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November 08, 2005


Surprise! Trent Lott still wants Bill Frist dead!

Surprise! Trent Lott wants Bill Frist dead and he's not above "using torture" to do it!

I was kind of thinking this is going to be a Rorschach test. Anyone can make of it what they want to achieve their political ends. But the whole thing is led by McCain who, I assume, means what he says about torture.

Well, no wonder they were so apoplectic about going into secret session! They were worried they'd all be busted because they know they can't resist talking to reporters.


I think that van's going to your head. You've got RepubliSpeak down perfectly.

I asked this question over at Clemons' place, but I have a longer track record of pestering you guys.

Is it likely that Lott thinks he has an idea who the leaker is? (Actually, Lott almost HAS to have an idea who it is; even a wounded old bull can't just indiscriminately talk to CNN.)

If he knows who it is (presumably one from among McCain Hagel Graham Warner Lugar Specter), and if that leaker is in any kind of hot water, did he just screw somebody over?

Obviously he's made Frist look silly for a day or two. But did Lott just nail, say, McCain or Graham, by narrowing the field of potential leakers enough that the focus will move naturally toward the real culprit? And again, is whoever leaked this in any kind of real difficulty now?

Also ablington asks the same question at dKos, with an extra focus on McCain. Who, of course, is also on record as saying he "learned this from the WaPo article," which statement is now inoperative, thanks to Lott.

Who's really gotten screwed here?

I've assumed in these questions that the Senators are authorized to know, and Cheney was authorized to disclose, this information.

Just so I've got this straight: we're going to investigate who leaked the information about secret torture prisons, but we're not going to investigate the secret torture prisons themselves?


Steve Clemons takes that on here.

Fishy fishy fish. (Apologies to Tery Jones.)
There can be no doubt (to use the immoral words of the Big Dick himself) that Lott's performance crated an hilarious spectacle. And I do hope that Lott's instinct is correct and that at least one source for the Dana Priest article is a Republican Senator or Senate staffer. But I'm getting a distinctly fishy whiff from Lott's statements. First of all, taking Lott's statements at face value (perilous, I know), he is basing his belief in the GOP origin of the story on the coincidence of the article coming out the day after the black sites were discussed at a GOP-Senator-and-Cheney luncheon putsch and the similarities between what was related in the meeting and what Dana Priest reported in the Post. It is a hell of a co-inky-dink, to be sure. But I have a number of problems with the Lott scenario:

The Post article simply does not look like something that was dashed off in less than one day on the basis of a leak from a Senator or hill staffer. To the contrary, looking first just at the substance of the thing, it appears to be a throughly researched piece, with a great deal of background and context woven into it, not simply a wad of Capitol Hill dish. Moreover, even allowing for some of the, shall we say, vagaries of how reporters describe anonymous sources, the piece is sourced variously to: "U.S. and foreign officials familiar with the arrangement"; "current and former intelligence officials and diplomats from three continents"; "officials familiar with the program"; "current and former and U.S. and foreign government and intelligence officials"; "four current and former officials"; and, more specifically, in some instances to "a former senior intelligence officer who worked in the CIA's Counterterrorist Center"; "another former senior CIA official"; and "a senior CIA officer." If we were dealing with Judith Miller rather than Dana Priest, I might be less credulous, but I'd say it is very safe to say that Priest has at least four sources, probably more -- at a minimum, two distinct former CIA officials (part of the Goss purge, no doubt), one current CIA official (that's one brave hombre), one or more current or former State officials. I would like to think that there's somebody at Justice with a conscience and a set of cojones as well.

I listened to Dana Priest's interview on the Diane Rehm show last week, and in it Priest convincingly and credibly painted a picutre of a story that has been long in the making, based on disclsoures from a variety of long-cultivated sources. She was rather cagey when asked why those sources suddenly decided to talk about the black sites; her response was that it was due to the dogged pursuit of the information (or words to that effect), which is certainly tantalizing. But I was convinced -- especially having read the article -- of her veracity on the matter of the article's development.

None of this, of course, excludes the possibility that one of Priest's sources was a GOP Senator or Hill staffer. Indeed, some of the information reported smells like it might have come from the Hill (e.g., "[t]he CIA and the White House . . . have dissuaded Congress from demanding that the agency answer questions [about the treatment of CIA-held prisoners] in open testimony" or "[m]ost of the facilities were built and are maintained with congressionally appropriated funds, but the White House has refused to allow the CIA to brief anyone except the House and Senate intelligence committees' chairmen and vice chairmen on the program's generalities"). But what I have briefly cataloged above certainly leads me to doubt that a Hill souce -- if one does exist -- was anything like the prime source for the piece.

It also is possible that Lott knows more than he is letting on and that he actually does have some inside info on a GOP leak. But color me very, very suspicious. Let's hope Lott's not handing the Democrats a boomerang.

(I've cross-posted this comment as part of a post on http://thegingerman.blogspot.com. I do hope that is not a breach of comment protocol. If so, please delete and accept my apologies.)


Good points. Although Priest comes into something like this with a good deal of background. Is it possible she had done a lot of research and then got a kind of greenlight? As I pointed out, she (or the WaPo) followed someone's directions not to name Poland and Romania. Which suggests she might, also, follow someone's request to hold off on the story.

One other interesting point is that Priest didn't respond, AFAIK, to requests for comment since Fristie's little stunt. Perhaps that's because she's trying to avoid a first amendment fight. But perhaps not.

One more question. Do we know that McCain was at the meeting last week? If it was designed to talk everyone out of McCain's amendment, would you invite McCAin, particularly since he could speak so much more credibly about torture than Cheney can?

God. It's so hard to separate stupidity from intent here. I smell all kinds of rats.

I believe one of you warned of a red herring storm to change the subject from the run-up to the war.

Yeah the "greenlight" theory or some variant of it appealed to me as well (though I didn't mention it so no full credit, dammit). But I have trouble spinning it out in a way that makes sense -- unless the stuff about multiple sources from different agencies and three continents is pure malarkey. If she had the bulk of the info independently from CIA and State sources (I'm making an assumption here, but I think soundly), then why would she need (or allow) a Hill source to determine whether and when to pull the trigger? It could be that she felt the need for the information to be confirmed by the Hill source, but that doesn't quite add up for me either. I just don't know.

I don't know if McCain was at the Munich-beer-hall luncheon that Dick cooked up, but I do know that he told CNN this morning that the Post article was the first he had heard of the black sites (sorry, I don't have a web link). If I didn't hallucinate that, it raises interesting possiblities, to wit (1) McCain lied on CNN, and is (a) a source for the article, or (b) simply a lying shill and a phoney-baloney reformer (not out of the question, as McCain is in fact a lying shill and phoney-baloney reformer); or (2) McCain was shut out of the meeting (more likely, as I'm sure Cheney doesn't trust him at all right now).

For the second day in a row, Chris Matthews took on Dick Cheney for most of his show. He as much as suggested that Cheney orchestrated Libby's leaking. He had Cheney denying to Gloria Borger something that he had said on MTP (and Chris played the tape). He said that many in the WH were not impressed with the elevation of Addington, and more and more R's feel that Cheney has gone overboard. Also, Tom de Frank was on and said that Bush was really feeling misled by Cheney these days. No one has been more wrong than Cheney, about every issue he has touched. He is really over the edge and into the abyss. Elliott Abrams fighting the good fight? Who'da thunk it. As I said yesterday, there are an awful lot of anti-Cheney stories coming out in the last week or so. Hard to think it is coincidence. I think the whole thing is unraveling.

In case everyone hadn't yet heard the good news: Kaine beats Kilgore in VA. Very very nice. Publius has some links and a little post. Hooray.


Don't know if you saw McCain on the Daily Show. But he did no indicate one way or another whether he was at that meeting. Kind of changed the subject. So, still no answer to that.

Priest's sources are almost certainly CIA. Although she has really really good military sources as well (her book, The Mission, is worth it). But she's also fairly respectful of security issues. So it is possible she waited for the green light. As I said, she didn't publish Poland's name (although it was the first country I guessed), which says she's listening to someone's limits on what she says.

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