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July 08, 2006


Oh, we're totally getting oversight and subpoena power, no doubt about it. Isn't there anything else we can give away in order to take over the reins of this most impotent branch of government?

This is how they treat Republican efforts at oversight.

Is it possible that what they lost with Goss' departure is the opportunity to influence how money is spent? As far as slush funds go, covert money is the best money.

Nice article. Want to thank you for posting stuff like this because this is the exact reason why I started reading blogs about Washington politics. I knew nothing about the motiviations behind what people in DC were saying and what they were doing. Thanks for breaking things down a bit.

Not saying that this is what is going on...but could Hoekstra be a bit pissed that he found out that the administration was indeed spying on individual members of Congress?

Did you read the whole letter, emptywheel? The original is on the NYT site, reachable via a small, sortof unassuming link. Nothing in your post made it obvious to me that you had found that link and read the original, although obviously maybe you did. Anyway, here's the link: text of Hoekstra's letter to Bush.

To my exceedingly untrained eye, the letter and particularly the order and depth in which subjects were discussed makes me think that the real point of the letter was to register sharp objection to Hayden and especially Kappes, whose appointments were generally seen as a complete rejection of the whole Goss/reform-and-neuter-the-CIA project. Hoekstra was pissed that the efforts at "reform", GOP-style, were over. After taking a swipe at Negroponte, he then mentions that he can fuck over the Admin if he wants to, cause he knows they're not briefing him fully and he can make them look very bad if they dont account for his stated interests. It looked like complaint-complaint-threat was the format of the letter.

On the other hand, Lichtblau took the parts of the letter that were interesting to him and his running narrative of Admin secrecy, and made it the core of this article. That's fine, because the threat and the facts behind it are rather more interesting than the fact that Hoekstra doesn't like Kappes (and Democrats).

After reading your post another time, I'm pretty sure you didn't see the letter. I don't think you would have written

"But why complain about Kappes, who by all accounts is one of the sane ones? And why would Kappes' lack of cooperation with the Administration cause an end to the collaborative reform between the House Intelligence Committee and the Administration? I'm stumped."
if you had, although hell, maybe those were rhetorical questions.

Back to the letter: he's pissed about Kappes, he threatens the president, and he asks for briefings pronto... why is the letter being leaked now, by whom, etc?

Also, I'd been wondering for a while if the whole Cunningham leak chain was a way to get at Foggo and, um, Goss's chief-of-staff, I forget his name, who also played "poker." And thus Goss. I was trying to figure out the circumstances in which the San Diego Union Tribune started investigating Cunningham's real estate deals, when I found the wikipedia article on Copley News Service. Needless to say, this paragraph caught my eye.

In the late 1970s, reports began surfacing in the American media that the Copley Press was being used as a front by the Central Intelligence Agency. Reporters Joe Trento and Dave Roman revealed that James S. Copley, who served as publisher until 1973, had cooperated with the CIA since its founding in 1947. They also reported that a subsidiary division, Copley News Service, was used in Latin America by the CIA as a front. Further, they revealed that reporters at the Copley-owned San Diego Union and Evening News spied on antiwar protesters for the FBI. At the height of these operations, at least two dozen Copley employees were simultaneously working for the CIA. James S. Copley was also involved in the CIA-funded Inter-American Press Association.

Interesting, eh? Am I the last one to know that too, or is that news to anyone here? The Pulitzer for the Cunningham investigation was given jointly to the Union Tribune and Copley News Service. Do we know who started investigating Cunningham and why? Also when; was it after the Goss-Wilkes-Foggo coup? And would that be separate from the "Revolt of the Elders?" (What is that anyway? I have a hunch that it's separate, and aimed at DeLay-Pombo-Doolittle-etc, rather than Cunningham-Lewis-DuncanHunter-Goss-etc.)

I just went WAY off-topic, but that penultimate paragraph in emptywheel's post is one of the first times I've seen anyone here talk in this direction (Cunningham as the entree to Wilkes/Goss). Josh Marshall and/or Larry Johnson might have before, I can't recall. But I think it's an interesting subject, obviously.

TexasDem, the letter is very interesting - particularly this:

"I am convinced that this politicization (of the CIA) was underway well before Porter Goss became Director. In fact, I have been long concerned that a strong and well-positioned group within the agency intentionally undermined the Administration and its policies. This argument is supported by the Ambassador Wilson / Valerie Plame events... I have come to believe that Mr Kappes may have been part of this group"
Wilson and Plame as rogue CIA?

Hoekstra is on Sibel Edmonds' Dirty Dozen Whistleblower list because he wouldn't listen to whistleblowers - and now he is complaining that he found out about this secret spying program outside of normal channels. go figure.

I interviewed Sibel during the week about the Dirty Dozen (will publish on Monday). The reason that Hoekstra is on the list is because he sat on Russ Tice's story (NSA - Special Access Programs (ie deep 'black')).

I'm only guessing here - but it appears that Hoekstra was happy to sit on Tice's story until Goss got booted out, and then it got urgent for him all of a sudden. That supports some of the speculation that others here have been engaging in.

Damn it lukery, you beat me to it.

This is all very interesting. I don't think we know all the players. I have my suspicions but this article tells me (because there is so much mysterious about it) that the train is leaving the station and we probably will know soon.

I keep thinking that an OP was succesfully run against the CIA. And we are now seeing a jujitsu move. And Hayden is there because he has the collected intelligence about the OP.

'pologies tryggth.

a very interesting piece of the puzzle is whether the letter was leaked by Hoekstra-friendly folks, or unfriendly. that would give particular insight to the nature of the jujitsu.

as an aside, i had to laugh that that chair of the House Intel Committee is so anonymous that the nyt needed to write: "Mr. Hoekstra (pronounced HOOK-stra) "

texas dem

Nope, in my "tired and about to go to sleep" state last night I missed the letter. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. And thanks for the comments--I think you're right on the money. This is about the House losing control of the "reform" of the CIA, not any concern about domestic surveillance.

I have heard questions about who ordered the investigation, btw, maybe from Cannonfire? The idea is that the SDUT, run by one terribly conservative faction, was taking out another terribly conservative faction. But the Vanity Fair article this week made it sound like the DOJ investigation of Cunningham preceded the SDUT investigation.

The WaPo has a story but they miss the Plame tidbit, the politicized CIA, and the emphasis on House oversight of reform.

FWIW, I am going to tell myself that the letter was a late add to the website, becuase my first thought upon reading the story was "Where's the letter?", and I didn't notice it.

what I found interesting is this bit....

According to Hoekstra, Kappes resigned after Goss told Kappes to reassign his deputy because "Mr. Kappes and his deputy, Mr. Sulick, were developing a communications offensive to bypass the Intelligence Committee and the CIA's own Office of Congressional Affairs". What that actually means is this... Keddes and Sulick refused to allow the work product of the Directorate of Operations to be subject to the partisan manipulations of Goss prior to it being presented to the Intelligence Committee. Keddes and Sulick were fighting for the integrity of the DO and making sure that its work was not filtered through right-wing partisans, which is why Jane Harmon insisted that her support for Hayden was conditional on Keddes being number 2 at the CIA.

The administration went along with this, because it didn't want Hayden's nomination to become controversial -- he was, after all, the guy behind the NSA wiretapping scandal, but managed to sail through his nomination hearings with little objection from the Democrats. Keddes was the price exacted by the Dems for giving Hayden a pass...

I love p.luk's theory, but... surely Hoekstra would be well aware of the kabuki ritual. Does he make this his first point just so that somewhere he is on record as opposing Kappes directly to Bush? Then why this letter, which was not *really* on the record, since it was ostensibly confidential?

And, per the Wapo, Hoekstra's objection to Kappes is not really news:

Much of Hoekstra's letter to Bush outlined the chairman's objections -- which were widely known -- to the appointment of Stephen R. Kappes as CIA deputy director under Hayden.

But the basic theme - Hayden for Kappes, so the Dems get their own private conduit to the intel - makes sense.

Check TruthOut for a new Leopold story on Libby. Mainly, you want his link to the 129 page transcript of the May 16 hearing - after a super-quick glance, Cooper as a bum witness is one theme.

And a bonus - the defense suggests that Libby reversed his Russert and Cooper conversations. I have no idea where they think that takes them, but some of the specific perjury counts would be cleared up.

OK, what is the short annotated story-line again? Because I'm trying to synthesis the above and I'm not coming up with something that makes a lot of sense.

- Hayden and Kappes were a package and Hoekstra bridled. Why not just put forward a less controversal pair? Or actually, just a less controversal DCI?

- Why on earth would Hoekstra refer to the Wilson/Plame issue as politicization? Is this a reference to a timing resistance the Admin may have hit in the DO when they sought to declassify her NOC status?

- The letter was put forward when all the pieces were in place. But it sure seems Hoekstra got nothing for his efforts. Why did the Rep. leadership cave after letting the Admin know their position?

Why on earth would Hoekstra refer to the Wilson/Plame issue as politicization?

You don't want to know.

Why on earth would Hoekstra refer to the Wilson/Plame issue as politicization?

Well, what are the alternatives? Seriously. Look at this from Hoekstra's point of view, and keep in mind that it goes against human nature to think of yourself as the bad guy. It's a psychological issue as much as anything, and, pace Tom, it's not so much that you don't want to know as that Hoekstra doesn't want to know.

Suppose there's an "Old Hands" faction at the CIA and State which was -- and apparently still is -- deeply unhappy with the stovepiping, the defense/intel contract fraud, the politicization of intel, etc. These are the exact policies (if you can call them that) that Hoekstra's "House of Fraud" faction has encouraged and benefited from, both financially and electorally, by virtue of their alliance with the Neocons in OVP and DoD. Eventually they even got one of their guys into the top spot at CIA. The bottom line is that the Old Hands have been interfering with the House of Fraud and the Neocons' gravy train ever since it really got going after 9/11. But Hoekstra not only can't say that out loud, he can't allow himself to think it. Because that implies that the Old Hands, and not his own faction, were the ones promoting the interests of the country as a whole.

If you're a Republican and you want to keep your partisan worldview intact, then Wilson and Plame have to be bad guys somehow.

And to follow up on radish's explanation, the way the Republicans pull the mental jujitsu that makes them the good guys and the professional intel community the bad guys is by saying "the CIA is at war with the Administration." By which they mean "the Administration won 51% of the vote, so anyone who opposes them, for any reason including "professional standards," is opposing the democratic will of the people." The President is the good guy because he won, and all his opponents, of whatever motivation, are bad guys because they're opposing the guy who won.

Presumably the CIA is supposed to lay back and let itself be stovepiped and manipulated by Cheney, and anything other than that is resisting democracy.

They won an election for president, damnit, not the Mandate of Heaven.

Well, I don't know if I would get so abstract as to say that "If you're a Republican and you want to keep your partisan worldview intact, then Wilson and Plame have to be bad guys somehow - the "somehow" is pretty obvious.

But let's hand the mike to Walter Pincus of the WaPo:

Pincus believes that the Bush administration acted obnoxiously when it leaked Valerie Plame’s identity, but he has never been convinced by the argument that the leaks violated the law. “I don’t think it was a crime,” he says. “I think it got turned into a crime by the press, by Joe” — Wilson — “by the Democrats. The New York Times kept running editorials saying that it’s got to be investigated — never thinking that it was going to turn around and bite them.”

The CIA criminal referral (news of which was mysteriously and illegally leaked to Andrea Mitchell) *may* have been part of the hype process attributed by Pincus to Dems, Wilson, and the NY Times.

Bonus Annoying Quote - Dana Priest (a Bush fan?) on the damage done by the leak (last November):

Dana Priest: I don't actually think the Plame leak compromised national security, from what I've been able to learn about her position. As for my article, we tried to minimize that by not naming the countries involved and, otherwise, no, I don't believe it compromised national security at all.

Or more for Priest fans from this spring:

Now we are reading that Valerie Plame was involved with tracking nuclear proliferation/capabilities in Iran. Isn't this old news? (I seem to remember reading this same thing quite a while ago in the MSM - I don't generally read blogs)

From what you hear, was Ms. Plame working on Iran, how important was she to the tracking efforts, and how much has her "outing" really set us back?

Dana Priest: It was reported before that she worked on proliferation issues for the CIA. The leap in this new round of information is that her outing significantly impacted our current intel on Iran. I don't buy it. First, no one person who quit clandestine work four years ago is going to make that big of a dent in current knowledge. But also, nothing like this came up at the time of her outing and I believe it would have. Think we need some actual details. At present it just doesn't smell right.

Not all of these views have been widely disseminated by the talking heads, media, etc. For example, I am pretty sure the Olbermann/Matthews/Shuster Axis of.... never mind; I am pretty sure they overlooked some of Priest's thoughts.

(Drivel. I said it.)

Tom, what's your point exactly? Is it really that Plame and Wilson can legitimately be regarded as 'bad guys'[1] compared to Hoekstra et al or Cheney et al, because Plame et al, as well as many other persons not including Walter Pincus or Dana Priest, may have greatly exaggerated the consequences of Plame's outing?

My assertion was that deliberate and ongoing demonization of the "Old Hands" is a psychological imperative of sorts for (most) Republicans, regardless of how lame the factual grounds for it might be. How is the amount of damage Plame's outing did relevant to that? Your terribly vague comment seems to be an innuendo that Plame and Wilson are indeed some sort of 'bad guys' on the grounds that they (or somebody else) may (or may not) have exaggerated the effect of Plame's outing. As far as I can tell that just supports my assertion with an example.

Unless of course you're referring with shorthand to some more explicit argument that you make elsewhere?

Are you maybe trying to suggest that the Wilson/Plame faction tried to undermine the war in Iraq because it somehow benefitted them either personally, or in some sort of turf war with the neocons? Are you suggesting that they were getting their jollies destroying a once-proud nation while the brave Prince and his wise Vizier were trying to protect it from the evil terrorist hordes?

Spit it out, man, this is the internet. Marketplace of ideas.

[1] I meant 'bad guys' in the sense of putting their own interests ahead of their sworn duties, not in the sense of eating babies. I would also like to note for the record and possible future conversations that it was you, not I, who mentioned Dana Priest as a potential arbiter of whether or not national security is being damaged.

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