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February 25, 2007


Do you really believe that the "Off the Record club" is potentially in legal jeopardy and that they could face a trial?

If so, the pioneers and rangers could start their own flag football league...the PFL (Penitentiary Football League).


You are one fountain of information. Just when we finish up with the Case of the Annotated Dowd, here you come with the Mystery of the Off the Record Club.

Ah well, it's better than obsessing about the Libby Trial Jury. If you have a moment, can you reference this: "Ken Duberstein, Off the Record Club member, is the guy who set up the meeting between Armitage and Novak."


Retract that request. Duberstein Novak Armitage were only an inch away on "the Google" - those "Internets!"

Where are you now, Emptywheel?


No, they're not in criminal jeopardy. As private citizens they can pass on whatever leaks they get.

But they might be in civil jeopardy. What business does Hohlt have engineering the outing of Plame's identity? Sure seems like a case for a lawsuit.

Reading about Duberstein doesn't connect me with what I'm trying to figure out. The big question with Armitage is why, out of the blue, did he call Novak and give him an interview?

Armitage met with Woodward on 06/13/2003. Novak says:

Then, without explanation, in June 2003, Armitage's office said the deputy secretary would see me. This was two weeks before Joe Wilson outed himself as author of a 2002 report for the CIA debunking Iraqi interest in buying uranium in Africa.
That puts the call from Armitage to Novak around 06/22/2003.

I know that Duberstein called Novak for Armitage later, but I'm just out of the loop on Duberstein setting up the first Armitage/Novak meeting [my Hubris copy is out on loan].

I'm in the camp that's never really believed the Armitage_is_just_a_blabbermouth theory. It feels more ominous to me - leak to Woodward, soon after call Novak, then leak to Novak. So how does Duberstein fit. It's all very confusing, but intriguing.

Thanks, by the way, for tugging on the Hohlt thread. It's been nagging me since Novak's testimony. You seem to be unravelling a real "good old boys" network...

Appropriate you should mention Nixon in relation to this scandal, but I think you miss the analogy. When Nixon ran for re-election he largely distanced himself from the republican party, abandoning what had been close political friendships. Even before Watergate became an issue, the Republican party was annoyed at him. During his reelection campaign, he ran neither as a republican nor as a conservative, he ran as The President, and for the most part did not come close to providing the kind of help he had to other republican candidates in the buildup to his run in '68. When Watergate hit, he faced an opposition congress and very meager support even among the "party faithful". It feels wierd to say that Bush is smarter than Nixon, but he still has a huge reservoir of loyalty among the faithful, and is, I think, personally still liked by most fo the republican establishment, even those who consider him incompetant fiscally. Bush still has all his heavy hitters, and the task of bringing him down will be immeasurably harder.
The first act of Nixon's second term was to demand signed, undated resignations from every senior member of his administration. Bush is, for the most part, loyal to his crooks... I mean people. If he was as distrusted and disliked as Nixon had been by his people, Torturegate, Plamegate, Wiretapping, secret prisons, each may have been enough to erode his support enough to cripple him. As it is, his friends are largely still his friends, his enemies are still his enemies, and everything can be cast as partizan. The middle has abandoned him, but he no longer needs them.


The specific details about here and now are interesting.

The "they" who haven't changed from Nixon's time is not convincing.

Having said that, there is a puzzle with no published solution, and few published clues. What is the dynamic of the "palace politics" of political insiders (including, especially, donors) with regard to public policy.

My guess is that it is active, but fragmented. Depending upon the issue, different cliques are involved.

And that poses difficulties. All of it is difficult to get information. On top of that, what are the most important cliques? It is a matter of focus.

Larceny and bad public policy are, of course, bad.

But what really worries me are the points when the palace games intersect with foreign policy (especially violent foreign policy) and with subverting the US election process. To me, these seem to be what we should track especially.

Laura Rozen does good work there. Occasionally, Roger Morris publishes something, and it is often interesting.

If you have favorites, then share them.

I think the topics need systematic study. But I do not have any good idea about how it could be done.

Actually, I think your idea about concentrating on the names of the prestigeous groups of donors is a good start for a systematic study. Some single website where detailed info about each person and their associations (moderated to restrict info to solid info) would probably have value.

Anyway, I think you have identified an important problem for research, but the flip "same system since Nixon" does not advance the ball, in my view.

Plus, my guess is that the rightwing establishment sabotaged Nixon. "They" were not Nixon, and did not approve of SALT or the approach to China.

Lizard is right about Nixon's 1972 strategy. Remember, his campaign organization wasn't Nixon '72 but the infelicitously named "Committee to Reelect the President" or CREEP.

When you consider that under the GOP the country seems to become a kleptocracy, is it any wonder that people who stand to get even richer under the GOP would engineer their victories by any available means?

lizard and Mimikatz

Points well taken, both of you. Though I'm curious who you would say the Off the Record Club serves. Bush? Cheney? Some (ha!) higher principle?

It serves the ends of power, as decided upon by the consensus of the membership. If Chimperor Bush should fail, even for a moment to serve the ends that they see as power, they will certainly turn on him and turn to Jeb. Sort of the opposite of WoodStein's Follow the Money, Bush's goals may well be phrased Empower the Money. One would think they already have enough money, but we peons still have a little bit they have yet to steal. Makes one sorta nostalgic for the days before Communism had proven itself an unmitigated failure and wealth redistribution was not yet a dirty phrase, if ever there was such a day.

I should just shut up.

But I can't help myself. I do not think that general statements about "kleptocracy" and "any means necessary" advance the ball, particularly. (Though I respect Mimikatz immensely for her many fine posts over many, many months.)

Yes, the kleptocracy, but not necessarily some inner ring of string pullers at election time.

Nixon raised money to win elections. Roger Morris described him raising California oil money in the 40s to "spring out of nowhere." Morris implies, but does not prove, some sensational fund raising in the 1950s.

Nixon sold ambassadorships. He bargained an anti-trust settlement to ITT. There was some Lockheed scandal. The milk producers. Howard Hughes allegedly sent a million. George Bush senior allegedly had a network of Texas oilmen, connected to Stans, that was almost revealed during Watergate. Dahlberg was a bigwig at ADM, and his check was laundered through Mexico to pay the Miami cubans.

But how much was key to the 1972 election? Racism, generational resentments, fear of disorder, and an unwillingness to accept defeat even in an unpopular war were plenty to fuel a landslide for Nixon.

The corruption was routine. And the Dems have their own checkered history of raising money to campaign. Roger Morris tells interesting stories about who funded the early campaigns of Big Bad Bill.

The really worrisome cabals are the ones like Abramoff, where corruption and foreign policy intersect. Also, Dusty Foggo and his crowd.

And, of course, Cheney, Rumsfeld and their crowd.

Anyway, palavering aside, I agree with EW. I would like to know much more about Hoult's group.

In short, THEY don't serve HIM, he serves them. And pretty well, too. Has there been a single act, a single moment, when he has NOT served the end of enriching the hideously wealthy? He is their tool, and they are just polishing him up to get the most use before they coronate the next tool. (didn't really intend the vaguely sexual allusion, there, but I like it)

put another way

I think there are routine cliques of influence peddling, but I do not think that the Plame outing was routine. I will be surprised if run of the mill pioneers were on the inside.

Cheney ran Libby. But who was Cheney talking to?

For all the excellent sleuthing on the blogs, I suspect that we are a long ways from knowing the story.


Didn't a large contingent of Nixon's support also come from South Florida? I would start by looking at the Pioneers and Rangers who come from that part of the country. They might also have something to do with the selection of Mel Martinez as the new head of the RNC. How did Martinez get the job? Who were his chief backers?

Patrick J. Fitzgerald -- Closing Argument Transcript

"Let's Get Busy..."

DISCLAIMER: This is from my mouth to a court reporter's ears - there might be a few typos here and there, or me misspeaking - tempted to edit...I did not. ;)

Mr. Fitzgerald: Good Afternoon.

The Jury: Good Afternoon.

Mr. Fitzgerald: Madness, outrageous, the Government brought a case about two phone calls with no corroberation, two witnesses, nothing to back it up and they just want us to speculate. The defense wishes that we were so.

Saying it, saying it loudly, saying it pounding the table doesn’t change the facts, doesn’t change the law and doesn’t change the evidence. Let’s talk about the facts. Let’s get busy.

Let’s look up there. Is this case about two reporters and two phone calls, that’s it, nothing? They wish it were so. This case is not a one-on-one he said/she said. It’s a he said, he said, she said, he said, he said, she said, he said, he said, she said, he said and the defendant made it up.

Each of these people talked about conversations. You’ve heard about conversations where they discussed Wilson’s wife. Is this world’s greatest coincidence that nine conversations with eight people, all misremembering the same way, that the defendant is talking about Joseph Wilson’s wife? MORE


Boy, EW, you've hit on it. It's definitely a 'family affair' with deep, deep roots. I have wondered about this 'Pioneer' stuff for a while now, but I did not know about the "Off the Record Club". Between these guys and that conservative evangelical bunch that has been dictating policy in their weekly get-togethers, the American electorate has been neatly cut out of the whole process of running the country.


George Smathers, senator from Florida, was a Nixon friend going back to the 1950s. Murky stuff hinted at -- trip with Smathers to Havana casino that seemed out of character for Nixon -- but nothing proved that I have ever seen. I think Smathers introduced Nixon to Bebe Rebozo.

Rebozo was Nixon's bagman. No decent biography of Rebozo that I have ever seen.

The Miami Cuban-American paramilitary types (small percentage of Cuban-Americans) formed an odd society. Some of them used border running skills, and contacts, to run drugs.

Cartaya (sp) and cronies were involved in banks, money laundering, fraud, land deals, etc. in the 1980s.

Somewhere in that social mix, there was a character who hooked up on some sort of shady HUD deal with Jeb circa 1988? 1980s. Scandal ensued, but Jeb overcame it.

The ex-CIA guy caught in the absentee ballot in Martin County in 2000 was Jeb's representative on some HUD commission.

Martinez was first appointed to HUD.

If there are dangerous EW cliques influencing foreign policy, then one place I would look would be banking/real estate. Also, small private airlines (renditioning, whatever) are an old favorite.

I'm with mickey. The Duberstein-Armitage callout is just too smack to ignore. What say you EW? Was Armitage an unwitting blabbermouth or an eager tool of the Club in his out-of-the-blue gabfest with Novak in June 2003?

I was just reading the Vanity Fair article about SAIC. This post makes me wonder what the intersection of Pioneers/Rangers is to SAIC. It seems to me that this company is at the center of everything corrupt. They don't get as much attention as Halliburton and Blackwater because so many of their contracts are on the black budget, and they try to stay out of the spotlight. But the VF article gave me chills, I was thinking, this is the reason for all of it...


What the hell is going on with the jury??? Explain it to us, Marcy!

They're down an art curator, working with 11 players. Wells wanted to stick with 11 rather than get the obviously pro-Prosecution African-American or the other alternate who wasn't vetted as thoroughly.

That alternate must be blatently biased -- the defense would almost always prefer 12 to 11.

One of them is--African American, by all accounts sympathetic to the Prosecution. So he'd have a 50-50 chance at getting her. But in general the alternates were vetted less closely for hating Dick, so even the other alternate is a bigger risk than the people still on the jury.

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