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Another Stab at the Truth

"The story is particularly damaging to Novak because it raised concerns that Novak and Rove coordinated their grand jury testimony, even possibly developing a 'cover story' for themselves. At the very least, the conversation was inadvisable and unethical -- and, if a false story was concocted, against the law."

And I just heard Novak assert on Fox News that it was "well known around town" that Plame was a CIA operative before his column came out. While this has been a right-wing talking point for ages, it has never been confirmed.

Not Speaking With One Voice

What does the White House want? Senators trying to some sort of way to bring terror suspects to trial in the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision invalidating Bush's unilateral approach are seeing clear signs of divisions within the administration.

R. Jeffrey Smith and Jonathan Weisman write in The Washington Post: "Three days of congressional testimony this week by senior Bush administration officials about U.S. treatment of detainees in the war on terrorism have made clear that the administration remains deeply divided on the issue and unsure how to replace a key policy that the Supreme Court declared illegal two weeks ago.

"Interagency divisions normally kept hidden from public view have been on unusual display as officials from the Justice Department and the Pentagon have offered starkly different accounts of the administration's reaction to the court's opinion, baffling members of Congress and other interested parties about U.S. intentions.

"The testimony has shown that the Justice Department -- which had insisted on the legality of the existing policy -- is eager to sharply limit the impact of the Supreme Court's decision, while military lawyers and some other Pentagon officials are celebrating it as a vindication of their long-held concerns about U.S. detainee policy."

Kate Zernike writes in the New York Times: "The top lawyers from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines contradicted the Bush administration on Thursday on how to bring terror suspects to trial, endorsing an approach that extends more human and legal rights to detainees than one that administration lawyers have pressed Congress to authorize. . . .

"Senators complained that they were hearing mixed messages from the administration. Even as administration lawyers have been publicly urging Congress to ratify the president's plan for trials that offer few rights, they said, other White House officials have privately said that they would go along with an approach similar to what the military lawyers support, offering broader protection for detainees.

"Senator John W. Warner, Republican of Virginia, the committee chairman, said he was 'somewhat perplexed' by the testimony of administration lawyers this week, given his conversations with some White House advisers. 'I do not believe we in Congress have received the last words by any means,' Mr. Warner said."

Maura Reynolds writes in the Los Angeles Times: "White House officials offered little clarity Thursday, saying that they preferred a tough approach but that 'no doors are closed.'

"'Terrorists don't deserve the same rights as the troops in uniform,' White House Deputy Press Secretary Dana Perino said while in Germany with President Bush."

Zernike also notes: "Pentagon and White House officials took issue with an editorial in The Wall Street Journal on Thursday that cited sources saying Mr. England's memorandum [acknowledging that detainees were entitled to those rights under Common Article Three] 'was issued without any wide deliberation with, or even particular awareness by, the White House counsel's office or the Justice Department.' A senior Defense Department official said the memorandum 'was coordinated across the interagency.' Perino would say only that 'the White House was notified' and not whether the president himself was informed."


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