April 10, 2006

Death By A Thousand Leaks

Today's WaPo editorial comes out strongly in support of the official government li(n)e: it's OK when we leak, not when others do. Josh Marshall lets rip:
...the authors of this editorial don't appear to read the news pages of their own paper or their best competitors. The clock has simply run out on any attempt to claim the president and his key advisors weren't acting in bad faith with their constant advocacy of an alleged traffic in uranium between Iraq and Niger. It's over...

For whatever reason, the Post has chosen to throw in its lot with the flurry of mendacious rhetoric and the white-washed investigations, all of which amount to a grand pen and paper and word game truss barely holding together the body of official lies that is still barely governing the capital.

They've made their deal with power. They should justify it on those grounds rather than choosing to mislead their readers.
Daily Kos writers also have something to say about the WaPo lies.

Scotty "Boy" McLellan is taking the heat after being caught out in yet another lie:
In a tense briefing, White House spokesman Scott McClellan was asked repeatedly to explain his statement from three years ago that portions of a prewar intelligence document on Iraq were declassified on July 18, 2003.

Ten days earlier, Cheney's top aide, I. Lewis Libby, had leaked snippets of intelligence from the document to New York Times reporter Judith Miller to rebut allegations by Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson, Libby told prosecutors, according to documents revealed this week.

Libby, Cheney's former chief of staff, said he had passed the information to Miller after being told to do so by Cheney, who advised Libby that Bush had authorized it, said a court filing by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald.

McClellan told reporters July 18, 2003, that the material being released on Iraq ''was officially declassified today.'' On Friday, McClellan interpreted his words to mean that is when the material was ''officially released.''

Asked when it was declassified, McClellan refused to answer, saying the matter was part of Fitzgerald's ongoing CIA leak probe that resulted in Libby's indictment...

The declassification issue marks the second time in the CIA leak probe that the White House's previous public statements have been called into question.

After checking with Libby and presidential adviser Karl Rove, McClellan said in 2003 that neither aide was involved in the leak of the CIA identity of Wilson's wife. Rove remains under investigation in the leak probe.

John Podesta, a former chief of staff in the Clinton White House, said, "Scott McClellan's credibility isn't just in tatters. It is more like confetti."
Meanwhile, the leaks continue.

Here's a new leak to the New York Times:
An internal staff report by the U.S. Embassy and military command in Baghdad provides a snapshot of Iraq's political, economic and security situation in each of the 18 provinces, rating overall stability of six provinces "serious," one as "critical" and only three as "stable."

The report is a counterpoint to some recent upbeat public statements by top U.S. politicians and military officials.

In 10 pages of briefing slides, the report, titled "Provincial Stability Assessment," underscores the shift in the nature of the Iraq war three years after the toppling of Saddam Hussein. Warnings of sectarian and ethnic frictions are raised in many regions, even in provinces generally described as nonviolent by U.S. officials.

There also are alerts about the growing power of Iranian-backed religious Shiite parties, several of which the United States helped put into power, and rival militias in the south. And the authors describe the Arab-Kurdish fault line in the north as a major concern, with the two ethnicities vying for power in violence-strewn Mosul and in Kirkuk, which have oil fields critical to jump-starting economic growth in Iraq.

A copy of the unclassified report — dated Jan. 31, three weeks before the bombing of a revered Shiite shrine in Samarra triggered reprisals that have killed more than 1,000 Iraqis — was provided to The New York Times by a government official who opposes the way the war is being conducted and said the confidential assessment provided a more realistic gauge of stability in Iraq than recent portrayals by senior military officers.
That comes via Juan Cole, who also cites an AP interview with a top Iraqi official admitting Iraq has been in a civil war for at least a year:
The only reason it is even controversial that Iraq is in civil war is because the Bush administration spinmeisters are resisting the term, for PR purposes. Why doesn't the US press just ignore them when they start saying ridiculous things like that?
And Mark Klein, a retired communications technician, blows the whistle on AT&T's involvement in the NSA wire-tapping:
AT&T provided National Security Agency eavesdroppers with full access to its customers' phone calls, and shunted its customers' internet traffic to data-mining equipment installed in a secret room in its San Francisco switching center, according to a former AT&T worker cooperating in the Electronic Frontier Foundation's lawsuit against the company...

According to a statement released by Klein's attorney, an NSA agent showed up at the San Francisco switching center in 2002 to interview a management-level technician for a special job. In January 2003, Klein observed a new room being built adjacent to the room housing AT&T's #4ESS switching equipment, which is responsible for routing long distance and international calls.

"I learned that the person whom the NSA interviewed for the secret job was the person working to install equipment in this room," Klein wrote. "The regular technician work force was not allowed in the room."

Klein's job eventually included connecting internet circuits to a splitting cabinet that led to the secret room. During the course of that work, he learned from a co-worker that similar cabinets were being installed in other cities, including Seattle, San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego.
Time for a consumer boycott of AT&T, methinks. It only takes one call to switch carriers...

And meanwhile, in Blair's UK, a leak to the Guardian blows away the "Al Quaeda global terrorist network" fallacy:
Far from being the work of an international terror network, as originally suspected, the attack was carried out by four men who had scoured terror sites on the internet. Their knapsack bombs cost only a few hundred pounds, according to the first completed draft of the government's definitive report into the blasts.

The Home Office account, compiled by a senior civil servant at the behest of Home Secretary Charles Clarke, also discounts the existence of a fifth bomber. After the bombings, police found an unused rucksack of explosives in the bombers' abandoned car at Luton station, which led to a manhunt for a missing suspect. Similarly, it found nothing to support the theory that an al-Qaeda fixer, presumed to be from Pakistan, was instrumental in planning the attacks.

A Whitehall source said: 'The London attacks were a modest, simple affair by four seemingly normal men using the internet.'
Even the Australian government of John Howard is feeling the heat:
A former United Nations customs official has dropped a bombshell on the Howard Government by saying she explicitly warned Australian officials six years ago that AWB might be paying trucking fees to Iraq in breach of UN sanctions...

Since the scandal broke, Government ministers have said they never knew the monopoly wheat exporter was paying trucking fees and had no reason to suspect so. But Ms Johnston says she specifically raised trucking fees with the Australian diplomat Bronte Moules in January 2000 after Canadian diplomats alleged AWB was breaching sanctions.
There's a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza...

It's past time for something that used to be called "accountability".


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