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August 19, 2007

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One has to wonder how they kept this effort so coordinated and focused. In my work as a project manager, it is, to use the old expression, somewhat akin to herding cats. Congress persons have many varying demands for time and attention, which would require everyone who was supposed to be involved to stay on track (or be kept on track).

At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theory nut job, there had to be some backdoor communications going on somehow. Were congressional officials using RNC email for back channel communications? Did they have a secure website for collaboration?

In my opinion, some of the activities have just been too well coordinated, and I have to wonder if some form of electronic communications was taking place off of any official government servers.

In other words, the RNC and GWB email servers were not used only for US attorney matters.

Keep this in mind if Davis runs for Warner's Senate seat, assuming Warner retires.

Soujourner

That's a very good question, not least since Tom Davis appears to be one of the Republicans who realized the NIE story was a cover story and firewall designed to protect Bush. He went out of his way to try to help them solidify that firewall, too.

The back channel communication was definitely used in the US Attorney firings, the vetting of replacements, and the general containment of damage / questions. I have racked my brain trying to remember who the woman was who testified about using the alternate channels (and how she expressed it). Some of those involved said it was just easier to use their RNC / GWB email accounts, or that they got them mixed up, etc. I just have to wonder at that, though.

With all of the activities that have gone on to coordinate RNC control of our government, and even create a 'shadow' government (and even a 'shadow' DoJ that circumvented Ashcroft and Comey), there was a lot of planning and coordinated effort required. I suspect there was a lot more going on through back channels than has been revealed. The RNC / GWB email servers are just the beginning...

EW, the link for "NIE story was a cover story" does not seem to work...

Sojourner, I've thought the same thing. Learning that Rove was probably creating, overwriting, and deleting all manner of server subdirectories, email accounts (plus hosting Ohio ballot tallys on RNC servers) -- shed new light on why Bu$hCo is so consistently obsessed with secrecy: subverting FISA, controlling surveillance, controlling insta-declassification. As their criminal activity (and legal jeopardy) have grown, it's critical for them to retain full control of all information and communication technologies.

Their modus operandi repeatedly set up parallel systems that mimic, then overtake, their host organizations. Look at how they set up the Office of Special Plans within the Pentagon (to subvert military intelligence). Look at how they set up 'Black Ops' CIA sites in other countries (to subvert Congressional oversight). Look at Iran-Contra.

These were all coordinated; and it's clear that they want to keep them hidden from laws, public opinion, or any other kind of accountability. They need to stall on Congressional Hearings, control judgeships, and control FISA and surveillance. Your point is a good one.

reader of TeaLeaves: You mean I am not a nut job? ;-)

There was a lot of speculation a few weeks ago about an anonymous poster who was posting on various sites. In the end, I think the consensus of opinion was that it was actually several people -- and some may have been trying to cause some misdirection.

I happened to read one of those earlier posts, though, over at TPMM, and the poster was asking some real pointed questions about what investigators should be looking for. What grabbed my attention was this person's knowledge of the apparent use of Information Technology by the other side. I work in IT, and a lot of what the person posted really rang true as to how it was all carried out.

With Rove's departure, I suspect that we are seeing the last of their communications system being dismantled. Rove was the geek who could have dreamed it all up, and probably would have directed its operation and use. All of the stonewalling has been to allow time to dismantle it all and erase what could be erased.

There have to be other persons, though, who know what was going on...

Thanks for your post...

mimiK

that was the first thought that crossed my mind when i read e'wheel's discussion of davis.

maybe davis was just getting out in front of the bad news and admitting up front what he did prior to a campaign.

then, a year from now it will be

"old news"


unless, of course, you weren't a signatory to the "old news" treaty.

(or to al gore's insane promise in 2000 not to criticize bush "personally".)

Sojourner, I missed the strange comments about IT in weeks back. Although Rove worked with direct mail in the 1970s and 1980s, I recall those technologies -- and they weren't rocket science. I'm not convinced he's all that geeky or technically curious.

However, there's a theme that seems to repeat itself since 2000: the Bu$h administration holds 'career' public servants in contempt (whether at the CIA, the FBI, the military, or even NASA and NOAA). At the risk of hearing a limb crack loudly while I go far out onto it, I'd posit that if you come into office with contempt for career civil servants, and you believe that the CIA, the military, and the courts all need to be 'reconfigured', then it probably seems "efficient" to set up your parallel servers, email systems, and collaborative websites to subvert the actions of people you don't respect.

Rove always uses innuendo and ambiguity as his shields. Until the Dems get him under oath, and phrase their questions in a way that leaches out all possibilites for ambiguity, I don't think they'll make any headway in uncovering Rove's parallel, 'shadow' system. I think the Dems would have to 'think different' and take a lot more preparation time, to hone their questions into a format that limited Rove to single-word responses (and failing to follow that 'one word response' rule would have to result in the contempt of Congress).

One of the areas of ambiguity that it looks like Rove is using is some kind of hocus-pocus around the digital/analog shift in communications technologies. As near as I can figure, this is the same 'gray' area that the WH using to bamboozle Congress on FISA and the NSA. Much of the legalistic loop-de-loop seems to show up around technologies that were analog up through the 1980s, and became digital technologies in the past 10 years. The WH seems to argue (behind the scenes) that the 'digitizing' of phone, email, etc means that it's now somehow 'different' -- and therefore no prior laws need apply. The WH seems to claim that the old rules to (analog) phone and (analog) fax and (analog) teevee are no longer operable, b/c of digitization. I think this is preposterous, bullsh*t claim, but I don't see the Dems calling the WH out. However, this is the only TECHNICAL line of discussion that explains why the Dems seem to repeatedly kowtow to the WH on communications and technology issues.

So if Congress is being bamboozled by Rovian claims that he's 'complying' with the Hatch Act, because he'll somehow claim that a (digital) Blackberry message is something DIFFERENT FROM an (analog) phone call -- and that the (digital) Blackberry message is somehow 'exempt' from the Hatch Act -- then Rove evades responsibility for politicizing politics. Unless Congress starts asking questions like:

There was a server: true? or false?
There was more than one server: true? or false?
The server had 100 accounts on it? (less than? or more than?)
Of these accounts, 80 were overwritten: true? or false?
Of these 80 accouonts, 75 were held by WH employees: true? or false?
Of these 75 employees... yadda, yadda...

Wish they'd ask EW, or Friar William, or any number of the other commenters to help them draw up such a list of questions.

As long as Rove can answer evasively, he's a free agent.
Until Congress nails that snake to one-syllable responses, he'll continue to slither free.

To figure out what that parallel system is, how it was paid for, who maintained it, who had access (with what permissions levels?), etc, etc, etc would probably require that the Congressional Hearings focus much more on questions phrased to limit Rove to single-word responses, for which there is ONLY ONE POSSIBLE INTERPRETATION.

In all other scenarios that I can fathom, Rove slithers free by means of evasions. To uncover and reveal the communication system that we both assume is lurking out there somewhere would require that a Congressional Committee put a lot more time into question preparation than any of these people are probably used to spending. But that type of questioning mode would certainly offer a clear contrast to Rove enablers like Tom Davis. (God forbid, the Dems might even look like something other than 'yakkity-yak' was being accomplished in one of those Congressional Hearings. Yikes!)

I'm not optimistic Congress will figure it out any time soon, nor do I assume that such a thing could ever actually happen in my lifetime. But I agree with Sojourner that there IS a 'parallel system' in place; uncovering, it would require a completelly unconventional, almost code-centric approach that I doubt the Democrats will ever master. Certainly not in my lifetime.

Long comment; needed to think about this topic for other reasons, so appreciate your indulgence.

rOTL

Part of the problem here may be that Congress, as individuals, and possibly as a whole (and maybe as a hole, also), is woefully ignorant of current technology. I think most of them can understand e-mail, and they might be able to use Google to find a website, but the other workings are Mysteries of Great Power to them. (I'd bet there are a number of them that have trouble using a keyboard, and probably also typewriters, because those are for secretaries.)
Possibly we need to have mandatory classes in Teh Intarwebz for Elected Officials, starting with the basics of e-mail and search engines, and getting into servers and networks in the last couple of sessions.

readerOfTeaLeaves: I agree with you wholeheartedly! Your thoughts are very cogent.

I suspect that Rove, and others, have taken this whole scenario into account: that the complexity and technology alone will forestall any serious investigation. In order to investigate, one would have to know the right questions to ask.

When the Libby trial was going on, there was a lot of frustration that the traditional media were not picking up the story and running with it. Again, the complexity of the issues, the ambiguities, the fine lines of distinction all combined to prevent that from happening. Even if the traditional media had taken the time to report a lot of it, I suspect that it would have gone over the average person's head.

Where I am going is that everything that they do seems to walk a very fine line between legal vs questionable. The technology aspect, the coordination, just adds a further layer of complexity to it all.

I agree fully -- our cowardly Congress must learn to nail the questions down so that there is no room for interpreting the responses...

PJ Evans, Bullseye. (And I'm by no means in the Illustrious Realms of Tech Priesthood. All the more reason to grumpily conclude that if I can figure some of this stuff out, then WTF is with the Dems in Congress?! Sheeshhhhh!!! )

Sojourner; I think that it took more courage and toughness than most in the press possessed to figure out the Plame Affair players, the sequence of events, and then construct a narrative that would make it sensible to busy consumers in a hectic society. Plus, I think they have been afraid of Rove, Cheney, et al.

But the collective silence, following that Novak column in July 2003, was unsettling. Thus, were the blogs born, as so many of us reacted: ""WTF is THIS about?! Isn't this a Time of War? Isn't 'outing' a CIA agent a c-r-i-m-e?!" And then Mr. Smoke 'Em Out, GWB hisself, made his belligerant, swaggering 'promise' to fire anyone involved... He baited the press, yet they did absolutely nothing to expose his administration -- other than, in Judy Miller's case, offer to go to jail on his behalf. Stupifying. (To this day, I gag when I think of GWB's insolence to all the FBI and DoJ employees who worked on this case -- I still find it shocking.)

However, it's alarming the way that Congress seems to be absolutely mystified by tech issues, particularly with respect to FISA, NSA, and telecom whining. Prediction: the first 10 Democratic candidates who can explain the legal, political, and social implications of recent technical shifts (analog --> digital) will probably be in a strong position to raise significant campaign donations. I doubt there's a prayer in hell for Republicans to do the same, as they're precisely the a$$hole$ who have used these shifts to subvert the econosphere, civil rights, and willingly hand over the Toobz to the telecoms.

I have no crystal ball, but that's what my tea leaves suggest, FWIW.
If you have an inside track on where I can find a crystal ball, do let me know ;-)

Keep this in Mind - Davis was head of the RCCC when Delay and Abramoff were running things. He was the money behind the power. Marci - we hear in Davis's district VA - 11th have been waiting for someone to blow the lid on this guy. He keep just under the radar.

Many many many great articles from Andrea Chamblee on Raising Kaine and Daily Kos.

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