Thursday, July 19, 2007

Plame lawsuit dismissed in CIA leak case

Plame lawsuit dismissed in CIA leak case

By MATT APUZZO, Associated Press Writer 14 minutes ago
WASHINGTON - Former CIA operative Valerie Plame lost a lawsuit Thursday that demanded money from Bush administration officials whom she blamed for leaking her agency identity.

Plame, the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, had accused Vice President Dick Cheney and others of conspiring to disclose her identity in 2003. Plame said that violated her privacy rights and was illegal retribution for her husband's criticism of the administration.
U.S. District Judge John D. Bates dismissed the case on jurisdictional grounds and said he would not express an opinion on the constitutional arguments.
Bates dismissed the case against all defendants: Cheney, White House political adviser Karl Rove, former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby and former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.
Plame's lawyers said from the beginning the suit would be a difficult case to make. Public officials normally are immune from such suits filed in connection with their jobs.
Plame's identity was revealed in a syndicated newspaper column in 2003, shortly after Wilson began criticizing the administration's march to war in Iraq.
Armitage and Rove were the sources for that article, which touched off a lengthy leak investigation. Nobody was charged with leaking but Libby was convicted of lying and obstruction the investigation. Bush commuted Libby's 2 1/2-year prison term before the former aide served any time.
"This just dragged on the character assassination that had gone on for years," said Alex Bourelly, one of Libby's lawyers. "To have the case dismissed is a big relief."
Plame and Wilson pledged to appeal.
"This case is not just about what top government officials did to Valerie and me." Wilson said in a statement. "We brought this suit because we strongly believe that politicizing intelligence ultimately serves only to undermine the security of our nation."
Though Bates said the case raised "important questions relating to the propriety of actions undertaken by our highest government officials," he said there was no legal basis for the suit.
Lawyers have said courts traditionally are reluctant to wade into these types of cases, particularly when Congress has established other resolutions.
In this case, Bates said, Congress passed the Privacy Act to cover many of Plame's claims. Courts have held that the Privacy Act cannot be used to hold government officials personally liable for damages in court.
Bates also sided with administration officials who said they were acting within their job duties. Plame had argued that what they did was illegal and outside the scope of their government jobs.
"The alleged means by which defendants chose to rebut Mr. Wilson's comments and attack his credibility may have been highly unsavory," Bates wrote.
"But there can be no serious dispute that the act of rebutting public criticism, such as that levied by Mr. Wilson against the Bush administration's handling of prewar foreign intelligence, by speaking with members of the press is within the scope of defendants' duties as high-level Executive Branch officials," Bates said.
Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, said Rove was pleased to have the case behind him.
"The risk of being liable for personal damages is not something anybody takes lightly," Luskin said.

Clinton: No Military Victory in Iraq

The former president is in South Africa with The Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative.

(ABC News)
From GMA
July 19, 2007

In South Africa battling the AIDS crisis, former President Bill Clinton weighed in on the battle that's consumed the Senate this week: whether President Bush should pull U.S. troops out of Iraq.

All night Tuesday, Senate Democrats tried to convince Republicans to pass an amendment calling for withdrawal from Iraq. Meanwhile, over the past two days, several U.S. generals on the ground in Iraq, including Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Peter Pace, have said they see signs of progress. Pace said he's seen "a sea change" in parts of Iraq. But Clinton doesn't believe a U.S. military victory can be had.

"The point is that there is no military victory here," he said exclusively to "Good Morning America." "I believe that Gen. Petraeus is a very able man. And I don't have any doubt that they'll win some battles. And I hope this works. I think every American hopes this works. But it can't work beyond winning a few battles. … It has to be accompanied by progress on the political front."

Clinton said Bush can buy time for his Iraq strategy through the summer, but that will change when officials re-evaluate the situation in September.
"The president has weathered the challenge in the Senate because of the filibuster. As long as he can hold more than 40 senators, he can stop the Senate from voting for a change in course," Clinton said. "But in the end, September will come and it won't be long."
Backing Up His Wife

While the former president is working with his foundation, his wife, Sen, Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., is hitting the campaign trail hard. The former president rebuked Elizabeth Edwards' recent suggestion that Hillary Clinton wouldn't be as good an advocate for women as Edwards' husband, presidential candidate John Edwards.

"I defy you to find anybody who has run for office in recent history who's got a longer history of working for women, for families and children, than Hillary does," he said. "I don't think it's inconsistent with being a woman that you can also be knowledgeable on military and security affairs, and be strong when the occasion demands it. I don't consider that being manly -- I consider that being a leader."

Clinton: No Military Victory in Iraq 12Next

Our crap politics: Senate sleepover fizzles; Update: “I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s horrendous”;

Our crap politics: Senate sleepover fizzles; Update: “I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s horrendous”; Update: Reed-Levin fails, 52-47; Update: Congressional approval at 14%; Update: Reid pulls entire defense policy bill
posted at 9:38 am on July 18, 2007 by Allahpundit

So after all the pants-wetting over a promised blowhard blowout all-nighter, Reid let them go home. Most of them, anyway:

Although Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) initially warned that votes on legislation to withdraw combat troops could occur at any time during the night, he agreed shortly after midnight to delay even procedural votes until 5 a.m. and to put off until 11 a.m. a vote on legislation to bring home most troops by May.

That meant most senators could grab a few hours of shut-eye, so long as a few remained in the chamber at any given time to continue a debate which offered little, if any, movement toward resolving the stalemate over how to end the war.

Hillary stuck around to follow McCain after his speech ended at 4:10 as part of her “impress the nutroots” initiative. Meanwhile, a fitting capper to this stupid, loathsome spectacle:
No sooner had Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that there would be no procedural votes between midnight and 5 a.m., then a mass exodus of senators started as many legislators headed to their cars to go home for some much needed sleep. As the senators streamed towards their cars in the Capitol parking lot, TV cameras spotted a rowdy group of Code Pink protesters greeting them with jeers and cheers, depending on the senators’ stances on the Iraq war…

Poor Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, was not only heckled by the people in pink, but also lost his car in the dark Capitol parking lot. After minutes of wandering around aimlessly with a policeman by his side, all the while being jeered by the protesters at every turn, Stevens finally found his car and headed out into the night.

Bob Schieffer’s verdict on the sleepover: “It pretty much widened the partisan divide.” Of course it did. Go read what the Iraqi ambassador and a colleague of his have to say about withdrawal, noting especially the comment about the “fuzzy thinking” behind Baker-Hamilton. That’s the plan that’s going to win over the Republican fencesitters to the Democrats’ side. The Iraqis seem to think we shouldn’t even bother.

Update: Bush doesn’t need congressional approval to implement Baker-Hamilton, as far as I know. If he decides that’s how he wants to go, he simply pulls most troops out, tasks the ones who are left with hitting AQ and protecting trainers, and that’s it. He’s already pursuing one strand of B-H’s recommendations without any input from Congress; if it ever comes to the point where they have the votes to force his end, I suspect he’ll simply beat them to the punch by adopting B-H himself and then pretending like he wanted to do it all along.

Update: It’s come to this:
The office of Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) dispatched interns to buy toothpaste, toothbrushes and deodorant for delivery to GOP leadership offices, with a note offering the “supplies for your sleepless night.” It added: “Help us bring an end to this war.”
Update: Most of them — Reid, Durbin, Ike Skelton, etc. — won’t speculate on the consequences of withdrawal. A few of them — Murtha, Biden, Lynn Woolsey — think it won’t be that bad.

Some of them fear the worst, though, and are prepared for it.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s horrendous,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman David R. Obey (D-Wis.), who has helped spearhead efforts against the war. “The only hope for the Iraqis is their own damned government, and there’s slim hope for that.”…
[W]earied by U.S. casualties and pessimistic about the chances that American troops could stop a full-blown civil war, many lawmakers are resigned to letting Iraq’s communities fight it out.
“It will grow,” predicted Oregon Sen. Gordon H. Smith, one of three Senate Republicans backing the Democratic withdrawal plan. “But it will burn itself out. That’s how civil wars are fought. That’s just the brutal truth.”
Update: Confirmed — the sleepover was a complete waste of time. 52-47 on cloture.
Update: Fourteen percent. Adjusting for the usual leftward tilt of most Zogby polls, that means the actual favorable rating is about -11%.
Update: Our crap politics — having failed to get his up or down vote, Reid throws a tantrum by yanking the entire defense policy bill from the floor.

If McCain leaves a hole, can Giuliani fill it?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007
If McCain leaves a hole, can Giuliani fill it?
Surely all the Republican candidates will try to capitalize on the misfortunes of Senator John McCain's presidential campaign, which some pundits argue is on life support after two underwhelming fund-raising quarters. But Rudy Giuliani seems to be aggressively filling the void, or trying to, by announcing a slew of hires, endorsements, and field organization improvements.

In the last few days, Giuliani's campaign has unveiled teams of supporters in Georgia, Iowa, and California; he's announced his Justice Advisory Committee, led by Ted Olson, a former US solicitor general; and he's opened offices in Lexington County and Charleston County, SC.
One interesting aspect of all this is that Giuliani is making a big show of his efforts to woo some pretty conservative parts of the country, which gets to the heart of the question surrounding his candidacy: Can a pro-choice, pro-gay rights guy from Brooklyn win a Republican primary? Look for reports from Giuliani's visit today to conservative northwest Iowa.
Mitt Romney, meanwhile, returns to South Carolina tomorrow for another "Ask Mitt Anything" event in Spartanburg and a barbecue in West Columbia. And Fred Thompson is reportedly hosting a fund-raiser on the Cape this Saturday.

Posted by Scott Helman, Political Reporter at 05:55 PM

Oh-eight (R): Shifting CW

Oh-eight (R): Shifting CW
Posted: Thursday, July 19, 2007 9:07 AM by Mark MurrayCategories: ,

The New York Times’ Nagourney writes a conventional wisdom shifting analysis of the GOP field, noting how Romney and Giuliani are changing their strategies in the aftermath of McCain’s downfall and the rise of Thompson. Of note, Nagourney reports that Thompson will announce just after Labor Day. "Anticipating Mr. Thompson’s entry into the race, Mr. Romney’s advisers said they had begun examining Mr. Thompson’s record and plan to highlight his work as a trial lawyer and Washington lobbyist." Meanwhile Thompson aides confirmed that "Thompson intended to present himself as the most conservative candidate in the race and would go to South Carolina as part of his announcement swing."
In Iowa yesterday, Giuliani renewed his pledge to appoint "strict constructionist" judges, which are important code words to social conservatives. He also promised NOT to have an abortion litmus test. In addition, conservative mag Human Events interviewed Giuliani's chief legal advisers, Ted Olson and Steven Calabresi, on Rudy's judicial philosophy.
The Des Moines register previews Giuliani’s trek through N.E. Iowa today. While the New York Daily News curtain-raises his energy speech, noting that he “is unapologetic about his support for boosting the nation's nuclear power capacity… In so doing, Giuliani has positioned himself, along with GOP rival John McCain, as the most ardent advocates of nuclear power in the 2008 field."
George Will adds his byline to the McCain obit section, and he relishes the fact that McCain may have to file for matching funds so the campaign finance system he helped revamp hurts him. Meanwhile, the McCain camp sent out a fundraising email from manager Rick Davis, which tries to pit McCain against Hillary Clinton. The email notes that McCain's speech on Iraq during the all-night session was followed by Clinton. "Do we have the courage to stand up and fight for victory? Or will we settle for Hillary Clinton's vision of retreat and defeat? John McCain has reminded us time and again that the consequences of withdrawal from Iraq are catastrophic, which is why we must stand strong for victory."
And while many have attributed McCain’s downfall to his ties to Bush (on Iraq and immigration), the Politico’s Wilner makes this point: Unlike Bush, McCain has showed a “willingness to cut loose top advisers during a time of real trouble.”
The former governor heads to Spartanburg, SC today, and to help preview his trip, Romney did a little Q&A with the Spartanburg Herald-Journal, focusing on the issue of school choice. USA Today runs a very flattering profile of Ann Romney today.
University of Maryland professor Tom Schaller looks at the national polls and wonders if Romney is simply too unelectable for the GOP. His theory -- evangelicals are not yet ready to tell pollsters they'll vote for him, even in a match-up against Clinton.
As if Thompson had left any doubt himself with his bizarre lawyer defense, the New York Times confirms via billing records that he indeed lobbied on behalf of an abortion-rights group in the early '90s. “According to records from Arent Fox, the law firm based in Washington where Mr. Thompson worked part-time from 1991 to 1994, he charged the organization, the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, about $5,000 for work he did in 1991 and 1992.”
“Yesterday, [Thompson spokesman Mark] Corallo said the family planning group was an Arent Fox client. ‘The firm consulted with Fred Thompson,’ he said. ‘It is not unusual for a lawyer to give counsel at the request of colleagues, even when they personally disagree with the issue.’”

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