Friday, January 27, 2006 

Today Show: Dean Dinged on Dem Dollars from Abramoff Associates

On yesterday's Today show, Howard Dean insisted over Katie Couric's attempts to claim otherwise that:

"Katie, not one dime of Jack Abramoff money ever went to any Democrat. Not one dime."

Confronted by such intransigence, Katie politely observed that "we'll have to look into that and clarify that for our viewers."

That's apparently just what the Today researchers did overnight, and Matt Lauer, with Tim Russert in tow, informed viewers this morning of their findings.

Said Lauer: "We went to the Center for Responsive Politics and technically Howard Dean may be correct but while 66% of the money in this situation went to Republicans, 34% of the money not from Abramoff but from associates and clients went to Democrats."

Lauer asked Russert whether Dems can turn this into strictly a Republican scandal and "wash their hands of this?"

Russert's response was unequivocal, and not good news for the DNC: "No. The issue is broad and wide."

The old adage says not to pick a fight with people who buy their ink by the barrel. The same might be said, Howard, of top-rated TV shows who count their viewers in the 5+ millions. (


Did anyone hear Ann Coulter last night?

We heard she was great...

Wednesday, January 25, 2006 

ARKTIMES: Campaign Espionage?

The Bill Halter campaign is raising questions about campaign tactics by opponent Mike Beebe's organization.

It began with a man who appeared at gubernatorial candidate Halter's speech to Young Democrats at UALR last week. The man -- who said he was a veteran and who said he didn't know much about Halter -- proceeded to ask a list of very specific personal questions that indicated the man knew quite a bit about Halter. Halter took the questions – about his time out of state, where he paid taxes in Ark., etc. Later, through a Halter volunteer, the campaign learned that the same man had apparently sent along an e-mail message to the Beebe campaign about some future political activities by the group that invited Halter to speak. A Beebe plant perhaps? Sure sounds like it.

Then there were the people with video cameras who taped both the UALR event and Halter's announcement Saturday at the Capitol. And members of Beebe's staff in the attorney general's office attended the Halter announcement Saturday. Oppo research is one thing; but planted questions and videotapes? As told by the Halter people, it sounds almost Nixonian.

Bud Jackson, Halter's spokesman, calls it "dirty politics." And he uses it as a handy segue to other questions about the conduct of the Beebe campaign. There were earlier reports about work by Beebe state employees and use of state equipment on state time. Then there's the "double-dipping," as Jackson put it, by Beebe's chief of staff Ruth Whitney. Since January, she's been paid for 30 hours of work at the attorney general's office and paid also from campaign money. This is not illegal, according to the state Ethics Commission, but the general custom has been for state employees to wholly detach from their public offices when helping a boss's political campaign.

Jackson said the Halter campaign "won't videotape Beebe events" and won't send moles to cover Beebe. The Halter campaign is all about a change from the old ways of doing things, he said.

We have a call into the Beebe campaign about this allegation. The e-mail supplied by the man at the UALR event is not operative. We were given a name, but have gotten no return calls so far to a man with that name in the phone directory. So we can't tell you if he was merely an interested Young Democrat or, as the Halter people suspect, a Beebe plant. We can pass along below the Halter camp's photographs of people with video cameras at UALR (left) and the Capitol (right). Maybe they were just shutter bugs or political junkies out on a lark. If they happen to be in our reading audience, we'd like to hear from them... To View Entire Story Click Here

Tuesday, January 24, 2006 

Willett Changes Mind...

State Democratic Party chairman, Jason Willett, who for months had on his vehicle a printed promotion of the gubernatorial candidacy of Democratic Party hopeful Mike Beebe, won't be adding anything promoting the new Democratic hopeful, Bill Halter.
Instead, said party spokesman Bart Haynie, Willett has removed the Beebe promotion.
Haynie said the chairman's statement months ago that he'd add a Halter sticker to the vehicle if Halter got in the race was a bit of humor between Willett and Stephens Media Co. columnist John Brummett. "He wasn't really being serious," Haynie said.
Last Friday, Willett said on a radio program that he thought Halter might not run. That night Halter's candidacy was posted on Halter's Web site.
Haynie said Willett will put on the vehicle a sticker promoting whoever gets the party nomination in the May 23 primary. (ARDEMGAZ)


Asa Hutchinson To Talk Jobs Growth In Siloam Springs Saturday

Little Rock, Ark. – Asa Hutchinson, 2006 Republican candidate forArkansas governor, will address the Siloam Springs Chamber of Commerce
Annual Banquet on Saturday, Jan. 28, at 6 p.m.

The banquet will be held at John Brown University in the main dining room of the Mabee Center (2000 W. University).

Hutchinson will address jobs growth in Arkansas, which he hasidentified as the top priority for his campaign and his top agendaitem if elected Governor. On Jan. 18, Hutchinson launched his GROWARKANSAS statewide jobs tour, during which he will visit communitiesaround the state to talk about his plans for jobs growth and economicdevelopment in Arkansas.

Hutchinson, a native of Gravette, is a former U.S. Attorney for theWestern District of Arkansas, Member of Congress representing thestate's Third District, head of the U.S. Drug EnforcementAdministration and the first-ever Undersecretary of Homeland Security.Hutchinson currently serves as CEO of the Hutchinson Group, a LittleRock consulting firm, and oversees the homeland security division ofVenable Law Firm.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006 

Candidates for state offices file contribution reports

Arkansas News has a complete list of the candidates reports...

Friday, January 13, 2006 

Al Sharpton Running In '08?

Al Sharpton swings through New Hampshire, early presidential primary state

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) _ He's spent time in New Hampshire, but former Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton won't say if he'll run again in 2008.

The minister and civil rights activist avoided party politics during a high school assembly to honor the Reverend Martin Luther King Junior. He encouraged students to further King's legacy of nonviolent activism.

But later in Hanover, speaking to Dartmouth College Democrats, Sharpton's remarks turned political. Sharpton criticized the administration for its response to Hurricane Katrina and domestic spying.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006 

Kerry Workers' Tire-Slashing Trial Begins

Fourteen months after John Kerry narrowly carried Wisconsin in the 2004 presidential election amidst allegations of voter fraud, five campaign workers for the Kerry-Edwards campaign team are set for trial Tuesday in Milwaukee on felony charges of damage to property.

The "Milwaukee Five” is charged with slashing 40 tires on 25 separate Republican vehicles on the morning of the 2004 presidential election. The vehicles were rented by the Wisconsin Republican Party to transport less-mobile voters to the polls on Election Day. In total, the vandals disabled 25 percent of the Republican Party’s "Get Out the Vote” fleet.

The defendants include Sowande Ajumoke Omokunde, the son of Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wisc.) who also goes by the name Supreme Solar Allah; Michael Pratt, the son of former Milwaukee Mayor Marvin Pratt and leader of Kerry’s campaign team in Milwaukee; Lewis Caldwell; Lavelle Mohammed, and Justin Howell.

According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, four of the defendants were paid operatives of the Wisconsin Democratic Party, including Omokunde and Pratt.

Court TV will cover the trial, which is expected to last two weeks. Potential witnesses include Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.), national AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, and 77 others – including FBI agents, Milwaukee police officers, and party activists from both parties.

The five defendants, who will be tried together, are charged with criminal damage to property, a felony with maximum sentences of 3 1/2 years in prison or $10,000 in fines.

The criminal complaint states that Opel Simmons, a Democratic campaign worker from Virginia, identified the defendants as the perpetrators, and told police they had named their plan "Operation Elephant Takeover.”

Simmons told Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney David Feiss that he saw the defendants dressed in "Mission Impossible type gear” at Democratic Party headquarters sometime around 3 a.m. on the morning of the election.

When Simmons asked the five what they were planning, defendant Lavelle Mohammed allegedly responded, "You don’t want to know, don’t ask.”

The defendants returned to Democratic headquarters approximately 20 minutes later. Simmons told investigators they were jubilant and shared details of their vandalism spree with him. "We got ‘em,” said Pratt. "We hit the tires.”

The tire-slashing incident is just one of a number of election-day irregularities in Wisconsin, a state where Kerry prevailed by only 11,384 votes.

Questions have been raised about the inordinately large volume of Election Day registrations in Milwaukee, where 84,000 people in a city of 600,000 registered at the polls on the day of the election. The total represented 30 percent of all voters in the city.

Milwaukee city officials admitted in January 2005 that around 10,000 same-day registrations could not be verified, leaving open the possibility of fraud.

An investigation by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that another 1,200 Milwaukeeans voted using invalid addresses. Another article revealed in late January 2005 that there were 7,000 more votes than voters in Milwaukee, suggesting ballot-stuffing in the Democrat-controlled city. (NewsMax)

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 Anti-Alito Ad Uses Selective Quotes

It cites a study saying Alito ruled to narrow privacy rights. It didn't quote the part saying he's seen as restrained and nonpartisan., a project of the Coalition for a Fair and Independent Judiciary, released an ad suggesting that Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito would endanger privacy rights. It says "an independent analysis found that Alito often goes out of his way to narrow the scope of individual rights." The ad fails to note that the same study also says Alito has a reputation as "a restrained judge who follows the law, not his personal beliefs," and that he is a "near absolutist" on the rights of freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

The ad states that Alito once favored "making it illegal for government officials to get away with illegal wiretapping," and as a judge voted to uphold the strip-search of a 10-year-old girl. We furnish details of those cases.

The liberal coalition released a second 30-second ad on Jan. 6th as part of a six-figure media buy opposing the confirmation of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. We reviewed their first ad here . Ad:

(On Screen: Images of a phone, a medical bed, a neighborhood, and then of Sam Alito with President Bush)

Announcer: Your private conversations. Your personal decisions. If you don’t want more government interference, you don’t want Samuel Alito on the Supreme Court.

(On Screen: A steady side view of Alito facing a scrolling image of several hard-hat covered heads)

Announcer: An independent analysis found Alito often goes out of his way to narrow the scope of individual rights.

(On Screen: pictures of phones)

Announcer: He supported making it easier for government officials to get away with illegal wire tapping. Alito even voted to uphold the strip search of a ten year old girl.
Your rights. Your privacy. Can Samuel Alito be trusted to protect them?

This ad expresses concerns about Alito's record on government eavesdropping and privacy of medical decisions, showing images of a telephone and a hospital bed as an announcer says, "If you don't want more government interference, you don't want Samuel Alito on the Supreme Court."

Selective Quotes
The ad states that "an independent analysis found Alito often goes out of his way to narrow the scope of individual rights." This refers to an analysis by journalists Stephen Henderson and Howard Mintz of Knight-Ridder, which appeared in several newspapers. Their study was indeed "independent" as the ad states, and the authors did in fact conclude that Alito "rarely supports individual-rights claims." But the authors also said Alito has a reputation as a "scholarly, restrained judge who follows the law" and not personal or political beliefs in his rulings. The authors further describe Alito as a strong supporter of free speech and religious freedom. Here is more of what they said:

Henderson and Mintz: Liberal and conservative supporters alike describe the quiet, scholarly Alito as a restrained judge who follows the law, not his personal beliefs . Those who have worked closely with him, including former law clerks and fellow judges, say they can't think of a case in which he took a partisan political stance.
. . . A review of Alito's work on dozens of cases that raised important social issues found that he rarely supports individual-rights claims.

The primary exception has been his opinions about First Amendment protections. Alito has been a near absolutist on free speech, and he has been equally strong on protecting religious freedoms.

. . . In other areas, Alito often goes out of his way to narrow the scope of individual rights, sometimes reaching out to undo lower-court rulings that affirmed those rights.

Getting Away with Illegal Wiretapping?
The ad also says Alito had "supported making it easier for government officials to get away with illegal wire tapping." It is true that Alito once wrote that the US attorney general should have absolute immunity from being sued for authorizing domestic wiretapping without a warrant in national security cases. Alito did so in a memo written in 1984, while serving as an assistant to the Solicitor General in the Reagan Administration:

Alito: I do not question that the attorney general should have this immunity . . . But for tactical reasons, I would not raise the issue here . . . In my judgment, this is not the case to choose . . . The government's interests do not demand that this issue be advanced now. There are also strong reasons to believe that our chances of success will be greater in future cases.
Despite Alito's advice, the Reagan administration asked the Supreme Court to rule that the attorney general cannot be sued for authorizing a national security wiretap without a warrant, and lost.The high court ruled in Mitchell v. Forsyth that former Attorney General John Mitchell didn't have automatic immunity from lawsuits stemming from his ordering of a warrantless wiretap in 1970. Mitchell had ordered eavesdropping on a group that the FBI believed was hatching a plot to kidnap national security adviser Henry Kissinger and to blow up heating tunnels in Washington DC.
Strip Searching a Ten Year Old?
The ad also says Alito "even voted to uphold the strip search of a ten year old girl." We dealt with this in our Nov. 21 article reviewing an earlier ad by this group. Alito did file the sole dissent in Doe v. Groody, opposing a Pennsylvania couple's right to sue local police officers who searched their home, themselves and their 10-year-old daughter for methamphetamines on the basis of a warrant that only specified a search of the premises. Police argued that they had applied for a warrant to search "all occupants" of the house, based on a tip from an informant claiming to have bought drugs at the house, and that they believed that the warrant permitted a search of the girl even if "occupants" weren't specifically mentioned.
The Third Circuit Court of Appeals cleared the lawsuit to go forward – with Alito filing a dissenting opinion. He said that even though he had a "visceral dislike" of such intrusive searches, a "commonsense and realistic" reading of the warrant and the application gave the officers the impression that "all occupants" of the home were to be searched, and that they were acting within their professional duties in searching the wife and girl.

Friday, January 06, 2006 

Political Corruption Is Bipartisan PR Problem

Major parties rated almost equal on several important measures

PRINCETON, NJ -- The plea deal announced Tuesday between Washington, D.C., lobbyist Jack Abramoff and federal prosecutors could be very bad news for the members of Congress whom Abramoff implicates. The long-range concerns are how Abramoff's testimony -- and subsequent actions taken by federal prosecutors -- will affect public opinion of Congress more generally, and the impact on the midterm congressional elections this fall.

One scenario is that the revelations could be toxic for the Republican Party if most of the Congress members Abramoff says he bribed for political influence are members of the GOP, which has been the majority party in Congress since 1995. Alternatively, those fearing the bad publicity -- and those seeking to exploit it -- may find that the public shock value of lobbyist scandals has worn off.

According to a recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, Americans were already widely skeptical about the ethics of members of Congress before Abramoff's plea bargain. Nearly half (49%) of Americans surveyed in the Dec. 16-18 poll said they believe most members of Congress are corrupt, while 46% disagree.

It's reasonable to assume that political corruption is fresh in Americans' minds given the indictment this fall of Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on campaign finance-related charges and former California Republican Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham's admission that he took bribes. But recent public perceptions of the scope of corruption in Congress are no different from what Gallup found more than a decade ago. In 1994, the figures were nearly identical to today's, with 50% considering most members of Congress to be corrupt.

Bipartisan Bribery
While DeLay is the most prominent member of Congress to fall under an ethical cloud in recent years, Cunningham recently admitted to bribery (he resigned following his admission), and former Democratic House Rep. James Traficant is currently serving 8 years in prison following his indictment in 2002 on a variety of corruption charges. Perhaps as a result, Americans seem to view political corruption more as a generic phenomenon than as a uniquely Republican or
Democratic characteristic. The latest poll finds virtually no difference in Americans' perceptions of the extent of corruption among the members of each party in Congress.

Similar to the trend question about the scope of corruption, this measure finds Americans about evenly split between those saying many or all members of each party are corrupt (44% say this about Democrats and 47% about Republicans), and those saying only a few members are corrupt (52% for Democrats and 49% for Republicans). Almost no one thinks that no members of either party are corrupt (2%), meaning that it probably comes as no surprise to Americans that the occasional congress member is charged with wrongdoing.

A more troubling sign for Congress comes from the 2005 trend in public approval of the job Congress is doing. At the same time that Americans were souring on DeLay, possibly because of his mounting ethical troubles, they grew increasingly critical of the job Congress was doing more generally -- although it's not clear how connected these two trends are.

Gallup has conducted frequent measures of public opinion of DeLay since February 2005. As public recognition of the Republican leader has grown, so has the percentage holding an unfavorable opinion of him, while his favorable rating has slipped. In February 2005, 29% of Americans had a favorable opinion of DeLay, slightly more than the 24% viewing him unfavorably. Today, 49% of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of him while only 16% view him favorably.

Of potential concern to members of Congress is the fact that the public's overall opinion of Congress has followed a similar trajectory during the past year. In February, about equal numbers of Americans approved as disapproved of the way Congress was handling its job. As of mid-October, Americans disapproved by more than a 2-to-1 margin (64% vs. 29%). This level of disapproval continued through early December, and represents the lowest support Gallup has recorded for Congress in nearly 10 years (since May 1996).

Importantly, the same trend is not seen in ratings of President George W. Bush. While public disapproval of Bush increased between February and October (from 48% to 58%), it partially recovered in December, and ratings of Bush today are only slightly lower than where they stood earlier last year.

Thus, it does not appear that the decline in Congress approval is part of a larger pattern of public dissatisfaction with the leadership of the country. Whether it is mostly due to bad publicity from DeLay's problems, or from public reaction to other Congress actions like its involvement in the Terri Schiavo case last year, is not entirely clear.
Perhaps even more significant to the Republican Party is the fact that the DeLay case did not shake overall public confidence in the way Republicans in Congress are doing their jobs. Between April and October 2005, the percentage approving of the Republicans in Congress fell only slightly, from 42% to 38%. During the same period there was a 1-percentage point increase, from 40% to 41%, in approval of congressional Democrats.
What's Old is New
The heart of the matter concerning the charges against Abramoff, DeLay, Traficant, Cunningham, and many others who have run afoul of campaign finance laws is that the money changing hands gives special interest groups undue influence in the halls of government.
Americans have long believed that money and politics don't mix well. According to a 1997 Gallup survey, 53% of Americans said that campaign contributions influence the policies supported by elected officials "a great deal;" another 33% said these contributions influence policies a moderate amount.
Furthermore, the same 1997 poll found three-quarters of Americans inclined to believe that elected officials in Washington are influenced more by the pressure they receive from major campaign contributors than they are by the best interests of the country (77% vs. 19%).
And yet, Americans seem resigned to the problem. An October 2000 survey found only 28% of Americans optimistic that major legislative changes could succeed in reducing the power of special interests in Washington; nearly two-thirds (64%) said special interests will always find a way to maintain their power in Washington.
Still, Americans are not willing to dismiss the importance of corruption. Only 12% of registered voters in the Dec. 16-18 poll say the corruption issue will not be important to their vote for Congress in 2006. The majority say it will be very important, including 11% who say it will be "the most important issue" and 44% saying it will be "very important." Thirty-two percent say it will be moderately important.

Despite the partisan furor about the DeLay and Abramoff scandals, there is no difference between Republicans and Democrats at large in their perception of corruption as a campaign issue. Only a small fraction of both groups (10% of Republicans and 14% of Democrats), say that corruption will be the most important issue for them this fall. An additional 43% of Republicans and 45% of Democrats say it will be very important.

Survey Methods
These results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,003 adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Dec. 16-18, 2005. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

3. Next, we'd like to get your overall opinion of some people in the news. As I read each name, please say if you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of these people -- or if you have never heard of them. First, ... How about... [ITEM A READ, THEN ITEMS B-F ROTATED, THEN ITEM G-H ROTATED, THEN ITEM I READ LAST]

D. Texas Congressman, Tom DeLay

7. I'd like to ask you about most members of Congress. Would you say that most members of Congress are corrupt or not corrupt?


8. How many -- [ITEMS ROTATED] -- do you think are corrupt -- almost all, many, only a few, or none?

9. How important will the issue of corruption be to your vote for Congress next year -- will it be -- the most important issue, very important, but not the most important issue, moderately important, or not that important?


Thursday, January 05, 2006 

Law School Deans Sign Letter of Support for Alito

The Truth has obtained a letter of support for Judge Alito from numerous current/former law school deans.

See letter below...


The Honorable Patrick Leahy
c/o Mr. Bruce Cohen
Ranking Member,
Committee on the Judiciary
United States Senate Dirksen Senate Office Building, SD 152
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Specter and Senator Leahy:

As deans or former deans of law schools, we have special interest in the legal system and experience in both the academic and the practical worlds. Deans of law schools oversee the curriculum, help shape the instructional program, and are instrumental in the appointment of faculty who will educate young lawyers. We are deeply invested in the law, in assuring that lawyers enter the profession with full respect for the integrity of the law and for the rule of law.

Our experience gives us a distinctive vantage on the process of selecting and confirming judges. It is from that vantage that we write in support of Judge Samuel Alito.

Over many years of public service as a prosecutor, public official, and judge, Sam Alito has promoted the rule of law and has performed each of these roles skillfully, honorably, and in keeping with the best traditions of the law. He has demonstrated the sort of thoughtfulness, care, and reasoned judgment that we hope for in our faculty and our graduates.

Although we are hopeful about this process, we are distressed by recent attacks on Judge Alito that distort his record and its meaning. Such attacks depart from the sort of civil, deliberative process that Judge Alito and the American people deserve.

Judge Alito’s decisions as a Circuit Judge have been consistently reasonable and in accord with law. Critics have misstated his opinions in cases such as Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Doe v. Groody, and United States v. Rybar, to name just a few. In Casey, Judge Alito voted to uphold regulations of abortion adopted by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, including a requirement that a woman notify her husband. The notice requirement had broad exceptions, including if a woman asserted that she was afraid of her husband’s reaction. This decision was a reasonable construction of the law as it stood at the time. In Groody, Judge Alito concluded that police should not be subject to suit for money damages for acting under the terms of a search warrant and accompanying affidavit. While the warrant was more restrictive, the affidavit specifically said it was necessary to search “all persons” on the premises of a suspected drug dealer. The issue before the court was not whether the search was proper or good policy but whether police should be faced with possible money penalties for acting reasonably on the basis of the warrant and affidavit. Far from upholding the “strip search” of a 10-year-old girl, this opinion reasonably questions the use of damage litigation against police. And in Rybar, Judge Alito followed the path marked by the Supreme Court’s Lopez decision in declaring that while states can and do regulate sales of guns that are not in interstate commerce, Congress can only do so if it makes findings that support the connection of the guns to its authority over interstate commerce. All of these decisions by Judge Alito, whether one agrees or disagrees with the outcome, demonstrate thoughtful and reasoned decision-making and a commitment to legal authority.

Opponents of Judge Alito also have made much of statements Judge Alito made 20 years ago. First, he criticized the use of quotas to enforce equal protection obligations – taking a position that has been accepted by the Supreme Court and the American people. Second, he also criticized the basic holding of Roe v. Wade. Criticism of particular legal decisions is perfectly consistent with respect for the law. And no one, including Judge Alito, can know how he would respond if asked to reconsider a precedent he has criticized. Such questions come before judges in a particular case arising in a particular context and on a particular legal claim. Chief Justice Rehnquist criticized the decision in Miranda v. Arizona, but voted to reaffirm it when the issue came before the Court, concluding that it had become so ingrained in the fabric of the law as to merit continued adherence even if he would have decided the matter differently in the first instance. Judge Alito’s record shows that he decides such matters carefully and thoughtfully within the framework of the law.

We urge the Senate to hold hearings that are respectful and dignified. Based on all we know now, we believe that the Senate should vote to confirm Judge Alito to the Supreme Court.


Honorable Ronald A. Cass
Dean Emeritus & Former Melville Madison Bigelow Professor of Law,
Boston University School of Law
Past President, American Law Deans Association
Former Commissioner & Vice-Chairman, United States International Trade Commission

Bernard Dobranski
Dean, Professor & President, Ave Maria School of Law
Former Dean, Catholic University School of Law

James L. Huffman
Dean & Erskine Wood, Sr., Professor of Law,
Lewis & Clark Law School

Honorable Douglas Kmiec
Former Dean & St. Thomas Moore Professor, Catholic University School of Law
Former Assistant Attorney General of the United States (OLC)
Caruso Family Chair & Professor of Constitutional Law, Pepperdine University School of Law

Thomas D. Morgan
Former Dean, Emory University School of Law
Past President, Association of American Law Schools
Oppenheim Professor of Law, George Washington University Law School

John F. O’Brien
Dean & Professor of Law, New England School of Law

Daniel D. Polsby
Dean & Foundation Professor of Law,
George Mason School of Law

Daniel B. Rodriguez
Former Dean, University of San Diego
Warren Distinguished Professor of Law, University of San Diego

Honorable Kenneth W. Starr
Dean, Pepperdine University School of Law
Former Solicitor General of the United States
Former United States Circuit Judge

As deans, we express our own views, not those of the other faculty or institutions with which we are or have been affiliated.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006 

Risen on Today

Katie Couric's just-completed interview with NY Times Reporter James Risen, who broke the NSA surveillance story and is now publishing his book on the matter, 'State of War,' offered a treasure-trove of insights into the matter.

For her questioning of Risen, give a gentlelady's 'C' to Couric, who earned the bulk of her grade by posing this seminal line of questioning:

"Did [the leakers] have any sympathy or understanding about this new climate this country finds itself in and the criticism the Bush administration took prior to 9/11 for not putting the pieces together and figuring out that a terrorist attack was imminent? In other words, did they acknowledge that tough times may call for tough measures?"

In other matters:

Whether wittingly or not, Risen seemed clearly to tip his hand to the fact that the leakers were disgruntled career employees. People will recall that State Department careerist Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell's former chief of staff, recently claimed there was "a cabal between the vice president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made.''

Along similar lines, Risen alleged that "the checks and balances that normally keep American foreign policy and national security policy toward the center kind of broke down. You had more of a radicalization, in which the career professionals were not really given a chance to forge a consensus within the administration. The principals: Rumsfeld, Cheney Tenet and Rice were meeting constantly, setting policy and never allowing the experts, the people who understand the region to have a say."

Cooed Katie: "You suggest there was a lot of power-grabbing going on."

"Yes," responded Risen, only too happy to concur.

"Power-grabbing?" How is the exercise of power by the people the president explicitly put in charge of foreign and national security policy a "grab"? Only in the minds of the liberal establishment, who believe that power rightly resides with the career 'wets' in State and the intelligence agencies.

As with Wilkerson, it sounds as if at the origin of this leak were career employees, disgruntled at being shut out of the center of the action by appointed officials.

Further to her credit, Couric did ask a question along such lines, stating 'many critics alleged your sources had serious axes to grind."

Time and again, Risen defended his sources as having the "purest" and "best" motives, springing entirely from their concern for the rule of law.

As to whether he was concerned that in light of the Justice Department investigation into the leaks he might be forced to reveal his sources, Risen was quick to claim that this was "the complete opposite of the Plame case."

True, but surely not in the way Risen meant it. The Plame case involved the 'revealing' of the identity of someone apparently already well-known in many DC circles to be a CIA employee, and a desk jockey at that who had not worked abroad in many years. The NSA affair involves the compromising of a current intelligence operation aimed at America's deadliest enemies. (Newsbusters)

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