The Spectacle Blog

Re: ABC’s NSA

By on 1.11.06 | 10:22AM

Mark: You hit the nail on the head. And there's more. The ABC, NYT and the rest of the leakers' amen chorus is entirely wrong in labeling them "whistleblowers." The federal Whistleblower Protection Act does not - repeat not - give leakers immunity from prosecution for the crime of leaking secrets. It protects real whistleblowers who report possible wrongdoing through set channels. In the case of secret information, those channels prevent disclosure of such as the NSA intel gathering program and the CIA detention of terrorist prisoners in secret locations overseas.

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ABC’s NSA

By on 1.11.06 | 8:25AM

ABC's Brian Ross had yet another breathless (and misleading) exclusive last night. Fired NSA analyst Russle Tice (apparently stripped of his security clearance and let go last year over "psychological concerns") is claiming to be "a" source for the NY Times' NSA story.

Note to the FBI investigators probing the leak: This guy ain't it. He may have chimed in after the NY Times got the story, but he certainly is not the original leaker. The timing of the story (right before the Patriot Act vote) points to a time-honored pressure tactic by political sources: when your original leak didn't make it into the paper, to have the originally intended impact (in this case right before the 2004 presidential election to harm President Bush), wait for an opportunity to make political hay. A year goes by and Risen's source sees the Patriot Act vote as another big opportunity. I'd bet the source threatened the Times that if they didn't publish that Friday, the story would be given to a competitor.

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Alito Update

By on 1.11.06 | 8:13AM

Building on what we reported yesterday, Republicans were thrilled with the first day of questioning by Judiciary Committee members of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito.

"He held up very well late into the day, which is something we were concerned about," says a committee staffer.

The same cannot be said for the Democratic members of the committee. According to several Democratic staffers, they were taken aback by the tone and line of questioning Sen. Russ Feingold took with Alito. "That wasn't part of the game plan," one staffer told us last night. "During the lunchbreak his staff said that he was extremely unhappy about the morning session, very frustrated and angry that Kennedy and Biden weren't pushing harder."

The result: one of the more embarrassing performances in recent memory. Feingold essentially called a Supreme Court nominee a dupe for the White House, and grilled Alito on his preparation sessions with White House staff.

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More on Shadegg

By on 1.11.06 | 8:02AM

As we reported yesterday afternoon, the predicted end of the House Majority Leader election that other blog sites were reporting never came, and now it appears Republicans in the House have settled in for the long haul. No more than about a third of the GOP caucus, if that, has truly committed to either Reps. Roy Blunt and John Boehner. Why?

"Almost certainly it's because we're waiting for the other shoes to drop on both of them," a Republican House member explained. "If a member is in Washington, they are already hearing that reporters are circling around the 'Boehner is a party animal' stories from a few years ago. You're hearing there are major pieces on Blunt's relationships with lobbyists being developed. Beyond the most loyal supporter none of us is willing to go out on a limb that might get sawed off pretty quickly. If you're out of town you're hearing if from your colleagues on conference calls we're holding."

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Phew

By on 1.11.06 | 7:30AM

Imagine my relief when I read in this morning's NY Times Corrections column:

An article yesterday about the awards ceremony for the sex-films industry included erroneous information from AVN Publications, the program organizer, on the name of one award-winning film by Vivid Entertainment. It is "The New Devil in Miss Jones," not "The Devil in Miss Jones."

The Times should be more cognizant of the stress and argumentation such careless errors can cause among people of good will.

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Re: Illusions of Safety

By on 1.11.06 | 6:02AM

I understand why people are surprised, but not why they're so surprised. Sure, Cleveland Park feels safe, but you can take a Metro from there to some of the most dangerous 'hoods in the country. The illusion of safety is premised on assuming criminals will be lazy. Usually they are -- but not always. And when law-abiding citizens are forcefully disarmed, they become easy targets.

Think this'll make DC rethink its handgun ban? Of course not.

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Loud Whisper Shadegg

By on 1.11.06 | 1:19AM

Co-host Larry Kudlow tonight was irrepressible in his loud whisper campaign for John Shadegg of 3rd Arizona as a fresh challenger to the apparent stand-off between Majority Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri and John Boehner of 8th Ohio in their bruising contest for House Republican majority leader. Shadegg is the fifth ranking Republican in the House now, chair of the House Republican Committee, and enjoys an iron-bound reputation for his chair of the stalwart Republican Study Committee in the first Bush term.

We spoke to Thaddeus McCotter of 11th Michigan, who promoted John Boehner as the man to change the unsavory ways of the pork barrel Republicans. McCotter is not RSC, and did not speak for or against RSC chair Mike Pence of 6th Indiana or other tyros. McCotter spoke in favor of a transformation in the way the House conducts business. Discipline, honor, transparency, humility. Blunt is business as usual -- Delayism without the cash binges. Boehner represents the unglamorous labor of government; McCotter added that Boehner had offered no plum for McCotter's vote, and no favor was asked.

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Illusions of Safety

By on 1.10.06 | 10:16PM

A revealing aspect of the grisly mugging murder of New York Times veteran David Rosenbaum in Washington last weekend are reactions of residents in the pleasant neighborhood in which the crime occurred. The Washington Post's coverage has included fewer expressions of outrage at the cruel fate that met the accomplished Rosenbaum than words of new found fear for one's own safety:

"We already take more precautions after dark. This is just terrible news." "It's a remarkably safe neighborhood, or it feels that way...until now." "We have very small children. We'll have our guard up even more, use our alarms more religiously." Before this crime, "There was no fear of things."

"When there's a terrible murder," the writer Paula Fox said in a New York Times Magazine profile five years ago, "people who are interviewed say, 'This has always been a quiet neighborhood.' That is so dumb and uninformed! The earth is not a quiet neighborhood. There isn't anyplace that's a quiet neighborhood...."

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Boys’ Night Out

By on 1.10.06 | 9:49PM

The Vice President's undisclosed location has been discovered! Wait for it... the new Clyde's in Chinatown. It was noticed that St. Michael's neighbor, and longtime friend, the Secretary of Defense, also dined at the new restaurant this evening. We just don't know if they ate together. Anyway, so soon after his recent hospital visit, what was VPOTUS doing in a joint featuring fatty oysters and wings?

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What the Heck, Over?

By on 1.10.06 | 5:13PM

So now we know who is the Republican equivalent of Joe Biden: Lindsay Graham, aside from preening for the cameras, has done more to corner Alito today than all of the Dems put together. His entire line of questioning on enemy combatants should have elicited from Alito the "can't answer because it may come before the court" response. Unfortunately, the judge may be a bit tired after a long day and got into issues of the Hamdi case more than he should. Graham is supposed to be a Republican, but he is acting like someone who wants to corner Alito and sink him. Can't anyone shut Graham up?

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