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April 12, 2007

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Despite all these developments, Marcy, you don't seem at all confident that Waxman and others will get anywhere with oversight or holding Rove and the rest of them to account. The entire cabal will stall, and stall, and obfuscate until the very end. But that's business as usual in Washington, right? That's the reality. And there apparently isn't a damned thing anyone can do about it.

EW;

I know Sarbanes/Oxley is specific about email retention for
publicly traded co's, but I think it has some application here.
Why is no one even discussing the possible legal ramifications?

I think this is going to blow up on them. Waxman is eventually going to get fed up and ask, "Why don't we have the requested information?" The only answer they can give is something along the lines of, "Hey, we're busy people, and this is a time-consuming process." That's an invitation to Waxman to send a team of people over to 'help' them get all of the requested records together.

EW here is a question: Does the legislature's power of subpeona also include the power of search warrrant? I have read here or at FDL that the house Sargeant at Arms has the legal authority to arrest the president. Should we infer that the SAA also has the legal right to seize hard drives?

There is probably no need for a confrontation between the house's SAA and the secret service to sieze HDs in the WH. Seizing the HDs of gwb43.com would not require a confrontation with the SS and will probably yeild enough info to convict 20 people for obstruction.

I was wondering some time ago whether Carol Lam's sudden service of subpoenas on the newly-Democratic Appropriations Committee staff with regard to the MZM/Cunningham/Wade scandal was politically motivated. Then she got fired. Now I wonder whether she was digging too aggressively into MZM, or whether her subpoenas -- which were regarded as a major pain in the ass and mis-targeted to boot -- were a last ditch effort to save her job.

Nina Tottenberg had an interesting story this morning on Morning Edition. Seems that some weeks ago one of the Tax Law committees in the House subpoenaed the DOJ's Bureau of Prisons to produce a convict in California who had run a rather sophisticated idenity theft and tax return scam, to which he pleaded guilty, and is currently serving time. The committee wants to question the convict on the details of his scam (he is an evangelical Preacher, and ran the scam out of his church) -- because they want to make certain the Tax law they are reviewing covers properly.

Well, DOJ said they could not talk to the convict, and they went into court and argued what Nina characterized as the Unitary Theory of Government. DOJ lost, and decided not to appeal, so today the Tax Committee is supposed to have the US Marshalls produce the convict for a hearing. What makes this interesting is the attempt to make the case for non-cooperation on Unitary Government legal theory -- and the fact that they lost the argument.

Such an obscure case -- such an obscure story, but in deciding not to appeal perhaps DOJ is realizing that they haven't a leg to stand on. Just imagine the argument -- you can't have access to the details about a Tax Law Scam as you study whether a revision of law is appropriate!!! I think the Unitary Government folk just had their asses handed to them.

Kagro

She probably made a last ditch effort to get more into her indictments. But there was no way she was going to be able to save her job. She had already been fired, and given that DiFi already knew Lam was fired by January 8, I doubt there was any hope of saving her job. The case, maybe. But not her job.

DiFi knew. DOJ knew. But did Lam? She probably knew she was in disfavor, but I don't think at the time that any of the USAs knew just how serious the situation was, and that their fates were sealed. Witness their panicked e-mails pleading for clemency.

Sara, it's interesting on how many fronts this is being waged at once. The Department of Education is similarly stonewalling an investigation of the Science and Technology committee. But no indication yet whether they'll regard the this Bureau of Prisons case as controlling.

OT: Novak's column today. I have to read him twice just to get through all of the parsing, but skip down to paragraphs 7 and 8, which say that a CIA lawyer personally wrote that Valerie Plame "was a covert employee of the CIA". General Hayden, the director of the CIA, told Novak, "I am completely comfortable with that." Now read the Headline: "'Covert' Confusion at the CIA". Um, where's the confusion here? It all looks pretty clear-cut to me.

Sara,
I heard that story on NPR too. I wondered to myself, "Self, what precedent were they trying to set in preventing convicts from testifying in front of Congress? What other convicts might they want to prevent from providing testimony?"

Thanks for posting the story!

Kagro

Oh, Lam knew. THe others may not have (though I doubt that--I'm quite certain Chiara knew as soon as they told her, though she was likely in denial about how her party had sold her out to corruption so easily). But Lam knew, I'm quite certain. Not only did she immediately set about puuting the indictment to bed (as far as she was able), she also immediately went about escalating it.

Of course, Lam also knows how costly her firing was, whereas the others didn't have as much invested in the Gun Lake Tribe/Renzi indictment/Blunt indictment etc.

Between your post and Greenwald's (http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2007/04/12/lost_documents/index.html) today, I think a case has been made for the U.S. House of Representatives to open an investigation into whether high crimes and misdemeanors have been committed. I'll see what my representative, Rep. Peter Welch of Vermont, thinks about the matter. aaargh! IMHO this Administration is shamelessly corrupt!

Subpoena'ing prisoners? How about Abramoff? He would have a few stories to tell and much light to shed on Karl's schemes. Looks like we've got a precedent.

I don;t see how they keep all these plates in the air and fight a war too. no wonder they are looking to outsource that to a Tsar.

Is my Sarbanes/Oxley question OT? Just asking.

BTW, on the discussion a couple of threads below, I think Kagro is too pessimistic. Remember: the Dems have only had Congress for 3 months plus a few days, and look what has been uncovered so far.

Rove miscalculated in 2005 how much the Dems would fight back, hence the Soc Sec debacle, which led to the Katrina fiasco etc. They made the same miscalculation about the new Congress, and are now scrambling to hide everything they can. But there is just so much, and there are more scandals waiting to come out. There are people like EW and Josh Marshall connecting the dots for the lazy press, plus some enterprising reporters at McClatchy and the LA Times.

The press prizes access, but even more they prize the scoop, the big story. Shortly the herd mentality of the press will drive them onto the BushCo stories, and the bloggers, who are always a few steps ahead, will egg them on and point them in the right directions. Waxman, Conyers, Leahy and the rest are just getting started.

We can't forget the backdrop for all this--the incredibly unpopular war and Bush's loss of credibility with everyone but his true believers, plus his being conjoined to even more unpopular positions like stem cell and global warming denial (just look at the drooling coverage our Gov Arnold is getting, siomething Bush could only dream about).

If they don't decide that they have to attack Iran as a diversion and use their own Samson option, I think that more and more is going to come out until it reaches an intolerable level. I don't know whether at that point Pelosi says, well now things have changed, the I-word has got to be on the table, or the GOP survivors will push Bush back to Crawford like in the duck book Laura had at the Easter Egg hunt or the holy blood clot takes Cheney down and oaralkyzes Bush or what, but I don't think that Bush is going to make it to 2009 still in office.

Compared to how slowly Watergate unfolded, this has all come out at lightning speed. We all just forget (or weren't fully aware then).

semanticleo, I don't think S/A has any application to government activities- it's targeted only at publicly traded corporations. Pity, as it would open one more chink in the armor. I could see this uproar over the missing emails (and make no mistake, it's an uproar- witness Pat Leahy's speech before approving NEW subpoenas this morning ) leading to a kind of S/A compliance rule for government too. Of course, the Presidential Records Act was supposed to accomplish roughly the same thing. It doesn't matter what the law is if people are determined to ignore it.

And ew/kagro, I always saw the last-ditch Lam subpoenas to Congress as a kind of signpost for the very investigations that are going on now. It was Lam's way of saying, "Look, they fired me, but I know where a lot of bodies are buried: and if I wanted to see them come up, these are six places I would start digging."

Mimikatz, I credit the speed of all this to informal networks some of our Democratic Members, and particularly the staff to Democrats have in the "permenant government" or the career professionals, that have probably kept members and particularly staffers informed over the years. You know a staffer to someone on Judiciary lives next door to someone in FBI who is bothered by the flavor of the agency -- or someone in the Department of Education belongs to the same church community as a staffer dealing with education issues, and they are both on the same religious ed committee. There are thousands of such relationships -- particularly between upper level but non political civil servants and congressional staffers who deal with policy for Senators and congresscritters. So as of last November, they were not starting from zero. From what I hear there is a huge layer of disgust directed at the Bush Appointees, and it quietly works in our favor right now.

I agree. And that is why I think this is only getting started, and that there are more ways for it to end than going to court and losing.

I don't think there's any end to the amount of startling information we can uncover. All you have to do is turn any part of the Bush "administration" over and start shaking.

The question is whether we're ever going to move beyond the stage where we just keep refreshing our outrage by finding stuff. Meaning, are we going to punish anybody for this?

That's where I get pessimistic. I don't need to learn that they're corrupt. I already know that. I knew it in Iran-Contra, too. And all I got as a souvenir was a committee report saying I was right.

Yea, I was pessimistic last fall when it seemed to me some Democratic Campaign efforts were a bit limp -- but not any more.

You never know which story of corruption is going to move which person. And to get to the point where Bush is either out or given some sort of Regency (Jim Baker as Chief of Staff) -- we have to get many more people asking the "Can He Govern" question. Right now my guess is it is between 55 and 60, and I think it needs to approach 75% for action to be taken. (By the way the "Can He Govern" question is far stronger than just personal approval or popularity or even trust.)

Remember, one of Nixon's lesser sins was cheating on his income tax -- but in terms of moving the "Can he Govern" question -- that actually moved the largest group of neutrals and weak supporters into the negative column. Thus the need to give all sorts of slices of public opinion their own issue around which to rally. We are hardly there yet. Remember there are still millions of people who do not use computers or use them rarely -- and for them Dogate E-mail has little salience. Iraq tragedy probably moves the greatest number of former Bush supporters (and the Green Zone bombing today will shake them) -- but other matters still have to develop.

Over at FDL today someone posted a link to the Western Missouri USA firing -- very interesting that it seemed to be about a prosecution for medicare/medicade fraud, and it linked the San Diego Lam firing to the same sort of fraud prosecution. That was also true in Heffelfinger's case, he had a major league investigation underway regarding United Health Care -- a Federal Grand Jury investigation expanding on a State Attorney General's investigative efforts. I'd like to see this developed in greater depth -- was Medicare/Medicade Fraud the common link here? Why? -- was this part of trying to destroy Medicare/Medicade (with it's 2% administrative costs) in line with the Norquist theory of sending Government sponsored Health Care down the bath-tub drain? Was it to offer a "for profit" privatized alternative? Easy to do if you cut the Medicare/Medicade budget and then open the gate to fraudsters. Now I don't know that this is the reason for firing USA's -- but I do know there was a reason, a strategy, and it is only when we comprehend that and get it told as a narrative that people will see the loss of E-Mail was for a damnable reason.

There is another huge issue just a shadow on the Horizon, and that's Andrew Cuomo's investigation of the Student Loan Program. This is an issue that dates back to Bush I, it is very complex, and shoots in hundreds of directions, so just a sketch of what I know. Part of the problem is kickbacks. Colleges that push certain lenders have been taking kickbacks for over a decade. They give Presidents a nifty leased Lexus on 0$ terms -- perhaps the Director of Admissions, perhaps a few other administrators. There are trips to fancy conferences in the right location at the right time of year. Hawaii has its appeals in January. Rarely are the kickbacks anything that benefits students who, in their loan repayments pay for all this. But beyond that, Student Loans are a huge source of Republican Electorial Cash -- the lenders contribute huge amounts to the RNC and the Leadership PACS, and the management of these PACS is with Deborah Pryce of Ohio. It is not unusual for a new Freshman Republican in Congress to get between 50 and 70 thousand from these PACS -- which is why they never vote to control terms on Student Loans, and at the same time are trying to make the Clinton Era Direct Loan program non-competitive. I wish Andrew Cuomo well with his issue -- I have been looking for someone to take it up since the Clinton Reforms were abdicated after 1994 and the Contract on America. Right now they are just chewing around the edges of the issue -- but it is huge... a multi-billion dollar scandal. But there is a whole lot of truth in using Open Source and following the donations to PACS, votes, and campaign donations of the major Student Loan lenders. The right research leading to a powerful detailed article could move many a college campus to deal with the kickbacks in their own midst, and a powerful fight against those sponsoring this rip off.

So we still have much progress to make in getting every society segment their own set of issues that lead to that "Can he Govern" question.

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