2. Couric Asks Bill Clinton Whether Karl Rove Should Be Fired
3. ABC Hypes "New Questions" on Roberts, "Disappointment" No Latino?
4. AP: "Low Morale" for Soldiers in Iraq, WPost: "Morale Improving"
5. Bill Moyers Tasked Hoover's FBI to Find Gays on Goldwater's Staff
Picking up on a top of the front page Thursday Washington Post story, "Plame's Identity Marked as Secret: Memo Central to Probe of Leak Was Written By State Dept. Analyst," CBS and MSNBC treated the revelation as a major development. "Coming up on the CBS Evening News, the plot thickens," promised anchor John Roberts. He soon intoned: "There's news tonight involving the federal investigation into who leaked the identity of a CIA operative and blew her cover. It turns out a key portion of a two-year-old State Department memo that is now at the center of the controversy was classified, and that could mean leaking it was a crime." MSNBC's Keith Olbermann promised: "And the Karl Rove controversy not going away tonight. New details will be revealed on this program about the State Department memo at the center of the Valerie Plame case."
Roberts teased the July 21 CBS Evening News story: "Coming up on the CBS Evening News, the plot thickens: Was a State Department memo the source for that leak of a CIA agent's name? We'll have the 'Inside Story.'"
Roberts set up the subsequent piece: "There's news tonight involving the federal investigation into who leaked the identity of a CIA operative and blew her cover. It turns out a key portion of a two-year-old State Department memo that is now at the center of the controversy was classified, and that could mean leaking it was a crime. Gloria Borger has the 'Inside Story.'"
Borger began: "At the time the State Department wrote its memo, the administration's key rationale for war in Iraq was crumbling. No weapons of mass destruction had been found, and some key intelligence used to make the administration's case had proven false. An internal war raged inside the administration over who was to blame. The State Department's 2003 memo was written to make one thing clear: Don't blame us.
The MRC's Ken Shepherd noticed that in their story Post reporters Walter Pincus and Jim VandeHei acknowledged, in reference to the paragraph mentioning "Valerie Wilson," that: "Anyone reading that paragraph should have been aware that it contained secret information, though that designation was not specifically attached to Plame's name and did not describe her status as covert, the sources said."
For the July 21 Post article in full: www.washingtonpost.com
Before a commercial break he offered this plug: "And the Karl Rove controversy not going away tonight. New details will be revealed on this program about the State Department memo at the center of the Valerie Plame case. Secret, it said? It said much more than that. You are watching Countdown on MSNBC."
Another plug for the upcoming segment: "The Valerie Plame probe: New information that anybody in the government who saw the memo about her CIA work should have known it was secret. Why? Because the memo was marked 'S.' At least 'S.' Maybe more. See if you can guess what 'S' might have meant."
At 8:34pm EDT, Olbermann finally got to his payoff: "Who blew the secret identity of CIA covert operative Valerie Plame to the media is far from being firmly established. But that he or she absolutely should have known they were leaking secret information seems tonight to have become pretty much unshakeable fact. Our third story in the Countdown, the State Department memo with her name on it also was marked with a big letter 'S.' In one of our government's few instances of clarity and transparency, 'S' stands for secret. There is, in fact, news developing right now that the terminology is even more emphatic and obvious than just the word 'secret.'
Olbermann then highlighted comments from Bill Clinton (see item #2 below for more): "And though a string of new revelations in the leak investigation has given ample ammunition to the Democrats in recent weeks, one prominent Democrat deciding to hold his fire. The former President, Bill Clinton, this morning on the Today show."
Olbermann wrapped up with a plug for his Friday night guest: "One promotional advisory on this story. Our special guest on tomorrow night's edition of Countdown, his first reactions to Mr. Bush's statement, the reports that the document was marked 'secret,' 'top secret,' Ambassador Joseph Wilson, the husband of the outed CIA agent, Valerie Plame, 8pm and Midnight, Eastern; 5 and 9pm Pacific tomorrow here on Countdown on MSNBC."
NBC's Katie Couric queried former President Clinton about Karl Rove's situation, as if Clinton is a good judge of ethical standards. On Thursday's Today, in an interview taped earlier, Couric reminded Clinton that "President Bush has said it's a fire-able offense now if a crime was committed" and wondered if "in your view is the ethical violation enough to warrant dismissal?" Clinton suggested a policy he certainly didn't follow when his operatives disparaged Ken Starr: "My view is we should wait until all the facts are in and the prosecutor makes whatever report he's gonna make and all the people who are involved make available whatever information will be made available."
Couric set up the July 21 Today session, caught by the MRC's Geoff Dickens: "Now to President Bill Clinton. Since leaving office five years ago he has spent a prodigious amount of time on the road for his foundation promoting AIDS awareness and prevention. Earlier this week I spoke with him from Johannesburg, South Africa, part of his six nation tour of Africa. I began by asking him why Africa has been more affected by AIDS than any other place in the world."
Couric's fourth question: "President Clinton as you well know President Bush has been under fire recently because Karl Rove allegedly released the identity of a CIA agent to reporters. President Bush has said it's a fire-able offense now if a crime was committed, but in your view is the ethical violation enough to warrant dismissal?"
From South Africa, Clinton responded: "Well of course that's a decision that the President has to make about the people who work for him but let me say I've been through some of these things. My view is we should wait until all the facts are in and the prosecutor makes whatever report he's gonna make and all the people who are involved make available whatever information will be made available. I know that Valerie Plame's husband, Joe Wilson is a good man, a career diplomat who voted for my opponent in 1992. He voted for former President Bush. But I think what happened to her and what's happened to him were terrible."
Couric didn't remind Clinton of how he reacted to investigations, but she did at least hit him with a Republican talking point: "What do you make of Republicans who claim that Democrats would like nothing better than to see Karl Rove out of the picture because he's such a brilliant political strategist?"
ABC's Charles Gibson hyped at the top of Thursday's Good Morning America that there are "new questions about President Bush's pick for the Supreme Court, his record, his stand on abortion and why didn't the President pick a woman?" Gibson soon pressed Attorney General Alberto Gonzales about whether he was "disappointed that President Bush didn't make history and name the first Hispanic-American to the Court?" Gibson framed the promise that Judge John Roberts will "not legislate from the bench" as a pledge not touch the "settled law" of Roe v Wade: "Does that mean that this will be a justice who will not be overturning settled law, i.e. Roe v. Wade?" On CBS's Early Show, Hannah Storm also wanted to know if Gonzales was "disappointed" and she quizzed him about the Rove case.
Kate Snow provided a look at Roberts' visits to Senators on Wednesday and then noted: "Interest groups and Senate staffers are pouring over Roberts' record. In two years on the federal bench he supported states' rights in a case about an endangered toad in California, gone against criminals complaining about their treatment, upheld the President's power in fighting the war on terror....Liberal groups warned Roberts might tear down abortion rights, but it's unclear how he personally feels. The White House says the President has not asked. On Wednesday, one critique of President Bush, Sandra Day O'Connor, the retiring justice, said she's disappointed the President didn't choose a woman. O'Connor went on to say that she's not disappointed in Roberts, himself. She said she thinks he's first rate. And, Charlie, with so many Democrats seeming to agree with that assessment, that he's first rate, this may not be a drag-down, knock-down kind of fight like we thought it might in the Senate."
Gibson's questions to Gonzales, as taken down by the MRC's Brian Boyd:
-- "Now, more on the political battle over President Bush's new Supreme Court nominee. Joining us from Washington is the Attorney General of the United States, Alberto Gonzales. General Gonzales, good to have you with us...Let me ask you about diversity on the Court. Let me have you put yourself aside for just a moment. Are you disappointed that President Bush didn't make history and name the first Hispanic-American to the Court?"
-- "And I know you would feel that way, very supportive of the President. I'm just asking for a personal reaction. Are you personally, just wish that he would have named an Hispanic-American?"
-- "The President has said John Roberts would not legislate from the bench. He didn't want a nominee who would legislate from the bench. Does that mean that this will be a justice who will not be overturning settled law, i.e. Roe v. Wade?"
-- "Some Democrats are asking for memos to be turned over, internal documents that Judge Roberts may have written when he was Deputy Solicitor General at the Justice Department. Will the Justice Department give the Senators what they want?"
Over on CBS's Early Show, Gonzales also appeared from Washington, DC and the MRC's Ken Shepherd tracked the questions posed by Hannah Storm:
-- "There had been a lot of buzz about you, Attorney General, being a top candidate and thus making history as the first Hispanic on the Supreme Court. Are you disappointed?"
-- "I'd like to ask you about what Sandra Day O'Connor said about Roberts's nomination. She said, 'I am disappointed, in a sense, to see the percentage of the women on our court drop by 50 percent, but I can't be disappointed in the quality of the person nominated. He's first rate.' Why didn't the President nominate a woman, and what do you think about her comments in that regard?"
-- "A real hot button issue in the confirmation process does figure to be abortion. Now, Roberts has argued that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided, but he's also called Roe v. Wade the settled law of the land. Do you or the President know where he stands on abortion?"
-- "But during the confirmation hearings, this figures to come up. How much should each side try to get Roberts on the record about an issue like abortion?"
-- "I want to turn to the controversy surrounding the President's deputy chief of staff, Karl Rove, did he break the law in revealing the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame?"
Which way is it? "U.S. Soldiers in Iraq Report Low Morale," declared an AP headline on Thursday, but the Washington Post headlined its article about the very same Army report, "Survey: Morale Improving Among Soldiers in Iraq." A USA Today story from Monday may break the tie and suggest which spin is more accurate. While the media have highlighted months in which new recruiting has fallen short of goals, the July 18 USA Today article reported that "soldiers are re-enlisting at rates ahead of the Army's targets..."
An excerpt from the top of the July 21 AP dispatch from Washington, DC by Robert Burns:
A majority of U.S. soldiers in Iraq say morale is low, according to an Army report that finds psychological stress is weighing particularly heavily on National Guard and Reserve troops.
Still, soldiers' mental health has improved from the early months of the insurgency, and suicides have declined sharply, the report said. Also, substantially fewer soldiers had to be evacuated from Iraq for mental health problems last year.
The Army sent a team of mental health specialists to Iraq and Kuwait late last summer to assess conditions and measure progress in implementing programs designed to fix mental health problems discovered during a similar survey of troops a year earlier. Its report, dated Jan. 30, 2005, was released Wednesday.
The initial inquiry was triggered in part by an unusual surge in suicides among soldiers in Iraq in July 2003. Wednesday's report said the number of suicides in Iraq and Kuwait declined from 24 in 2003 to nine last year.
A suicide prevention program was begun for soldiers in Iraq at the recommendation of the 2003 assessment team.
The overall assessment said 13 percent of soldiers in the most recent study screened positive for a mental health problem, compared with 18 percent a year earlier. Symptoms of acute or post-traumatic stress remained the top mental health problem, affecting at least 10 percent of all soldiers checked in the latest survey.
In the anonymous survey, 17 percent of soldiers said they had experienced moderate or severe stress or problems with alcohol, emotions or their families. That compares with 23 percent a year earlier....
END of Excerpt
For the AP story in its entirety: news.yahoo.com
Morale among U.S. soldiers in Iraq has improved since the start of the war in 2003, and the soldiers' suicide rate dropped by more than half last year, according to an Army mental health survey released yesterday.
The Army's second Mental Health Advisory Team report paints an improving picture of how soldiers are handling their tours and how medical personnel are dealing with mental health problems. The team surveyed more than 2,000 soldiers from last August to October, and concluded that aggressive efforts to improve mental health care and to make soldiers aware of combat stresses have been successful.
A majority of soldiers fighting in Iraq, however, reported that morale is still a problem, with 54 percent saying that their unit morale is "low" or "very low," and only 9 percent reporting "high" or "very high" morale. During the first survey in late summer 2003, 72 percent of soldiers reported low morale.
The survey also reported that when soldiers were asked about their own morale -- as distinct from their unit's morale -- there was marked improvement from 2003 to 2004: 52 percent described their morale as low or very low in the first survey, and that number dropped to 36 percent in 2004.
"There have been substantial improvements made in the quality of life in theater, particularly access to air conditioned sleeping quarters, better facilities . . . better food and [dining facilities], and improved communication home through telephone and e-mail," according to the report, dated Jan. 30, 2005. "These likely help buffer the negative effects of combat."...
END of Excerpt
For the Post story in full: www.washingtonpost.com
Soldiers are re-enlisting at rates ahead of the Army's targets, even as overall recruiting is suffering after two years of the Iraq war.
The high re-enlistment rates would make up about one-third of the Army's projected 12,000-troop shortfall in recruiting, although the re-enlistments won't address some key personnel vacancies, such as military police and bomb-disposal experts.
Army officials attribute the strong re-enlistment rates to unprecedented cash bonuses and a renewed sense of purpose in fighting terrorism. Some of the record bonuses are tax-free if soldiers re-enlist while in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Re-enlistment bonuses range from as little as $1,000 to as much as $150,000, depending on the type of job and length of re-enlistment. The $150,000 bonuses are offered only to senior special operations commandos who agree to stay in the military for up to six more years. The average bonus is $10,000, said Col. Debbra Head, who monitors Army retention at the Pentagon.
From Oct. 1 through June, the Army had re-enlisted 53,120 soldiers, 6% ahead of its goal of about 50,000 for that period. At that pace, the Army would finish the fiscal year 3,850 troops ahead of its target of 64,162.
Re-enlistment rates the past three years have been at least 6% above the service's goals for the 500,000-member active Army. There are about 105,000 Army soldiers in Iraq, including members of the National Guard and Reserve.
"The biggest thing is that soldiers believe in what they are doing," Head said....
END of Excerpt
For the USA Today story in full: www.usatoday.com
Moyers' moralistic mask uncovered. Back in 1964, former Acting Attorney General Laurence Silberman recalled in a Wednesday Wall Street Journal op-ed, then-Lyndon Johnson aide Bill Moyers contacted then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to request that he "do an investigation of [Republican presidential candidate Barry] Goldwater's staff to find...evidence of homosexual activity." When this became public in 1975, Moyers, Silberman revealed, initially claimed the memo with his name on it "was another example of the Bureau salting its files with phony CIA memos." But when Silberman offered to conduct an investigation and promised to "publicly exonerate" Moyers if the memo was proven fake, Moyers conceded that he did make the request.
Silberman's disclosure, highlighted Thursday night by FNC's Brit Hume in his "Grapevine" segment on Special Report with Brit Hume, came in the July 20 op-ed about what Silberman found in Hoover's files of dirt on politicians.
An excerpt from "Hoover's Institution: Anecdotes from the FBI crypt -- and lessons on how to win the war," Silberman's op-ed:
I recently completed a rewarding year as co-chairman of President Bush's commission on intelligence, and I propose to discuss our recommendations regarding the FBI in light of my own unique experience with J. Edgar Hoover....
I became deputy attorney general in early 1974, after the "Saturday night massacre." Having seen printed rumors of the "secret and confidential files" of J. Edgar Hoover (who had died in 1972), I asked Clarence Kelly, the very straight and honorable director of the bureau, whether they existed. He assured me that they did not. If they ever did they must have been destroyed.
I was shocked then, when on Jan. 19, 1975, as acting attorney general, I read a front page story in the Washington Post confirming the existence of the files. The story pointed out that the files contained embarrassing material collected on congressmen. When I confronted Kelly, he was initially mystified. He then realized the Post must be referring to files in his outer office, in plain sight, which he had inherited but never examined. Sure enough, they were the notorious secret and confidential files of J. Edgar Hoover.
The House Judiciary Committee demanded I testify about those files, so I was obliged to read them. Accompanied by only one FBI official, I read virtually all these files in three weekends. It was the single worst experience of my long governmental service. Hoover had indeed tasked his agents with reporting privately to him any bits of dirt on figures such as Martin Luther King, or their families. Hoover sometimes used that information for subtle blackmail to ensure his and the bureau's power....
We told the committee that the bureau had sought, at the direction of a political figure, to gather unfavorable information on his opponent during an election campaign. Rep. Herman Badillo of New York pressed me to admit that it was an investigation of Allard Lowenstein, an antiwar candidate running against Rep. John Rooney, the powerful chairman of an appropriations panel with jurisdiction over the FBI. I repeatedly denied that and finally said it involved the presidential campaign of 1964. Shortly thereafter, Don Edwards, the chairman, terminated the hearing. But reporters dug out more facts.
Only a few weeks before the 1964 election, a powerful presidential assistant, Walter Jenkins, was arrested in a men's room in Washington. Evidently, the president was concerned that Barry Goldwater would use that against him in the election. Another assistant, Bill Moyers, was tasked to direct Hoover to do an investigation of Goldwater's staff to find similar evidence of homosexual activity. Mr. Moyers' memo to the FBI was in one of the files.
When the press reported this, I received a call in my office from Mr. Moyers. Several of my assistants were with me. He was outraged; he claimed that this was another example of the Bureau salting its files with phony CIA memos. I was taken aback. I offered to conduct an investigation, which if his contention was correct, would lead me to publicly exonerate him. There was a pause on the line and then he said, "I was very young. How will I explain this to my children?" And then he rang off. I thought to myself that a number of the Watergate figures, some of whom the department was prosecuting, were very young, too.
Other presidents, according to those files, misused the bureau, although never Truman and Eisenhower. But Johnson clearly was the most demanding....
END of Excerpt
For the op-ed in full, as posted by the Wall Street Journal's free site, OpinionJournal.com: www.opinionjournal.com
-- Brent Baker