But PURGEgate? I'm sorry, that's a dumb name.
April 3, 2007 9:52 AM   Subscribe

The Purgegate Primer is a helpful document from The Morning News to assist all us armchair pundits in making sense of the U.S. Attorney scandal. Brought to us by the letter Q and recently-mentioned defective yeti, who it seems is about more than just laughs. (Also see his Plamegate Cheatsheet.)
posted by JHarris (55 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I'm looking forward to skimming this with an eye toward trying to understand how this isn't sticking to W himself, incredible as that seems. But then, I'm getting used to "Teflon Presidencies," so I guess I should be shocked only at my increasing inability to be shocked.
posted by pax digita at 10:20 AM on April 3, 2007

The points he makes about the media coverage of scandals like this are quite valid -- as far as Joe Unconcerned is aware, this thing appeared out of nowhere a week ago, and yet all the coverage assumes some background.

So, once again -- you rock, Shadowkeeper
posted by gurple at 10:20 AM on April 3, 2007

The money quote:
Bush will almost certainly invoke executive privilege, thereby putting the executive and legislative branches of government on a collision course. Trying to figure out what happens afterwards is like arguing over whether Batman or Wolverine would win in a fight.
This kind of stuff is why Baldwin is my hero.
posted by majick at 10:37 AM on April 3, 2007

Mr. Baldwin is very smart, very funny guy. I enjoy his writings immensely. Good post.
posted by elendil71 at 10:38 AM on April 3, 2007

Wolverine would gain the element of surprise and win the first conflict, but Batman would learn Logan's weaknesses and gain the upper hand in all subsequent matches. Nobody can beat Batman more than once.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:56 AM on April 3, 2007

OTOH, the term "bat cave" doesn't even appear in the Constitution.
posted by DU at 11:00 AM on April 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

TPM Muckraker has also been covering the story extensively.
posted by russilwvong at 11:07 AM on April 3, 2007

From the article:

Apparently a counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Brett Tolman, had put the verbiage into the bill at the behest of the Justice Department. It is unknown how many Senators knew of the provision when they voted on the bill, but, given that Specter himself was unaware of it, the number could be as low as zero.

To me, that right there is the big revelation. This kind of tactic absolutely cannot be allowed to continue, and the legislators themselves probably realize this, regardless of political affiliation.

(Well okay, I HOPE they do.)
posted by JHarris at 11:11 AM on April 3, 2007

Ah russilwvong, yes, I was debating whether to mention their exhaustive community search through that 3k page mail dump, but ultimately didn't add it because I wasn't sure of the email in which the purge was planned was found through their efforts.
posted by JHarris at 11:14 AM on April 3, 2007

OTOH, the term "bat cave" doesn't even appear in the Constitution.
But "wolverine" appears no less that seven times! Hard to believe, but true.
posted by wzcx at 11:16 AM on April 3, 2007

OTOH, the term "bat cave" doesn't even appear in the Constitution.

Also, Wolverine's Canadian. And Batman has beaten him in a fight. This is the most awesome thread derail ever.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:28 AM on April 3, 2007

Specter was offended when some reporters described the controversial provision as having been “slipped in” (“I do not slip things in,” he said), but later admitted that even he did not know about the revision until long after the bill had become a law. Apparently a counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Brett Tolman, had put the verbiage into the bill at the behest of the Justice Department. It is unknown how many Senators knew of the provision when they voted on the bill, but, given that Specter himself was unaware of it, the number could be as low as zero.
The incompetence of Congress is an archetype of humor right up there behind lawyers and blondes. But this pushes past the bounds of funny into heads-need-to-roll anger. It's as if someone tricks the president into signing a bill by asking for his autograph, the autograph-seeker goes unpunished and we the people get saddled with the new law. How does this happen. Why do unelected lawyers have access to my laws?

One quibble: can we pretty please lose -gate as a scandal suffix?
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 11:33 AM on April 3, 2007

Nobody can beat Batman more than once.

Well if you kill him the first time then you don't need to beat him again. Wolverine is an unstoppable and unyielding force of primal rage, aggression and destruction. On bad days he's completely unpredictable and indestructible. And by definition, he's the best there is at what he does. So he'd kill Batman hard the first time.
posted by nixerman at 11:36 AM on April 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

You keep saying "bat cave" - but which one are you talking about? This one? Or this one? Maybe this one? How about this one?

posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:36 AM on April 3, 2007

Yet in Dark Night Returns an elderly Batman beat Superman in a completely plausible way. Of course that wasn't canon, but...


must... maintain... anger....
posted by JHarris at 11:48 AM on April 3, 2007

This one.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 12:05 PM on April 3, 2007

Okay, but even this primer misses one of the biggest pieces, the bit that actually got TPM interested in the first place: it wasn't that Lam had already prosecuted Cunningham, and her firing was payback. It was that Lam was preparing to indict Wilkes and Foggo (#3 at the CIA), two way more important players in the Duke Cunningham scandal, whose prosecution would have led to the CIA and possibly the office of the vice president. The politicization of a 100,000 employee strong department is more like a secondary result of this fact. Again, Talking Points Memo is on the case.
posted by one_bean at 12:43 PM on April 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

Wait, counsel to the Justice Committe modified the bill at the urging of the Justice Department? That seems like a bit of a constitutional crisis, with the executive having effective written some legislation.
posted by boo_radley at 1:15 PM on April 3, 2007

also, Slate did a good chart last week---Who's Blaming Whom--Where the fingers are pointing in the Bush administration meltdown.

(and some of us have been trying to keep the old threads updated-ish--here, and here)
posted by amberglow at 2:57 PM on April 3, 2007

and don't miss Time's managing editor refusing to cover it
posted by amberglow at 2:59 PM on April 3, 2007

White House liaison has no right to plead Fifth (about Goodling)
posted by amberglow at 3:35 PM on April 3, 2007

I'll take Keith Olbermann over that fuckbag Rick Stengel at Time any day of the week. You go, boy. Make some lemonade.
posted by phaedon at 4:16 PM on April 3, 2007

The -gate meme needs to be destroyed.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:54 PM on April 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

posted by kirkaracha at 6:20 PM on April 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

The Daily Show managed to nicely explain the Plame situation (as it was at the time) a year or two ago in two minutes. And it ended with video of a chimp washing a cat.

This was a pretty good summation of things as they stand, but, man, am I missing that chimp washing a cat.
posted by sparkletone at 6:46 PM on April 3, 2007

This is great. At last, I really understand what is going on.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:15 PM on April 3, 2007

Obviously it has to be Gonzogate.
posted by stammer at 1:57 AM on April 4, 2007

Although I have seen people use USAGate, which these days seems a more appropriate name for Bush's entire presidency, and perhaps a catchier name for the country.
posted by stammer at 1:58 AM on April 4, 2007

The -gate thing is tired. Let's just call all aspects of this clusterfuck The Bush Legacy.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:02 AM on April 4, 2007

Wow amberglow. Like the original link says, they cover their asses and get punched in the gut. Yowza.
posted by JHarris at 7:41 PM on April 4, 2007

Anytime any one from my work calls my cell phone, the video clip of the monkey washing the cat plays on my screen.

I find this entertaining because the cat looks exactly like my Siamese. And monkeys are always funny.

That is all I have to contribute to this conversation.
posted by quin at 11:55 AM on April 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

Sen. Hatch is willingly and blatantly lying about Lam, too--i hear he wants Gonzales' job, altho god only knows why.

TPM== Yesterday I flagged the story, which a slew of others have already noted, about how Orrin Hatch completely made up a string of 'facts' about fired prosecutor Carol Lam. ...
posted by amberglow at 3:44 PM on April 5, 2007

This is incredible: ...The whole episode is just another example of Hatch's complete indifference to acquainting himself with even the most basic facts of the US Attorney Purge story. On the whole saga, he doesn't even rise to the level of being a hack. He's simply a joke.

Late Update: TPM Reader CK disagrees ...
As a lawyer, my take on Hatch on the Lam episode as on other matters where I have observed him (espeically the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas hearings, but you may be too young to remember those) is that he is a very talented, very cynical, very dangerous trial lawyer. He has gotten his disinformation out there, he has a statement that he can claim is a correction (when it is not,as you point out), and so the disinformation stays out there, muddying up the waters as much as it can. ...

posted by amberglow at 3:46 PM on April 5, 2007

Trouble at one of the "loyal Bushie" offices: Still more on the staff shake-up in the Minneapolis US Attorney's office, where 34-year old Federalist Society member and former Gonzales aide Rachel Paulose was just sworn in last month. Below we noted that the simultaneous resignations of all four top officials in the office came just after what the Star-Tribune called a "visit to the office by a representative from the Executive Office of the U.S. Attorney in Washington." ...
posted by amberglow at 8:47 AM on April 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

Monica Goodling is resigning tomorrow, CNN just said on tv.
posted by amberglow at 1:48 PM on April 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

NYT: The top aide to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales abruptly quit on Friday, almost two weeks after telling Congress she would not testify about her role in the firings of federal prosecutors.
'I am hereby submitting my resignation to the office of attorney general,' Monica M. Goodling said in a three-sentence letter. There was no immediate reason given, but her refusal to face Congress had intensified a controversy that threatens Gonzales' job. ...

posted by amberglow at 2:45 PM on April 6, 2007

Wow, look like you've been busy amberglow. But are people (well, besides me) still visiting this thread?
posted by JHarris at 12:59 PM on April 7, 2007

posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:05 PM on April 7, 2007


It's a really important and still-expanding story--new shit is coming out every day.
posted by amberglow at 10:37 AM on April 8, 2007

... With that discharge resolution, a rarely used procedure in the United States Senate, Bill Frist brought Ms. Paulose's nomination to the floor without any committee hearing or committee vote. A few hours later the United States Senate confirmed Ms. Paulose's nomination along with over a hundred other nominations before heading out of town and before a new Democratic Senate took over.

If you are going to place a young, inexperienced "best buds" of Monica Goodling as a United States Attorney you will need a compliant United States Senate that does not take its "advice and consent" responsibilities under the United States Constitution very seriously. Mr. Bush had such a Senate in the 109th Congress.

posted by amberglow at 12:52 PM on April 8, 2007

... Everyone prepares for congressional testimony, but this is ridiculous. If Gonzales was planning to simply tell the truth, he wouldn't "keep contradicting himself" in practice sessions and he wouldn't need to bring his schedule to a standstill in order to figure out what he's planning to say. He'd just review the appropriate documents to make sure he had his dates straight and then tell Congress what happened.

Obviously, though, that's not quite what he's planning to do, is it?

posted by amberglow at 3:56 AM on April 9, 2007

Subpoena issued to the Dept. of Justice because they haven't handed over all the requested info: ...the Judiciary Committee is requesting the following in its subpoena: complete and unredacted copies of any and all documents pertaining to the firing of USAttys and any and all consideration of potential replacements thereto; complete and unredacted copies of communication with members of Congress about said terminations and/or replacements; complete and unredacted copies of communication with any of the terminated USAttys; complete and unredacted copies of correspondence with the White House with regard to handling responses to Congress and/or the media about these issues.

In the letter, Rep. Conyers specifically requests not just paper documents, but electronic data (e-mails, files, etc.) including electronic metadata such as headers, directional information, and other such useful tracking data. (Which says to me: "Don't try to erase your trail, we're on to something here.") April 16th is the day before Alberto Gonzales' testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Something tells me it's going to be a bumpy few days between now and then. ...

posted by amberglow at 4:57 PM on April 10, 2007

and this: A half-dozen sitting U.S. attorneys also serve as aides to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales or are assigned other Washington postings, performing tasks that take them away from regular duties in their districts for months or even years at a time, according to officials and department records.

...The growing reliance on federal prosecutors to fill Washington-based jobs also comes amid controversy over the firings of eight other U.S. attorneys last year. One of them, David C. Iglesias of New Mexico, was publicly accused by the Justice Department of being an "absentee landlord" who was away from his job too much.

"I can't think of a time when there's been this many U.S. attorneys doing double duty at one time," said Dennis Boyd, executive director of the National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys, which represents current federal prosecutors.

posted by amberglow at 5:19 PM on April 10, 2007

and related to that, there was another provision inserted into the Patriot Act: ...TPM's David Kurtz has just been digging back in to the Patriot Act revision and he's found that they also got something in about this. The revised Patriot Act gives the Attorney General the power to set aside the US Attorney residency requirements. Here's the text ... ...
posted by amberglow at 5:24 PM on April 10, 2007

LA Times: --The White House said Wednesday that it may have lost what could amount to thousands of messages sent through a private e-mail system used by political guru Karl Rove and at least 50 other top officials, an admission that stirred anger and dismay among congressional investigators.

The e-mails were considered potentially crucial evidence in congressional inquiries launched by Democrats into the role partisan politics may have played in such policy decisions as the firing of eight U.S. attorneys....
The e-mails were sent through a communications system created in conjunction with the RNC early in the Bush administration. Rove and others were given special laptop computers and other communications devices to use instead of the government communications system when dealing with political matters.

The parallel system was designed to avoid running afoul of the Hatch Act, which prohibits using government resources for partisan purposes, White House officials have said.

But evidence has emerged that system users sometimes failed to maintain such separation and used the private system when communicating about government business. ...
Loss of the e-mail files would create a potential legal problem for the Bush White House: compliance with the Presidential Records Act, which was passed in 1978 in response to the Watergate scandal that enveloped Richard M. Nixon's presidency. The law was designed to ensure that presidential papers were preserved for historical and investigative purposes.

Rove's operation appears to have gone much further.

posted by amberglow at 7:44 AM on April 12, 2007

oop--LA Times link: Officials' e-mail may be missing, White House says
posted by amberglow at 7:45 AM on April 12, 2007

Thanks for keeping this thread up to date, amberglow.
posted by ryanrs at 2:30 PM on April 14, 2007

all the action's moved on tho to this thread
posted by amberglow at 3:00 PM on April 14, 2007

Yes amberglow, I'm nominating you to the Rocking Committee for promotion to Level Two Awesome for all this.

defective yeti now has a little more on it as well, like how Gonzales promoted a bunch of graduates of Pat Robertson's fundie law school to U. S. Attorney posts.
posted by JHarris at 1:51 PM on April 16, 2007

aw, thanks! : >
posted by amberglow at 5:33 PM on April 16, 2007

all the action's moved on tho to this thread

Ah! Thanks for the pointer.
posted by homunculus at 9:09 PM on April 18, 2007

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