Libby's Troubles

Not such a good day for Scooter Libby. From the Times: The former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer today contradicted the account of I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, that Mr. Libby first learned of a C.I.A. agent's identity on July 10, 2003.Mr. Fleischer, testifying in Mr. Libby's trial under a grant of immunity, said Mr. Libby told him over lunch on July 7, 2003, that the wife of a critic of President Bush's Iraq policy worked for the Central Intelligence Agency."This is hush-hush," Mr. Fleischer recalled Mr. Libby as saying in effect.

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Invaluable reader EC notes that the Bush White House's new pastry chef previously authored the book Desserts for Dummies. He'll now be serving plenty of those! [Ba-da-boom] --Michael Crowley

Politico: Conservatives don't like their 2008 White House choices. And am I the only one who missed RedState's entertaining "They All Suck" tirade? Also: NR's Lowry rips Romney! --Michael Crowley

by David Bromwich Alberto Gonzales in testimony several days ago before the Senate Judiciary Committee denied that the Constitution gave American citizens the right to habeas corpus. The story was overlooked by most of the mainstream news outlets, perhaps on the theory that no exorbitant statement by Gonzales is news any longer. But this was an astonisher. It left Arlen Specter startled enough to warn the justice department that it seemed to be crossing one more indelible line.

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In a Newsweek interview released today, Dick Cheney was kind enough to give his opinion of Chuck Hagel: Let's say I believe firmly in Ronald Reagan's 11th commandment: Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican. But it's very hard sometimes to adhere to that where Chuck Hagel is involved. The debate over whether Cheney actually runs the Executive Branch has receded a bit, but the latest publicity "surge" by the Veep makes me think that there is no one in the White House powerful enough to tell him to keep his mouth shut (and, therefore, that he is still basically in charge).

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Contra Iran

The first reports from military intelligence about an Iranian nuclear program reached the desk of Yitzhak Rabin shortly after he became prime minister in May 1992. Rabin's conclusion was unequivocal: Only a nuclear Iran, he told aides, could pose an existential threat to which Israel would have no credible response. But, when he tried to warn the Clinton administration, he met with incredulity. The CIA's assessment--which wouldn't change until 1998--was that Iran's nuclear program was civilian, not military.

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Stumbling Into War

Last week, a U.S. official told Laura Rozen that the Bush administration was planning to "confront Iran in every way but direct armed conflict, using all means short of war." No mention, though, of how the White House planned to ensure that these new moves--confronting Iranian networks in Iraq, doubling its naval power in the Gulf, finding "covert ways to counter Hezbollah in Lebanon"--actually do stop short of war. After all, say the U.S. military decides to "kill or capture Iranian operatives inside Iraq," as seems to be the new policy. Iran could very likely retaliate.

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No, not on actual policy. But at least someone seems to have told the president that "decider" isn't much of a word. --Christopher Orr

What 'really' Ails Ford?

So Ford Motor Company posts a staggering $12.7 billion loss in '06 and all the usual explanations make the rounds: SUV sales slumped thanks to high gas prices; Toyota and other rivals have been making better cars; the company's weighed down by health and pension costs. No doubt. But here's yet another theory, via Focus on the Family's always-fabulous newsletter: The American Family Association (AFA) said last year's $12.7 billion loss by Ford Motor Company is no surprise.

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Merle Haggard's already come out against the war in Iraq. Now it's Toby Keith's turn. From a Newsday profile of The Angry American: Keith doesn't support the Iraq war -- "Never did," he says -- and he favors setting a time limit on the occupation. He says he suspects civil war in Iraq is inevitable and predicts the Kurds will be the victors: "I promise you, they'll end up with it all." The article goes on to mention that Keith is buddies with Bill Richardson. I do think "How Do You Like Me Now" would make a pretty good theme song for Richardson's presidential campaign. --Jason Zengerle

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