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February 13, 2006


Very interesting. I've noticed the Repubs love to put female faces on their worst deeds, to cushion the blow, as it were. Cases in point: Condi, Matalin, Comstock, Tori Clark, and the latest, Armstrong. The thinking is that the press won't ask the women the hard questions. For the most part it works because the press is still predominantly a male bastion. None of these women have real authority, which is always preserved by Cheney and Rummy. The Repubs have to periodically move these women into different positions. Notice that Matalin was used by Cheney for the hunting fiasco. They only bring her in when therer is a real disaster. Tori Clark is resurfacing again with a new book. . . Of course Karen Hughes is back with a real no-power position at State, a permanent "listening tour" of the world. Condi's been reduced to reorganizing the State dept., moving offices hither and yon. She sure hasn't focused like a laser on problems in the middle East or anywhere else, has she? She's made Madeleine Albright look pretty good though, hasn't she?

This is just rampant speculation on my part: As we know, Comstock helped direct Republican opposition research. She was highly valued for her skill at directing teams of lawyers to investigate people and then use the information to smear them. Could part of Comstock's role at DOJ have been to generate info/spy requests to obtain sensitive information about the administration's political opponents or other people the administration might want to "motivate" into cooperating?

I am glad TNH and FDL are beginning to shine the spotlight on Comstock. Please keep it up. I am very certain as you dig that more will be uncovered. Its time to seriously unmask the structure and players of the abuse and corruption of the regime.

I agree zanzibar and it also illuminates how the WH and Rethugs treat real journalists who take their responsibilities seriously.

I think Comstock is a rosetta stone to this tight little group of Rethuglican operatives and should be dissected very throughly indeed.She likes to dish it out, let's see how she takes it. Like most cowards and bullies, a solid blow to the jaw and she will cry like a little girl. She has probably never experienced having her record and life 'flayed and displayed' for all the world to see.

The Rethuglicans have much to fear from the Blogasphere because it is an instantly accessable, permanent record of their sins and crimes. A chronicle and log which they can never be sure of who downloaded the articles and posts against them and hence they can't be sure that these records have been erased from the public record, they could reappear at any time. They have lost control of the dialog.

Great stuff emptywheel, you have a six-sense on all things Gooper.

Lichtblau is a reporter who threatened them because he can conceptualize his questions from a perspective that throws light on what the DOJ is actually doing. That is, he thinks, broadly.

Very early on in our no fly list case, before there was really any conventional media narrative about the list, Lichtblau interviewed me about it. Several other reporters had done some good digging. But he was by far the best at knowing that whatever this thing was about, it was not about whether two individual peace activists could fly (we could, sometimes with hassle) but instead about what kind of lists of people various federal agencies were compiling on the basis of what criteria. Many reporters had trouble getting from the particular to the general implications; Lichtblau started there.

thanks for a very interesting and informative column.

i wonder what a sociogram (network map) would show of these operatives.

might there be only a couple dozen or so key individuals like cheney, addington, libby, comstock, rove, abrahmoff accoustomed to working with each other on whatever dirty deed needed doing at the moment?

or echelons of operatives?

Thanks for that perspective, janinsanfran. And for Lichtblau's troubles, he lost his press pass (temporarily).

I spend a lot of time badmouthing the shitty work of a lot of the MSM reporters. But when you read someone's work from an entire 3-year period, you can really tell whether they're worth the ad revenue that pays their salary.

Lichtblau is.


Great post, thanks for doing the work.

oh my...this is absolutely amazing work...great job as usual

i guess we're lucky Comstock quit...otherwise forget about a year's delay we may never heard of the NSA spying

orionATL: " wonder what a sociogram (network map) would show of these operatives.

might there be only a couple dozen or so key individuals like cheney, addington, libby, comstock, rove, abrahmoff accoustomed to working with each other on whatever dirty deed needed doing at the moment?"

Whatever else it might show, it shows the need to jail the underlings as well as the ringleaders when there's malfeasance and/or corruption. Many of the same people involved in Bush43 bad behavior also were involved in Iran-Contra but skated.

Ooooooh, interesting... Go emptywheel...

This sure as hell works for me (Comstock's attempt to cut Lichtblau off from his DoJ sources having to do with Lichtblau getting a peek at the internal dissent at DoJ associated with the domestic spying program). Evidence of that dissent has certainly surfaced in various other bits of the storyline (Comey's doubts, Ashcroft being consulted in the hospital, the irritation that some of the FISC judges had with the WH and DoJ, etc etc) so we know it existed and that it wasn't just a few easily identified malcontents.

So Comstock would have been trying to prevent Lichtblau from getting at the deeper story (the surveillance program itself) and if possible to identify his sources. "Don't talk to Lichtblau" edicts are just what you'd expect to see as one arm of a pincer movement, with career threats as the other. Ordinarily I'd view kaleidoscope's speculation as implausible (public affairs department requesting surveillance data? ridiculous!). But with the Bushies, well geez, every time you think they can sink no lower...

More to the point though we're really getting a better sense of Comstock's MO in general, and what we might expect to see her do with the Libby case. Things like "discovery" are clearly very much her specialty. She's not really a PR person at all -- she's an enforcer of sorts, but her forte as an enforcer is detective work and blackmail, not leg-breaking. Think Wilford Brimley in "The Firm" if you've seen that movie. That's her to a tee.

Just the reference to Libby's "Iran-Contra counsel" says it all, doesn't it? These bastards have been screwing the United States and thumbing their noses at the rule of law forever. And they keep turning up like bad pennies.

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