Correction to This Article
An earlier version of this column incorrectly stated that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was convicted in February. He was convicted in March.
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Fitzgerald Again Points to Cheney

"Independent pollster Andrew Kohut said of the White House view: 'I don't see what they're talking about.'"

Senate Intel Redux

Walter Pincus and Karen DeYoung write in The Washington Post on Saturday: "Months before the invasion of Iraq, U.S. intelligence agencies predicted that it would be likely to spark violent sectarian divides and provide al-Qaeda with new opportunities in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a report released yesterday by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Analysts warned that war in Iraq also could provoke Iran to assert its regional influence and 'probably would result in a surge of political Islam and increased funding for terrorist groups' in the Muslim world."

James Gerstenzang writes in the Los Angeles Times: "In early 2003, even as their deputies were receiving the intelligence community papers, top administration officials -- among them Vice President Dick Cheney and then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld -- publicly speculated that U.S. troops would be greeted warmly as liberators and gave no hint that some analysts were raising red flags about difficulties to come."

Here's the full report.

Darfur Watch

Michael Abramowitz and Debbi Wilgoren write for The Washington Post: "President Bush is increasing pressure on Sudan's government to cooperate with international efforts to halt violence in its troubled Darfur region, where the White House said almost three years ago that genocide was taking place.

"In a brief address that included sharp criticism of Sudanese president Lt. Gen. Omar Hassan al-Bashir, Bush said the Treasury Department will step up efforts to squeeze the Sudanese economy by targeting government-run ventures involved with its booming oil business, which does many of its transactions in U.S. dollars. Bush also announced sanctions against individuals, which aides said would target two senior Sudanese officials and a rebel leader who are all suspected of being involved in the violence in Darfur."

Rove and the GOP Implosion

Jeffrey Goldberg writes in the New Yorker: "The West Wing of the White House tends to have a funereal stillness, even in the best of times, which these are not. The President's aides walk the narrow corridors with pensive expressions and vigilantly modulated voices. By contrast, Karl Rove's office has an almost party atmosphere. Rove, the President's chief political adviser -- the 'architect,' Bush has called him, of his 2004 victory over John Kerry -- has been a man of constant troubles: Valerie Plame troubles, U.S. Attorney-firing troubles, and, most of all, collapse-of-the-Republican Party troubles. Yet his voice is suffused with bonhomie, his jokes are bad and frequent, his enthusiasm is communicable; he resembles an oversized leprechaun, although one with unconcealed resentments and a receding hairline."

But now Rove, "the man Bush has called his 'boy genius,' is among those being blamed by conservatives for the Party's problems -- blame that he shares with others who have attempted to transform the party."

Among the blamers is Newt Gingrich, who criticizes "Rove's 'maniacally dumb' strategy in 2004, which left Bush with no political capital. 'All he proved was that the anti-Kerry vote was bigger than the anti-Bush vote,' Gingrich said. He continued, 'The Bush people deliberately could not bring themselves to wage a campaign of choice' -- of ideology, of suggesting that Kerry was 'to the left of Ted Kennedy' -- and chose instead to attack Kerry's war record."

Exit Sara Taylor

Michael A. Fletcher writes in The Washington Post: "Sara M. Taylor, the White House political director and microtargeting guru who has been with George W. Bush from the outset of his first presidential campaign, is the latest staff member to leave the president's employ. . . .

"Taylor's departure leaves a big hole in the White House's political operation, as the administration works with an often hostile Congress to push for policy changes including immigration reform, energy initiatives and renewal of the president's signature education accountability law. 'She did a very superb job in every role she has been called on,' said Rove, Bush's chief political strategist. 'It is a big loss for us.'"

Fletcher writes about Taylor's expertise in data-mining and microtargeting, but fails to mention her role in the ever-unfolding scandal over last year's U.S. attorney firing.

In a May 16 letter to White House Counsel Fred Fielding, for instance, Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy wrote: "According to documents and testimony, [Sara] Taylor, the head of the White House political operation and deputy of Mr. Rove's, and [Scott] Jennings, another aide to Mr. Rove, were involved in the discussions and planning that led to the removal of Bud Cummins and bypassing the Senate confirmation process to install Tim Griffin, another former aide to Mr. Rove, as U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Arkansas. They were part of a group that discussed using the Attorney General's expanded authority under the Patriot Act reauthorization to avoid the opposition of the Arkansas Senators by appointing Mr. Griffin as interim indefinitely. . . .

"Mr. Sampson testified that Ms. Taylor was upset when the Attorney General finally 'rejected' this use of the interim authority -- a month after telling Senator Pryor he was committed to finding a Senate-confirmed U.S. Attorney."

And Karen Tumulty blogged for Time last week: "In private testimony that is being released this afternoon by the committee, Alberto Gonzales's former Chief of Staff Kyle Sampson told investigators that Gonzales himself initially resisted the idea of bypassing the Senators from Arkansas to install Karl Rove protege Tim Griffin as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas. Pressure to do it, he suggested, was coming from officials at the White House -- specifically, White House political director Sara Taylor, her deputy Scott Jennings and Chris Oprison, the associate White House counsel."

RNC E-Mail Watch

John D. McKinnon blogs for the Wall Street Journal: "Senators peeked under yet another rock in the investigation of the U.S. attorney firings, asking White House political chieftain Karl Rove for several batches of personal emails. But they'll have to dig harder: Rove's lawyer said he's not complying with the request."

Here's the request from the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Helen Thomas Watch

From Friday's gaggle with White House spokesman Scott Stanzel.

"Q Since no Justice Department official has been forthcoming, who drew up the list of the attorneys -- the prosecutors to be fired?

"MR. STANZEL: Well, I think, Helen, that's a subject that's been covered exhaustively on hearings on the Hill --

"Q Okay. Tell me, I'm sorry, I have not read who --

"MR. STANZEL: I will allow the Justice Department to help you out with that question because --

"Q But I'm telling you they're not saying.

"MR. STANZEL: They've testified hours and hours and hours about this very issue.

"Q Did they say who drew up the list?

"MR. STANZEL: Well, I think it's been testified to the fact that Kyle Sampson was working on the process, and I think they testified to that fact.

"Q Did he think of the names, himself?

"MR. STANZEL: I think he's spoken at length about the review process that was underway.

"Q Don't stall, just tell me. Who drew up --

"MR. STANZEL: I will refer you to the Department of Justice, Helen.

"Q Well, that's another dodge.

"Q They won't tell her.

"MR. STANZEL: I got that. Thank you. Any other questions?"

Card Booed

The Associated Press reports: "President Bush's former chief of staff Andrew Card was loudly booed by hundreds of students and faculty members as he rose to accept an honorary degree at the University of Massachusetts on Friday.

"The boos and catcalls -- including those from faculty members who stood onstage with Card -- drowned out Provost Charlena Seymour's remarks as she awarded the honorary doctorate in public service. Protesters claim Card lied to the American people in the early days of the Iraq war and should not have been honored at the graduate student commencement."

Firedoglake has video.

Cartoon Watch

Tom Toles on Bush and Gonzales; Mike Luckovich on Memorial Day; Dwane Powell on political theatrics.


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