Anybody Listening?

Bush gave a speech at the Organization of American States yesterday. Here's the text . It was mostly about CAFTA.

But the wire services barely covered it. CNN cut away from their London reporting when Bush started speaking, but after hearing Bush say "There's nothing more beautiful than freedom," cut right back to the news.

And unless I missed it, there was not one word about his speech in this morning's Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times or Wall Street Journal.
Today's Calendar

Bush is off to Atlanta today. He is chatting about Medicare at a senior center and then participating "in a conversation on Senior Security," at the Atlanta Civic Center.

The Associated Press notes that tickets to the civic center event were given out by Georgia congressmen and a few chambers of commerce.

Bush is off to Camp David later tonight, and has a light to nonexistent public schedule for next week.
Fund-Raising Watch

Peter Whoriskey and John Wagner write in The Washington Post: "The first couple stepped out separately yesterday evening for destinations in the Washington suburbs: President Bush set off for a 'very intimate dinner' at a McLean estate overlooking the Potomac River; first lady Laura Bush headed for a North Bethesda hotel. . . .

"Their appearances, essentially an hour or so of face time, raised roughly $2.3 million for Republican leaders in Maryland and Virginia. . . .

"The invitation to Dwight and Martha Schar's luxurious home by the Potomac River in McLean beckoned with the promise of proximity to power: a 'very intimate dinner,' it proposed, with 'our very special guest President George W. Bush.' "
Tableau Watch

Fashion writer Robin Givhan writes in The Washington Post: "It has been a long time since so much syrupy nostalgia has been in evidence at the White House. But Tuesday night, when President Bush announced his choice for the next associate justice of the Supreme Court, it was hard not to marvel at the 1950s-style tableau vivant that was John Roberts and his family."
Exercise Watch

As I noted yesterday, Elisabeth Bumiller had a story in the New York Times in which she wrote: "When President Bush sat down in the White House residence last Thursday to interview a potential Supreme Court nominee, Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, he asked him about the hardest decision he had ever made -- and also how much he exercised.

" 'Well, I told him I ran three and a half miles a day,' Judge Wilkinson recalled in a telephone interview on Wednesday. 'And I said my doctor recommends a lot of cross-training, but I said I didn't want to do the elliptical and the bike and the treadmill.' The president, Judge Wilkinson said, 'took umbrage at that,' and told his potential nominee that he should do the cross-training his doctor suggested."

Blogger Brendan Nyhan yesterday mocked what he calls "affirmative action for the fit" in the Bush White House.

And Jonathan Chait writes in a Los Angeles Times opinion column this morning: "Bush has an obsession with exercise that borders on the creepy. . . .

"Bush's insistence that the entire populace follow his example, and that his staff join him on a Long March -- er, Long Run -- carries about it the faint whiff of a cult of personality. It also shows how out of touch he is. It's nice for Bush that he can take an hour or two out of every day to run, bike or pump iron. Unfortunately, most of us have more demanding jobs than he does."
Late Night Humor

Paul Brownfield writes in the Los Angeles Times: "Two seemingly unrelated things have happened lately on 'The Daily Show With Jon Stewart': There's a new set, and the show has gotten great play out of the Karl Rove CIA leak scandal/not a scandal. . . .

" 'The Daily Show,' which one night called the story 'Rove Actually,' " is "feasting off of it, mixing the story's convoluted and coded elements with easy pop culture references."

Brownfield calls special attention to this already legendary segment from last week, in which Stewart showed one of McClellan's recent grillings, and announced, sotto voce: "We've secretly replaced the White House press corps with actual reporters."


Former agents criticize Bush over CIA leak


Former agents criticize Bush over CIA leak

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush's failure to take action against a top aide involved in the outing of a covert CIA operative sends "the wrong message" overseas, former U.S. intelligence officials said on Friday.

At a hearing sponsored by Democrats, the retired agents said U.S. intelligence gathering had been damaged by the leak of Valerie Plame's name two years ago after her husband, former diplomat Joseph Wilson, criticized the White House's justification for going to war in Iraq.

Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper told a federal grand jury that presidential adviser Karl Rove told him that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA, but did not disclose her name.

Cooper has also said he discussed the Wilsons with Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff.

"What has suffered irreversible damage is the credibility of our case officers when they try to convince an overseas contact that their safety is of primary importance to us," Jim Marcinkowski, a former CIA case officer, said.

He also criticized Republican efforts to minimize the damage caused by the leak.

"Each time the political machine made up of prime-time patriots and partisan ninnies display their ignorance by deriding Valerie Plame as a mere paper pusher or belittling the varying degrees of cover used to protect our officers or continuing to play partisan politics with our national security, it's a disservice to this country," he added.

Bush vowed this week to fire anyone found to have acted illegally in the controversy, backing away from a broader pledge to dismiss anyone found to have leaked information in the case.


Marcinkowski said the criminal standard was too high and that Bush should take action against those involved.

"Inaction itself sends the message -- the wrong message," he said.

As controversy over the matter heated up in recent weeks, the White House has refused to answer questions about Rove, who is credited with being the architect of the president's election victories.

So far, the only person to suffer legal sanction in the case is New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who has been jailed for refusing to testify about her sources.

Congressional Republicans have rushed to defend Rove and criticize Wilson, who took a CIA-funded trip in 2002 to investigate a charge that Iraq tried to buy nuclear materials in Africa, and later accused the Bush administration of exaggerating the Iraqi weapons threat. They said Rove is a "whistleblower" because Wilson told lies about the trip and he was trying to set the Time reporter straight.

Larry Johnson, a former CIA analyst who said he was a registered Republican, spoke harshly of the criticisms of Wilson and efforts to minimize his wife's job at the CIA.

"This is wrong. This should stop. And it could stop in a heartbeat if the president would simply put a stop to it -- he hasn't," Johnson said. "That speaks volumes."

White House officials have sought to put the controversy behind them pending the outcome of a federal investigation.

But the matter continues to dog the administration, with key Bush aide Karen Hughes facing questions from reporters on Friday after testifying on Capitol Hill.

"There's an ongoing investigation," she said.


Rove: Not Entirely Forgotten
Rove: Not Entirely Forgotten

By Dan Froomkin
Special to

Wondering if -- with all the excitement over President Bush's brilliantly scripted Supreme Court nomination -- the press was going to forget about Karl Rove and the White House's role in the leak of a CIA agent's identity?

No worries.

Walter Pincus and Jim VandeHei roar into the lead spot of The Washington Post's front page this morning (Thursday) with this development: "A classified State Department memorandum central to a federal leak investigation contained information about CIA officer Valerie Plame in a paragraph marked '(S)' for secret, a clear indication that any Bush administration official who read it should have been aware the information was classified, according to current and former government officials. . . .

"Prosecutors attempting to determine whether senior government officials knowingly leaked Plame's identity as a covert CIA operative to the media are investigating whether White House officials gained access to information about her from the memo, according to two sources familiar with the investigation.

"The memo may be important to answering three central questions in the Plame case: Who in the Bush administration knew about Plame's CIA role? Did they know the agency was trying to protect her identity? And, who leaked it to the media?

"The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that the memo made it clear that information about Wilson's wife was sensitive and should not be shared. Yesterday, sources provided greater detail on the memo to The Post."

(Much more - click the link)

The Meaning of the Play

The Post's placement of this story was not lost on media observers.

Tim Grieve writes in Salon that "maybe the Post's editors really think this morning's Plame piece is worthy of front-page attention. But maybe this is what the White House can expect from some journalists who have finally grown tired of getting jerked around."

Greg Mitchell writes in Editor and Publisher: "It was almost as if the Washington Post was saying, 'So there.' "

Liberal Daily Kos blogger Markos Moulitsas writes: "Well, Roberts bought Rove all of what, 24 hours? I hope he got some sleep in, because he's got no reprieve."

The Story That Wouldn't Go Away

Washington Post White House correspondent Michael Fletcher was asked in a Live Online chat yesterday if the nomination of John G. Roberts Jr. would push the leak story aside: "I think the nomination will push Rove out of the news only for short period of time," Fletcher replied.

"The Rove story is too important to stay out off the front page for long. Not only does it reveal how the White House sometimes operates, but it shows how sensitive the administration was to any arguments that undercut its rationale for war. The court obviously is important, perhaps almost as important as a presidential election. But developments in the Rove case will surely be back in the news."

MSNBC's Keith Olbermann blogged yesterday: "Who knows if President Bush really did rush his nomination of Judge John G. Roberts to the Supreme Court in order to knock the Karl Rove story off the front page. But if he did -- he did a poor job of it.

"Unfortunately for the conspiracy theory and/or the conspiracy, the first 18 hours of Democratic reaction to the Roberts candidacy seems to be almost benign.

"No hair-on-fire, 'Save America!' response means no controversy.

"No controversy means no headlines.

"No headlines means -- we rejoin the Karl Rove story already in progress. . . .

"Karl Rove is the Natalee Holloway of non-tabloid journalism. His story will stick around, whether or not politicians or reporters want it to, because people will watch."

Keeping the Story Alive

The Associated Press reports: "Eleven former intelligence officers are speaking up on behalf of CIA officer Valerie Plame, saying leaking her identity may have damaged national security and threatens the ability of U.S. intelligence gathering."

Here's their letter

Mark Preston (subscription required) writes in Roll Call: "In a set of talking points issued Wednesday morning, the Senate Democratic leadership urged rank-and-file Senators to continue spotlighting Rove's involvement in the leaking of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity.

" 'A Supreme Court nominee will not distract the country from the growing credibility problem at the White House,' Democrats were told to echo, according to a copy of the leadership memo obtained by Roll Call. 'If Bush wants to know what Karl Rove and Scooter Libby did or did not do, he should call them into his office and ask them. It's time for President Bush to show some leadership.' "

And Democrats are planning a joint House-Senate faux hearing Friday morning, "to examine the national security implications of disclosing the identity of a covert intelligence officer."

Brief Respite

At yesterday's press briefing , spokesman Scott McClellan only faced two questions about the leak:

"Q In Chicago in December of '03, the President said, 'I want to know who the leakers are.' Separate from the legal issue, is the President convinced now that Karl Rove was one of the leakers?

"MR. McCLELLAN: I've answered these questions, and I don't have anything to say beyond what I've already said. Go ahead.

"Q What's the answer to that one, then, Scott?

"MR. McCLELLAN: I've answered these questions over the course of the last week. Go ahead."

The second one was not entirely serious:

"Q Is it true Karl Rove was the first person to leak John Roberts' name to the media last night? (Laughter.)

"MR. McCLELLAN: Next question."

But I suspect the pace will pick up again today.

Rove's Odds

A press release announces: " has entered the fray in the latest political storm to rock the White House by offering odds on the future of its Deputy Chief of Staff, Karl Rove. The opening line is that Rove will not be dismissed or resign in the wake of an ongoing criminal investigation, with odds at 1-6."

Conversely, the odds that he will be dismissed are 4 to 1.

Blogger Humor

Liberal bloggers are having great fun pointing out this just-released Associated Press photo taken in June 2003. It shows Rove and Robert Novak at a party marking the 40th anniversary of Novak's newspaper column. Rove, like many other people at the event, is wearing a button reading, 'I'm a source, not a target.'

New White House Star

Wondering why Bush sported a particularly odd grin during parts of his speech Tuesday night?

Ladies and gentleman, the dance stylings of Jack Roberts, age 4.


Russert Watch: In the Interest of Full Disclosure

Russert Watch: In the Interest of Full Disclosure
Arianna Huffington

Since I’m still away, this weekend’s Russert Watch will once again be in the masterful hands of Harry Shearer, who really nailed it last week when he pointed out the despicable-yet-delicious way that Russert, in interviewing Matt Cooper, completely failed to mention the fact that he too had testified in front of the grand jury investigating the Plame leak.

The latest twist in this tale that the blogosphere has been buzzing about (check out FishBowlDC, Jim Gilliam, JABBS and Digby) has put Russert smack in the middle of the story, with reports that his testimony puts him at odds with Scooter Libby’s testimony.

Gee, it seems like the kind of thing a journalist might want to tell his audience -- especially given the fact that there is no grand jury rule compelling witnesses to stay mum about their testimony. But he said not a word about it last week. Hell, he didn’t even whip out the old “In the interest of full disclosure, I should point out that…”

The biggest irony is that if this discrepancy between what Tim said he told Libby and what Libby said he told Tim ends up playing a role in taking down Libby and/or Rove, Tim Russert, of all people, will have actually played a role in keeping our government accountable.

Not a role he intended to play, of course, and one that he had to be subpoenaed for, but still, who’d’ve ever thunk it…

Russert’s guests this week include Fred Thompson, the actor who played a politician playing an actor now playing Bush’s SCOTUS handler for the nomination of John “Really Nice and Really Modest and Really Brilliant” Roberts, and Sen. Dick “Don’t Cry for Me Gitmo” Durbin. And a roundtable panel of Beltway journalists will discuss, among other things, the Rove scandal. Wonder if Tim will get them to play that hot new DC parlor game: “Guess What I Told the Grand Jury!”

Here are a few of the questions I’d like to hear Tim ask:

“Sen. Thompson, conservatives have frequently said that they want a Supreme Court nominee who will, in the words of Scott McClellan, ‘faithfully interpret our Constitution and our laws’. Don’t they really mean that they want someone who will faithfully interpret the Constitution in their way?”

“A follow-up: Be straight with us -- no hems and haws -- who was the sexiest assistant D.A. on Law and Order, Claire, Abbie, Jamie, Serena or Alexandra?”

“Sen. Durbin, you voted against Judge Roberts two years ago when he was nominated to the federal bench. Why -- and do those reasons still hold?

“A follow-up: Why did you apologize for your Guantanamo remarks when you know at least as well as well as I do that you really didn’t say anything you needed to apologize for? And how come John McCain knew that you were going to apologize the Sunday before you did -- and said so on this show?

“For the panel… Bet you can’t guess what else I told, Mr. Fitzgerald! Go ahead, try…”


Poll: Many fear Iraq hurting war on terror

USA Today
Poll: Many fear Iraq hurting war on terror

WASHINGTON (AP) — A growing number of Americans fear the war in Iraq is undermining the fight against terrorism and raising the risk of terrorist attacks in this country, a poll found.

Almost half, 47%, say the war in Iraq has hurt the fight against terrorism — the highest number to say that since the war began in March 2003, according to the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

And about the same number, 45%, said soon after the first round of subway bombings in London that the war in Iraq was raising the risk of terrorism in this country. That's up from 36% last fall.

But increased doubts about the effects of the Iraq war have not had much of an effect on overall support for the continuing effort to establish Iraq's attempts at democracy. About half the public, 52%, favors staying in Iraq until the country is stabilized and about the same number, 49%, support the decision to go to war.

The number who support the decision to go to war has not changed much during the year.

People are evenly divided on whether a timetable should be set on withdrawal from Iraq.

Hopes remain high that the United States can eventually establish a stable government in Iraq, with six in 10 saying they think a stable government will be established and just a third said the U.S. will fail.

Only a fourth of those polled, 27%, said President Bush has a clear plan for bringing the situation in Iraq to a successful conclusion. That's the lowest number on that measure since the start of the war.

The poll of 1,502 adults was taken July 13-17 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.


Many Layoffs Despite Good Economic Projections
Many Layoffs Despite Good Economic Projections

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (July 22) - In a week where Alan Greenspan said he expected the U.S. economy to keep growing and Wall Street seemed generally pleased with corporate performance, workers at Eastman Kodak Co., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Kimberly-Clark Corp., among others, were warned about thousands of new layoffs.

''You get immune to it after a while,'' longtime Kodak technician John Hladis said with barely a shrug when the scythe fell once more at the Rochester-based photography company, slicing away another 10,000 employees.

But some economy watchers are suddenly concerned that this latest flurry of job cuts - a byproduct of various trends such as outsourcing, mergers, automation, changing technology and consumer demands - may foreshadow some trouble ahead.

''We won't know till afterwards, but I do think we may be seeing a tipping point in the economic cycle that these big layoffs are flagging,'' said John A. Challenger, chief executive of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a Chicago-based employment research firm. ''I think it's a sign that leaks are breaking out.''

One thing is for certain: It was not a good week for American labor. In fact, it's been an unusually torrid summer in terms of trimming payrolls.

U.S. corporations announced plans in June to cut 110,996 jobs - the highest monthly total in 17 months - and July's toll could turn out to be steeper. Overall job cuts are on the rise in 2005, reaching 538,274 through June, according to Challenger's monthly job-cut analysis.

Suffering its third straight quarterly loss, Kodak upped its job-slashing target to 22,000 to 25,000 on Wednesday from an earlier range of 12,000 to 15,000. By mid-2007, its worldwide payroll should level out below 50,000, one-third what it was in 1988.

Even as the picture-taking pioneer enjoys rapid gains in digital photography, it is struggling to cope with plummeting demand for conventional silver-halide film, its cash cow for the last century.

''We cannot keep bleeding year after year,'' Kodak's new chief executive, Antonio Perez, told analysts. ''We need to establish an end point to this transformation, and we need to get there soon.''

The same applies at Hewlett-Packard. The Palo Alto, Calif., computer and printer maker moved Tuesday to modify its pension benefits and eliminate 14,500 jobs, or nearly 10 percent of its work force, in a scramble to rein in bloated costs and combat efficient rivals.

Kimberly-Clark joined the job terminators Friday: The maker of Kleenex tissues and Huggies diapers plans to let 6,000 people go and sell or close as many as 20 plants. And Ford Motor Corp., which is already cutting 2,700 salaried workers this year, is mulling more aggressive measures.

In contrast, International Business Machines Corp.'s second-quarter earnings beat Wall Street's expectations, suggesting a rebound from its difficulties this spring when it targeted 14,500 job cuts, primarily in Europe.

Indeed, the economic picture displayed plenty of positives this past week.

The Labor Department said the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits plunged 34,000 to 303,000 - the largest one-week improvement since December 2002. And while Greenspan cautioned that a big run-up in already high energy prices could throw a wrench into his forecast, the Federal Reserve Board chairman reiterated his bullish economic outlook.

''The economy,'' Challenger acknowledged, ''has been very strong for the last year. We've seen over 2 million jobs created, we've seen unemployment drop to 5.0 percent, but I feel like we've probably hit the high water mark.

''We are beginning to see some of these icon companies topple a bit. It's not visible too much yet, but these are signs and suggest the next six months to a year are going to be tougher times for the economy.''

The huge overhauls at General Motors Corp., Kodak and other bellwether companies are hardly surprising considering the heightened pressures of global competition, countered Pete Sperling, professor of finance at Yeshiva University's Sy Syms School of Business in New York. The U.S. economy has become more dominated by service industries, he said.

''It's something that's basically long overdue,'' Sperling said, referring to the transformations under way at many legacy manufacturers. ''I would almost argue that if these businesses don't get it done now, we'll be in bigger trouble down the road. It's adapt or just go by the wayside.

''One of the most difficult things,'' Sperling added, ''is you need a senior management that knows how to function in this kind of environment - and that's very difficult to find. At Kodak, it sounds as if at least they're moving in the right direction.''

Kodak is hoping film will continue to bring enough cash as it steadies on its new bearing. But less than seven weeks after taking the helm, CEO Perez is already reaching for the ax.

Hladis, 55, who joined Kodak in 1975, has survived a seemingly endless string of company cutbacks over the last quarter-century and is glad to be working in a research unit focused on ''mostly digital stuff.'' But Stan Beloch, 52, a machine operator, worries his 15-year career has fallen in front of the firing line.

''They tell us nobody is going to lose their jobs, they can send us to other areas of the company,'' he said gloomily. ''But there's not a whole lot of other areas you can go to.''


Pentagon seeks higher age limit for recruits


Pentagon seeks higher age limit for recruits

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Faced with major recruiting problems sparked by troop deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon has asked Congress to raise the maximum age for U.S. military enlistees from 35 to 42 years old.

The request, sent to lawmakers this week, would apply to all active duty branches of the military services, said Air Force Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke, a Pentagon spokeswoman, on Friday. But it is aimed chiefly at the active duty Army, which has fallen far short of recruiting goals this year, by adding millions of potential enlistees.

The Army has provided most of the 140,000 U.S. ground troops in Iraq and has also relied heavily on part-time soldiers from the National Guard and Reserve for year-long deployments there.

Krenke said the active duty Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, which are meeting their recruiting goals, were unlikely to change their current policy of declining to accept recruits older than 35.

The new proposal would not change the limit of 39 years old for those with previous military service who seek to enlist in the Army Reserves and National Guard.

The Army National Guard, struggling more than any other part of the U.S. military to sign up new troops amid the Iraq war, missed its ninth straight monthly recruiting goal in June.

The regular Army met its recruiting goal this month, but is still 14 percent behind its year-to-date recruiting target and is in danger of missing an annual recruiting goal for the first time since 1999. The Army Reserve is 21 percent behind its year-to-date goal and also in danger of falling short for the year.


Congress Report: TSA Broke Privacy Laws

Yahoo! News
Congress Report: TSA Broke Privacy Laws

By LESLIE MILLER, Associated Press Writer

The Transportation Security Administration violated privacy protections by secretly collecting personal information on at least 250,000 people, congressional investigators said Friday.

The Government Accountability Office sent a letter to Congress saying the collection violated the Privacy Act, which prohibits the government from compiling information on people without their knowledge.

The information was collected as the agency tested a program, now called Secure Flight, to conduct computerized checks of airline passengers against terrorist watch lists.

TSA had promised it would only use the limited information about passengers that it had obtained from airlines. Instead, the agency and its contractors compiled files on people using data from commercial brokers and then compared those files with the lists.

The GAO reported that about 100 million records were collected.

The 1974 Privacy Act requires the government to notify the public when it collects information about people. It must say who it's gathering information about, what kinds of information, why it's being collected and how the information is stored.

And to protect people from having misinformation about them in their files, the government must also disclose how they can access and correct the data it has collected.

Before it began testing Secure Flight, the TSA published notices in September and November saying that it would collect from airlines information about people who flew commercially in June 2004.

Instead, the agency actually took 43,000 names of passengers and used about 200,000 variations of those names — who turned out to be real people who may not have flown that month, the GAO said. A TSA contractor collected 100 million records on those names.

Justin Oberman, the TSA official in charge of Secure Flight, said that was a highly instructive test.

"When you cannot distinguish one John Smith from another, you're going to get records from John Smiths who aren't boarding flights on an order of magnitude we can't handle," Oberman said.

He said the testing is designed to find out what kind of data airlines will need to get — such as passengers' birthdates — so they can turn it over to the government to check against watch lists.

The GAO letter said that the TSA also said originally that it wouldn't use and store commercial data about airline passengers. It not only did that, it collected and stored information about the people with similar names.

"As a result, an unknown number of individuals whose personal information was collected were not notified as to how they might access or amend their personal data," the letter said.

It was only after meeting with the GAO, which is overseeing the program, that the TSA published a second notice indicating that it would do the things it had earlier said it wouldn't do.

Oberman said it's not unusual to revise such notices.

"We are conducting a test," he said. "I didn't know what the permutations would be."

Oberman also said that the test has no impact on anyone who travels and that the data will be destroyed when the test is over.

Friday's GAO letter shed new light on how the TSA expanded the testing of Secure Flight well beyond its original scope and why it had to publish the second notice.

The letter drew a sharp rebuke from Senate Homeland Security Committee chairman Susan Collins, R-Maine, and the ranking Democrat, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff dated Friday.

"Careless missteps such as this jeopardize the public trust and DHS' ability to deploy a much-needed, new system," the letter said, citing the project's "unfortunate history."


On the Net:

Transportation Security Administration:

Homeland Security Department:


Government Defies an Order to Release Iraq Abuse Photos

The New York Times

Government Defies an Order to Release Iraq Abuse Photos

Lawyers for the Defense Department are refusing to cooperate with a federal judge's order to release secret photographs and videotapes related to the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal.

The lawyers said in a letter sent to the federal court in Manhattan late Thursday that they would file a sealed brief explaining their reasons for not turning over the material, which they were to have released by yesterday.

The photographs were some of thousands turned over by Specialist Joseph M. Darby, the whistle-blower who exposed the abuse at Abu Ghraib by giving investigators computer disks containing photographs and videos of prisoners being abused, sexually humiliated and threatened with growling dogs.

The small number of the photographs released in spring 2004 provoked international outrage at the American military.

In early June, Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of Federal District Court in Manhattan ordered the release of the additional photographs, part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union to determine the extent of abuse at American military prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan and at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

The government has turned over more than 60,000 pages of documents on the treatment of detainees, some containing graphic descriptions of mistreatment. But the material that the judge ordered released - the A.C.L.U. says there are 87 photographs and 4 videos - would be the first images released in the suit. The judge said they would be the "best evidence" in the debate about the treatment of Abu Ghraib prisoners.

"There is another dimension to a picture that is of much greater moment and immediacy" than a document, Judge Hellerstein said in court.

He rejected arguments from the government that releasing the photographs would violate the Geneva Conventions because prisoners might be identified and "further humiliated," but he ordered any identifying features to be removed from the images.

In the letter sent Thursday, Sean Lane, an assistant United States attorney, said that the government was withholding the photographs because they "could result in harm to individuals," and that it would outline the reasons in a sealed brief to the court.

The A.C.L.U. accused the government of continuing to stonewall requests for information "of critical public interest."

"The government chose the last possible moment to raise this argument," said Amrit Singh, a staff lawyer with the A.C.L.U.

"Because it is under seal, we don't know whether their reasons are adequate," Ms. Singh said.


Anti-Abortion Advocacy of Wife of Court Nominee Draws Interest

The New York Times

Anti-Abortion Advocacy of Wife of Court Nominee Draws Interest

WASHINGTON, July 22 - Judge John G. Roberts has left little hard evidence of his views on abortion in recent years and is widely expected to try to avoid the issue in his coming confirmation hearings.

But there is little mystery about the views of his wife, Jane Sullivan Roberts, a Roman Catholic lawyer from the Bronx whose pro bono work for Feminists for Life is drawing intense interest in the ideologically charged environment of a Supreme Court confirmation debate.

Some abortion opponents view her activities as a clear signal that the Robertses are committed to their cause; supporters of abortion rights fear the same thing. Others say that drawing a direct line from her activities to how her husband might rule on the Supreme Court - assuming that he not only shares her views, but would also act on them to overturn 32 years of legal precedents - is both politically risky and in bad form.

No less a Democratic stalwart than Senator Edward M. Kennedy said, at a breakfast meeting with reporters on Friday, that Mrs. Roberts's work "ought to be out of bounds."

Advocates on both sides have long acknowledged that with this issue, the personal is often political. But Mrs. Roberts has led an independent and unapologetic life that defies any attempt at pigeonholing.

Mrs. Roberts, who declined to be interviewed for this article, was not recruited by Feminists for Life, but sought the group out about a decade ago and offered her services as a lawyer, said its president, Serrin Foster. The group was reorganizing at the time and beginning to focus its work on college campuses. Its mission statement, driven home in advertising in recent years, says: "Abortion is a reflection that our society has failed to meet the needs of women. Women deserve better than abortion."

Mrs. Roberts served on the board of the organization for four years, and later provided legal services. Ms. Foster said that as an adoptive parent, Mrs. Roberts made contributions that included urging the group to focus more on the needs of biological mothers, and adding a biological mother to the board of directors.

Ms. Foster said Feminists for Life was committed not only to ending abortion, but also to making it "unthinkable" by providing every woman with the assistance she needs. Reversing Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that recognized a constitutional right to abortion, is a goal, she said, "but not enough."

In recent years, the group has supported efforts to ban the procedure that critics call partial-birth abortion, which is usually performed in the second and third trimesters, as well as legislation that prohibits transporting a minor across state lines to evade parental notification laws. In previous years, the group weighed in on litigation seeking further restrictions on abortion, but Ms. Foster said that was before Mrs. Roberts joined the board.

"We're not a litigious institution now," Ms. Foster said. "We decided we were not a legal group; we were going to go after parenting resources and pregnancy resources, and Jane was part of that redefinition. She came on at that time."

Sensing the highly charged atmosphere around the issue, longtime friends and colleagues of Mrs. Roberts declined to speak this week about her views on abortion. But they characterized her political and social views much as her husband's friends have portrayed his in recent days: expressly conservative, but not dogmatic.

"Jane has very strong personal convictions, politically and with regard to her faith," said Christine Kearns, a friend and colleague who has worked with Mrs. Roberts for 18 years at a law firm now called Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman. "But as long as I've known her, I've never known her to impose them on others or to be unwilling to listen to other people's points of view."

One thing is certain; Mrs. Roberts's Catholic faith has long played a central role in her life. The daughter of a Postal Service technician and a medical secretary, Jane Sullivan grew up the oldest of four children in what was an Italian and Irish neighborhood in the Morris Park section of the Bronx, where she played dodgeball in the streets and took Irish step dancing lessons. With the family's parish church, Our Lady of Solace, down the block and her paternal grandparents living next door, it was a safe, close-knit existence.

The family held onto its ties to Ireland, keeping a family home in the small town of Knocklong in the County of Limerick, where they still gather at least every two years.

After graduating from St. Catherine's Academy, an all-girls' high school in the Bronx, Mrs. Roberts joined the first class of women to enter the College of the Holy Cross, in Worcester, Mass., where she attended Mass several times a week, tutored football players in mathematics, her major, and carved a path as a student leader. A budding feminist even with her traditionalist streak, she was one of four students who represented the student body in a heated dispute when the feminist scholar Marilyn French, who taught at the college from 1972 to 1976, was denied tenure.

"We were the pioneers," said Connie McCaffrey, a clinical social worker at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire who has been a close friend of Mrs. Roberts since they met on the first day of freshman year. "There was a very strong sense of camaraderie among the women who came in that year. And Janey took her responsibilities as one among that group very seriously."

Determined to explore the world, she graduated from Holy Cross in 1976, traveled to Australia on a Rotary scholarship, trekked through Nepal and backpacked around Europe before earning a master's degree in applied mathematics from Brown in 1981 and a law degree from Georgetown in 1984.

She has maintained close ties with Holy Cross, serving on its board. The Rev. Charles Currie, president of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, is also a member of the Holy Cross board and regularly travels to its meetings with Mrs. Roberts.

"It's unfortunate in this whole discussion," Father Currie said, "they're already putting it somewhat in terms of conservative/liberal. It's always a shame when issues are reduced to that simplicity. She may be conservative in some things, but not in others. She's much more complex."

In her professional life, Mrs. Roberts continued to look for the road less traveled, establishing a specialty in the male-dominated field of technology and communications law and earning a partnership in her firm's global technology practice. Still, friends and family members said, she asserted a quietly defiant individuality, negotiating multimillion-dollar satellite deals while still driving a bright orange Volkswagen Beetle long after she could have afforded a more expensive car.

Friends say she met John G. Roberts in Dewey Beach, Del. "I think she kind of just knew he was the one," said her sister Mary Torre. "He had a great sense of humor, which in an Irish family is very important."

The couple married in July 1996, when they were both 41, and friends say they immediately began discussing their desire to start a family, even talking about children at their wedding reception.

"Most of us had gotten married in the mid-80's," said Richard Lazarus, a friend and law school roommate of Mr. Roberts, "and I can't say that during those weddings we talked about children. We were more focused on ourselves."

"These were two, very accomplished, very successful lawyers," Mr. Lazarus said. "It wasn't an incidental statement. It was a shared, very important next step, and it was a very pronounced theme."

In 2000 the couple adopted a daughter, Josephine, and a son, John, through what Ms. Torre said was a private adoption.

"It is a testament to the power of prayer," said Ms. Kearns, Mrs. Roberts's friend. "Who knew whether they would get any children. They qualified to adopt. She waited, but she never, ever, was discouraged."

After years as a hard-charging lawyer, Mrs. Roberts went part-time in 2003, designing and running an in-house professional development center for her firm (though colleagues say her part-time hours would be considered full-time to most people).

The Robertses' relationship, some say, has deepened their faith. "As it often happens, when two people get together and share a faith, it can be magnified by their joining," Mr. Lazarus said. "I think that has been the case for them, even more so once they had the kids. But it is a very personal faith. It does not serve, for them, as a way of judging others."

With the Supreme Court confirmation battle under way, when everything from her views on abortion to her children's clothes will be under scrutiny, Mrs. Roberts is showing her customary aplomb, friends say. Among her only complaints is that the air-conditioning in her PT Cruiser, which she is driving to strategy sessions at the White House, stopped working during this, the hottest week so far in a very hot summer. So far, she has said, she has managed to weather the heat.


Friday, July 22, 2005

White House threatens veto on detainee policies


White House threatens veto on detainee policies

By Vicki Allen

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House on Thursday threatened to veto a massive Senate bill for $442 billion in next year's defense programs if it moves to regulate the Pentagon's treatment of detainees or sets up a commission to investigate operations at Guantanamo Bay prison and elsewhere.

The Bush administration, under fire for the indefinite detention of enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and questions over whether its policies led to horrendous abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, put lawmakers on notice it did not want them legislating on the matter.

In a statement, the White House said such amendments would "interfere with the protection of Americans from terrorism by diverting resources from the war."

"If legislation is presented that would restrict the president's authority to protect Americans effectively from terrorist attack and bring terrorists to justice," the bill could be vetoed, the statement said.

Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, who endured torture as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, said after meeting at the Capitol with Vice President Dick Cheney that he still intended to offer amendments next week "on the standard of treatment of prisoners."

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who was working on legislation defining the legal status of enemy combatants being held in Guantanamo, also said he would offer an amendment.

They were working with Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner of Virginia on amendments intended to prevent further abuses in the wake of the scandal over sexual abuse and mistreatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison and harsh, degrading interrogations at Guantanamo.

Possible measures included barring the holding of "ghost" detainees whose names are not disclosed, codifying a ban against cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment, and using the Army manual as a basis for all interrogations.

Democrats on Thursday said they would push an amendment to establish an independent national commission to investigate policies that led to abuses of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and elsewhere.

Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, the Armed Services Committee's top Democrat, said the commission on detainee abuses was needed because "the most serious scandal in recent military history needs an objective investigation."

Levin said the commission should be modeled on the bipartisan commission that probed the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts said the Pentagon's own investigations into detainee abuses left "huge gaps. ... The military reviewing itself, that's not good enough."

Pentagon "talking points" against the special detainee commission circulating around the Capitol said the issue had been "thoroughly investigated" and "a new open-ended investigation" would add "nothing but political theater."

The talking points said reforms were under way, and the Pentagon "has the matter well in hand. The department and the services are doing everything possible to address this challenge."


Poll: Roberts' Abortion Stance of Interest

Poll: Roberts' Abortion Stance of Interest

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Just over half of all Americans - and a solid majority of women - want to know John Roberts' position on abortion before the Senate votes on whether to elevate him to the Supreme Court.

Most people don't yet know enough about Roberts to form an opinion on him, but among those who do, most view him favorably, an AP-Ipsos poll also found.

Roberts, 50, an appeals court judge and former Justice Department official, was chosen by President Bush on Tuesday to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Abortion is sure to come up at his Senate confirmation hearings, and the survey found 52 percent believe he should give his position on the matter before lawmakers vote on him, while 42 percent said he should not. Women were more inclined to want to know his position - 60 percent - while only 43 percent of men felt similarly.


Iraq War Vet Runs for Congress in Ohio

Iraq War Vet Runs for Congress in Ohio

Associated Press Writer

SEAMAN, Ohio (AP) -- A few months ago, Paul Hackett was flushing out insurgents and avoiding ambushes in Fallujah, Ramadi and other hotspots in the Iraq. Today, the Marine is trying to round up votes in small southern Ohio towns like this one.

Hackett, a Democrat, is running in a special election Aug. 2 in a bid to become the first Iraq war veteran elected to Congress.

So at dawn on a recent day, he was having eggs and toast at the Cruiser Diner, recounting his war experiences to a young soldier facing Iraq duty later this year.

Later that day, he was campaigning among avid hunters in Adams County, telling them about the guns he keeps at home and joking: "I thought gun control was when you hit your target."

And in the town of Peebles, he found himself talking with two retired veterans about tattoos, like the Marine emblem he has over his heart.

The 43-year-old lawyer, former Milford city councilman and Marine Reserve major is hoping his battlefield experience will help him become the first Democrat to get elected in Ohio's conservative 2nd District in three decades.

He is facing a well-known, experienced Republican - former state Rep. Jean Schmidt - in the seven counties stretching eastward from the Cincinnati suburbs through largely rural areas.

Hackett said he was urged by friends to run when he returned from Iraq in March. He calls his candidacy "a natural extension" of his military service, and says going to Congress as the lone Iraq war veteran could give him a voice on the war and related issues.

Although Hackett initially opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq as a pre-emptive war that "set a bad precedent," he now says: "We're there now. My Marines are over there fighting. We can't cut and run .... I want to see what we're doing in Iraq work out."

He said training of Iraqi forces must be dramatically improved, and U.S. units should be paired with Iraqi units for "24-7" teamwork and training.

For her part, Schmidt has said that she supported the war from the beginning and that Iraqi troops need to be trained to defend their country before the U.S. pulls out.

Schmidt and Hackett both espouse fiscal conservatism and limited government, although she goes into more detail with proposals such as eliminating estate and capital gains taxes and instituting a flat tax. Another difference: He supports abortion rights, while she heads the Cincinnati area Right to Life.

A Hackett TV commercial that began airing this week opens with a clip of President Bush saying: "There is no higher calling than service in our armed forces." Hackett also recounts his decision to volunteer last year to serve seven months in Iraq.

That Hackett is on television at all is remarkable in deep-red southwestern Ohio, which helped tilt Ohio's crucial 20 electoral votes to Bush last year. Seven-term Republican Rob Portman regularly won with more than 70 percent of the vote before leaving Congress to becoming Bush's U.S. trade representative this year.

Army Lt. Paul Worley, 23, of Peebles, said he likes the idea of a congressman veteran as he prepares for Iraq duty later this year: "You can't substitute anything for leadership by example, somebody who's been there and seen it."

Others do not see Hackett's military background as reason to vote for him.

"He was in the military; there's been a lot of people in the military," said David Werring, a farmer who served in the Marines. "It's nice, but I want to get down to the real issues."

He cites Schmidt's push for a national energy policy that would include more emphasis on ethanol.

Schmidt, 53, has been in politics most of her life, as a GOP official, township trustee or state legislator, and has emphasized her experience.

Stuart Rothenberg, editor of a nonpartisan Washington political report, said a Hackett victory would be "a mega-surprise" in the heavily Republican district.

As the election nears, Hackett is getting more help from state and national Democrats, with a $1,000-a-head fund-raiser with strategist James Carville this week, and a campaign visit Thursday by Max Cleland, the disabled Vietnam veteran and former senator from Georgia.

Launching into a 15-hour day of campaigning, Hackett scoffed as he recalled someone telling him how hard the campaign life was: "I get to see my family at home every night; that's better than being in Iraq. The potshots I take .... are better than the potshots in Iraq."


On the Net:


Thursday, July 21, 2005

NYPD Will Begin Checking Bags on Subways

1010 WINS - New York's All News Station |

NYPD Will Begin Checking Bags on Subways

Police will begin conducting random searches of packages and backpacks carried by people entering city subways, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Thursday after a new series of bomb attacks in London.

Authorities said the system for the checks is still being developed, but the plan is for passengers carrying bags to be selected at random before they have passed through turnstiles.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly promised that officers would not engage in racial profiling, and that passengers will be free to ``turn around and leave'' rather than consent to a search.

Officials wouldn't immediately say how frequently the checks would occur. The checks are scheduled to be in place by rush hour on Friday morning.

``We just live in a world where, sadly, these kinds of security measures are necessary,'' Bloomberg said. ``Are they intrusive? Yes, a little bit. But we are trying to find that right balance.''

Authorities said there is also a possibility that checks will be conducted of some bus and train passengers.

Searching the bags of more than a token number of straphangers may be impossible.

New York's subways carry about 4.5 million passengers on the average weekday, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

There are 468 subway stations in the system, most of which have multiple entrances, and during rush hours, the flood of humanity in and out of key stations can be overwhelming.

Asked whether the searches might create a bottleneck at subway entrances, Kelly suggested the searches would be of a small enough sampling of passengers that only individuals, rather than whole crowds, would be delayed.

``We are going to do it in a reasonable common sense way,'' he said.

Similar types of random searches of subway passengers have prompted complaints from civil liberties groups in other cities, and in some cases have been challenged in court.

Christopher Dunn, associate legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said the searches in New York could be problematic, if not conducted properly.

``The department can and should be actively and aggressively investigating anyone they suspect of bringing explosives into the subway, but police searches of people without any individualized suspicion is contrary to our most basic constitutional values,'' he said.

It was not immediately clear what would happen if an officer looking for explosives found some other form of contraband. Passengers who are approached for a random search and refuse will be barred from entering the station, Kelly said.


NYPD Gives Tips On How To Spot A Terrorist

1010 WINS - New York's All News Station |
NYPD Gives Tips On How To Spot A Terrorist

Beware the mass transit rider with clenched fists. Or one nervously feeling under or patting down his or her clothes. Or one who reeks of too much cologne or perfume.

According to a new police memo, someone looking or smelling that way — though not particularly odd by New York standards — could be a terrorist about to strike.

Issued at the New York Police Department earlier this week, the memo suggests "talking points" for officers who board trains and buses to warn commuters to be on the lookout for suspicious behavior and packages in the wake of the suicide bombings in London.

Officials at the nation's largest police department prepared the memo after seeing television news footage of a New York sergeant, Luis Pineiro, reassuring bus passengers and giving them safety tips following the July 7 attacks.

"That was the inspiration," the department's chief spokesman, Paul Browne, said Wednesday. "We thought he delivered it well and it was received well by the public, so we decided to expand it."

Officers formally began the prevention effort on Monday while doing sweeps of Amtrak trains leaving Pennsylvania Station bound for Washington, D.C., at rush hour. Commuters on subway trains and buses also will be urged to be vigilant about reporting any signs of trouble in the transit system.

Some of those signs require explanation (read on).

Clenched fists? In past attacks, suicide bombers have used explosives that require them to maintain pressure on hand-held triggering devices until detonation, police said.

The warning about a rider patting down his or her clothing stems from reports about the behavior of one of the London suicide bombers before he struck, police said. And excessive use of cologne could be a sign of someone trying to mask the scent of explosives.

The memo also advises that a bomber could give himself or herself away by "perspiring profusely, avoiding eye contact, mumbling or chanting" or by "wearing clothes that are unsuitable for the time of year," such as a coat in summer.


Pentagon: Iraqi Insurgents Remain Lethal
Pentagon: Iraqi Insurgents Remain Lethal

AP Military Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Pentagon told Congress Thursday that Iraqi insurgents are failing to derail the move toward democracy but remain "capable, adaptable and intent" on carrying out lethal attacks aided by a continuing inflow of foreign terrorists.

Its 23-page report - the most comprehensive public assessment yet by the military establishment of progress in Iraq - was more than a week overdue. In it, the Pentagon cited progress on political, economic and security fronts. But it not say how soon a Iraqi security forces will be sufficiently trained to defend the wartorn country without the direct assistance of American troops.

U.S. officers have developed a method of calculating the combat readiness of the approximately 76,700 Iraqi Army troops, but the Pentagon said it "should not and must not" publicly disclose specific data.

"The enemy's knowledge of such details would put both Iraqi and coalition forces at increased risk," the report said.

That information, along with details on various possible changes in the level of U.S. forces in Iraq next year, were included in an annex, classified as secret, along with the unclassified report delivered to Congress.

There currently are about 138,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. The Pentagon report offered no estimate of when they could be withdrawn.

Democratic critics of Bush administration Iraq policy lashed out at the Pentagon for refusing to publicly release a detailed assessment of the readiness of Iraqi security forces.

Sen. Carl Levin, ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he fears "the American people are going to be left out" of discussions about when the United States can bring troops home and turn the wartorn country over to Iraqi security forces.

Last week, Gen. Peter Pace, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, provided a written statement to the Senate Armed Services Committee that said about half of Iraq's new police battalions are still being established and cannot yet conduct operations. He provided the statement in response to a question posed by Levin.

It was not clear how that squared with an assertion in Thursday's report to Congress that "more than half of provincial police headquarters currently are assessed to have control in their province."

Pace said the other half of the police units and two-thirds of the new army battalions are only "partially capable" of carrying out counterinsurgency missions and need U.S. help.

"Only a small number of Iraqi Security Forces are taking on the insurgents and terrorists by themselves," Pace wrote in the memo.

Thursday's report to Congress noted that when U.S. and Iraqi forces assaulted the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah last November several Iraqi battalions "collapsed." Absenteeism among regular Iraqi army units was "in double digits" and remained so for the rest of the year, it added.

"Although such problems have not been entirely solved, they have been addressed in large measure," the report said, due in part to efforts that have alleviated equipment shortages.

"Still, units that are conducting operations and units that relocate elsewhere in Iraqi experience a surge in absenteeism," it added.

Although the report said that Iraqi Sunnis make up the largest proportion of the insurgency, it also decried a continuing influx of foreign terrorists from across Iraq's borders. Iraq has 15,500 trained border police, but their effectiveness varies widely and is rated by U.S. officials as "generally moderate to low."

"Although violent extremist activity accounts for a fraction of the overall violence, the dramatic and symbolic nature and lethality of their attacks, combined with effective information operations, has a disproportionate psychological impact relative to their numbers," the report said.

Outlining the way forward on the political front, the report said that Washington expects the Iraqis to meet an Aug. 15 deadline for writing a constitution, followed by a national referendum on the constitution by Oct. 15 and a Dec. 15 election under that constitution for a permanent government that would take power shortly thereafter.

"One noteworthy strategic indicator of progress toward a stable security environment has been the inability of insurgents to derail the political process and timeline," the report said. "To do so is the strategic objective of the insurgents, and they are failing to achieve it."


Plame's Identity Marked As Secret

Plame's Identity Marked As Secret
Memo Central to Probe Of Leak Was Written By State Dept. Analyst

By Walter Pincus and Jim VandeHei
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, July 21, 2005; A01

A classified State Department memorandum central to a federal leak investigation contained information about CIA officer Valerie Plame in a paragraph marked "(S)" for secret, a clear indication that any Bush administration official who read it should have been aware the information was classified, according to current and former government officials.

Plame -- who is referred to by her married name, Valerie Wilson, in the memo -- is mentioned in the second paragraph of the three-page document, which was written on June 10, 2003, by an analyst in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), according to a source who described the memo to The Washington Post.

The paragraph identifying her as the wife of former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV was clearly marked to show that it contained classified material at the "secret" level, two sources said. The CIA classifies as "secret" the names of officers whose identities are covert, according to former senior agency officials.

Anyone reading that paragraph should have been aware that it contained secret information, though that designation was not specifically attached to Plame's name and did not describe her status as covert, the sources said. It is a federal crime, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, for a federal official to knowingly disclose the identity of a covert CIA official if the person knows the government is trying to keep it secret.

Prosecutors attempting to determine whether senior government officials knowingly leaked Plame's identity as a covert CIA operative to the media are investigating whether White House officials gained access to information about her from the memo, according to two sources familiar with the investigation.

The memo may be important to answering three central questions in the Plame case: Who in the Bush administration knew about Plame's CIA role? Did they know the agency was trying to protect her identity? And, who leaked it to the media?

Almost all of the memo is devoted to describing why State Department intelligence experts did not believe claims that Saddam Hussein had in the recent past sought to purchase uranium from Niger. Only two sentences in the seven-sentence paragraph mention Wilson's wife.

The memo was delivered to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell on July 7, 2003, as he headed to Africa for a trip with President Bush aboard Air Force One. Plame was unmasked in a syndicated column by Robert D. Novak seven days later.

Wilson has said his wife's identity was revealed to retaliate against him for accusing the Bush administration of "twisting" intelligence to justify the Iraq war. In a July 6 opinion piece in the New York Times and in an interview with The Washington Post, he cited a secret mission he conducted in February 2002 for the CIA, when he determined there was no evidence that Iraq was seeking uranium for a nuclear weapons program in the African nation of Niger.

White House officials discussed Wilson's wife's CIA connection in telling at least two reporters that she helped arrange his trip, according to one of the reporters, Matthew Cooper of Time magazine, and a lawyer familiar with the case.

Prosecutors have shown interest in the memo, especially when they were questioning White House officials during the early days of the investigation, people familiar with the probe said.

Karl Rove, President Bush's deputy chief of staff, has testified that he learned Plame's name from Novak a few days before telling another reporter she worked at the CIA and played a role in her husband's mission, according to a lawyer familiar with Rove's account. Rove has also testified that the first time he saw the State Department memo was when "people in the special prosecutor's office" showed it to him, said Robert Luskin, his attorney.

"He had not seen it or heard about it before that time," Luskin said.

Several other administration officials were on the trip to Africa, including senior adviser Dan Bartlett, then-White House spokesman Ari Fleischer and others. Bartlett's attorney has refused to discuss the case, citing requests by the special counsel. Fleischer could not be reach for comment yesterday.

Rove and Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, have been identified as people who discussed Wilson's wife with Cooper. Prosecutors are trying to determine the origin of their knowledge of Plame, including whether it was from the INR memo or from conversations with reporters.

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that the memo made it clear that information about Wilson's wife was sensitive and should not be shared. Yesterday, sources provided greater detail on the memo to The Post.

The material in the memo about Wilson's wife was based on notes taken by an INR analyst who attended a Feb. 19, 2002, meeting at the CIA where Wilson's intelligence-gathering trip to Niger was discussed.

The memo was drafted June 10, 2003, for Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman, who asked to be brought up to date on INR's opposition to the White House view that Hussein was trying to buy uranium in Africa.

The description of Wilson's wife and her role in the Feb. 19, 2002, meeting at the CIA was considered "a footnote" in a background paragraph in the memo, according to an official who was aware of the process.

It records that the INR analyst at the meeting opposed Wilson's trip to Niger because the State Department, through other inquiries, already had disproved the allegation that Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger. Attached to the INR memo were the notes taken by the senior INR analyst who attended the 2002 meeting at the CIA.

On July 6, 2003, shortly after Wilson went public on NBC's "Meet the Press" and in The Post and the New York Times discussing his trip to Niger, the INR director at the time, Carl W. Ford Jr., was asked to explain Wilson's statements for Powell, according to sources familiar with the events. He went back and reprinted the June 10 memo but changed the addressee from Grossman to Powell.

Ford last year appeared before the federal grand jury investigating the leak and described the details surrounding the INR memo, the sources said. Yesterday he was on vacation in Arkansas, according to his office.


President Calls on Congress To Extend Patriot Act Provisions

President Calls on Congress To Extend Patriot Act Provisions
16 Items, Some Controversial, Set to Expire at End of Year

By Michael A. Fletcher
Washington Post Staff Writer

BALTIMORE, July 20 -- President Bush visited this city's busy port Wednesday and renewed his call for Congress to extend the expiring provisions of the USA Patriot Act, which gives government wide latitude in investigating suspected terrorists.

Calling the law a potent weapon against terrorism, Bush said it gives law enforcement authorities the tools they need to stop terrorists before they strike. "This is no time to let our guard down, and no time to roll back good laws," he said. "The Patriot Act is expected to expire, but the terrorist threats will not expire."

Bush said the law, enacted in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, gives law enforcement and intelligence agencies new authority to share vital information.

He also credited the measure with helping authorities break up potential terrorist cells in several states.

"The Patriot Act hasn't diminished American liberties," Bush said. "It has helped to defend American liberties."

The Patriot Act includes 16 provisions that are set to expire at the end of the year unless renewed by Congress. Although most of the measures are not controversial, lawmakers are battling over the fate of several key surveillance and search provisions and whether to limit them or make them permanent. A vote on reauthorizing the Patriot Act is scheduled for today in the House, which is expected to approve it easily.

The situation is more complex in the Senate, where dueling bills from the judiciary and intelligence committees lay out starkly different approaches to the law.

The intelligence panel's version, sponsored by Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), would make the Patriot Act permanent and would also allow the FBI to issue administrative subpoenas and to more easily monitor mail as part of terrorism investigations, as advocated by the Bush administration. A separate bill proposed by Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) would add greater congressional oversight and would limit the government's powers in some areas.

Many civil liberties leaders and others have criticized the law as going too far in giving law enforcement authorities broad tools to investigate potential criminals. As a result, they say, it poses a threat to the privacy of law-abiding Americans by allowing authorities to employ measures such as roving wiretaps, and by giving them access to medical and library records in the course of investigations.

Bush said those techniques are governed by close oversight by the courts and others. He called them necessary in the war against would-be terrorists.

"This is a new kind of war," he said. "We are dealing with people who hide in the shadows of our cities. They kind of lay low, then they show up with deadly devices."

During his visit, Bush also showcased efforts to secure the nation's ports. He said new technology, the posting of U.S. customs inspectors at foreign ports and increases in federal grants have given the nation a better handle on the vast amount of cargo that continuously flows into the nation.

Before his speech, Bush toured the port and had an up-close look at a machine that is able to scan thick metal shipping containers for potential threats.

Still, critics in Congress, who have pushed unsuccessfully for more spending for port security, say the nation's ports remain unsafe. A report this year by the Government Accountability Office said U.S. ports remain vulnerable to terrorism, despite the increased spending and security efforts.

"Keeping our port and our people safe from terrorism is one of my top priorities, but it hasn't been a top priority for the president," Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) said in a statement. "We don't need port photo ops from the President; we need dollars for port security."

Maryland Democratic Party Chairman Terry Lierman echoed that view.

"There is a dramatic, dangerous gap between what the port gets and what the port needs," Lierman said.

Staff writer Dan Eggen in Washington contributed to this report.


Bush administration opposes shield for journalists


Bush administration opposes shield for journalists

By Patricia Wilson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration on Wednesday opposed federal legislation to protect journalists from having to reveal confidential sources because it would create "serious impediments" to law enforcement and fighting terrorism.

With a New York Times reporter in jail for refusing to testify before a grand jury probe into the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame, bills in the Senate and House of Representatives allowing reporters to shield their sources in most cases have gained traction.

But in written testimony provided to a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, U.S. Deputy Attorney General James Comey called the legislation "bad public policy" and warned it would cover "criminal or terrorist organizations that also have media operations ... such as al Qaeda."

"The bill would create serious impediments to the department's ability to effectively enforce the law and fight terrorism," Comey wrote.

Comey did not appear in person, prompting Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California -- and others on the panel -- to call for another hearing to question him about his "rather serious indictment" of the legislation.

Journalists say using anonymous sources is crucial to their work, including exposing government wrongdoing in cases like the Watergate scandal that toppled Richard Nixon's presidency and the printing of the Pentagon Papers on the Vietnam War.


The proposed legislation would require federal prosecutors and courts to exhaust all other avenues to obtain information before compelling news outlets and journalists to testify or produce documents except in cases of potential harm to national security.

Thirty one states and the District of Columbia have shield laws, but Comey rejected any comparison.

"None of the states deals with classified information in the way that the federal government does and no state is tasked with defending the nation as a whole or conducting international diplomacy," he said.

The bipartisan bills would extend to journalists the same sort of privilege that protects the relationship between husband and wife, priest and penitent, lawyer and client, doctor and patient.

In the most recent high profile case, a federal judge jailed Judith Miller of the New York Times for refusing to disclose her source to prosecutors trying to find out who in the Bush administration leaked Plame's identity to the media.

A parade of media witnesses, lawyers and academics predicted the Plame case would have "a chilling effect" on freedom of the press and said the free flow of information to Americans was under threat.

William Safire, a New York Times columnist, compared Miller to a hostage and said he feared retaliation against her if he spoke out too openly.

"I must not anger or upset those who control her incarceration and who repeatedly threaten to pile on with longer punishment as a criminal unless she betrays her principles as a reporter," he said. "Journalists and reporters are not the fingers at the end of the long arm of the law."

Time Magazine reporter Matthew Cooper, who along with Miller faced jail in the CIA leak case until his source gave him personal permission to testify, said the shield law was not about elevating journalists to "some priestly class."

"Without whistle-blowers who feel they can come forward with a degree of confidence, we might never have known the extent of the Watergate scandal or Enron's deceptions or events that needed to be exposed," Cooper told the committee.

Comey was not at the hearing because he was substituting for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales at a meeting with House Republican leaders on the Patriot Act, a Justice Department spokeswoman said.


Lugar Among Roberts' Donation Recipients

Yahoo! News
Lugar Among Roberts' Donation Recipients

Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts has donated to the political campaigns of several Republican candidates, including one senator who will vote on Roberts' appointment to the high court.

In recent election years, Roberts has contributed more than $3,700 to Republican candidates, including $1,000 to George W. Bush's successful bid for the presidency in 2000.

Roberts, who grew up in Indiana, gave $500 to the 2000 re-election bid of Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., according to campaign contribution reports.

He also contributed $1,235 to the 1998 campaign of Republican Peter Fitzgerald, who defeated Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, a Democrat. Fitzgerald only served one term. Roberts gave $250 to Peter Rusthoven, a Republican who failed to gain the GOP nomination against Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., in 1998.

Much of Roberts' political giving was to his law firm's political action committee. He gave more than $5,600 to the Hogan & Hartson PAC, especially during the 1998 and 2000 election cycles.

In 1998, the Hogan & Hartson PAC made $111,800 in political donations, with more going to Republicans than Democrats. The same was true in 2000; Hogan & Hartson gave $67,000 to Republicans and $37,250 to Democrats.

Roberts' wife, Jane Sullivan Roberts, also contributed $250 to Fitzgerald in 1998. The rest of her political contributions were to her law firm's political action committee. Mrs. Roberts is a partner at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman.

She gave more than $4,000 to the firm's PAC. Unlike Hogan & Hartson, her firm favored Democrats over Republicans in campaign giving, contributing $126,750 to Democrats in 2000 and $78,550 to Republicans. In 1998, Shaw Pittman gave $76,350 to Democrats and $64,000 to Republicans.


Roberts Upheld D.C. French-Fry Arrest

Yahoo! News
Roberts Upheld D.C. French-Fry Arrest

By JENNIFER C. KERR, Associated Press Writer

Judge John G. Roberts' views on abortion may be murky, but there's no question where he stands on the issue of girls eating fries in a subway station.

As a member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Roberts wrote a decision last year upholding the arrest of a 12-year-old girl who violated the ban on eating food on Washington's subway system, Metro.

But Roberts said that while the arrest was legal, he felt transit officers overreacted by handcuffing and jailing the girl.

"No one is very happy about the events that led to this litigation," he wrote. "Her shoelaces were removed, and she was transported in the windowless rear compartment of a police vehicle to a juvenile processing center, where she was booked, fingerprinted, and detained until released to her mother some three hours later — all for eating a single french fry."

Still, Roberts agreed with a lower court ruling upholding the arrest

"The District court described the policies that led to her arrest as 'foolish,' and indeed the policies were changed after those responsible endured the sort of publicity reserved for adults who make young girls cry," he wrote.

"The question before us, however, is not whether these policies were a bad idea, but whether they violated the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution. Like the District court, we conclude that they did not, and accordingly we affirm."

Two months after the arrest, and following a torrent of bad publicity, the transit agency revised its policy and said that children under 18 who committed minor offenses would instead be enrolled in a program run in cooperation with school authorities and other city officials.