Worth Reading (Fiction)

  • Alfred Duggan: Lord Geoffrey's Fancy
    Perhaps the finest book of one of England's finest historical novelists. The setting is 13th Century Greece, where Crusaders fought each other and the shattered Byzantine Empire. The history is accurate, the writing graceful and the characters not merely modern people in fancy dress. (*****)
  • Charles L. Harness: Cybele, With Bluebonnets
    A touching, understated fantasy featuring Depression era Texas, youthful romance, chemistry, a ghost and love beyond death. (****)
  • Charles W. Chesnutt: Stories, Novels, and Essays (Library of America, 131)
    Fiction and essays by a black American writer who deserves a wider audience. (****)
  • Clark Ashton Smith: The White Sybil and Other Stories
    A slim, representative sampling of Ashton Smith's weird, richly worded fiction. The best pieces are highly readable today; the less good are at least entertaining and will enhance the reader's vocabulary. (****)
  • Connie Willis: Inside Job
    The editor of a paranormal-skeptic magazine and his beautiful assistant encounter a most unlikely ghost: ueber-skeptic H. L. Mencken. Connie Willis in her lightest, funniest vein. Nominated for the Best Novella Hugo Award for 2006. (*****)
  • Connie Willis: All Seated on the Ground
    Connie Willis's annual Christmas story; a comedy about alien visitors who act much like annoyed maiden aunts. Making contact is a twin triumph of civility and true love. The story is also a good test of your knowledge of Christmas carols. 2008 Best Novella Hugo Award nominee. (*****)
  • Connie Willis: D.A.
    Connie Willis sends up overfamiliar "space academy" stories with this one about the only girl on Earth who has no desire to enroll. Then she is informed that her "application" has been accepted. Is it a weird mistake? A devious plot? Can she get out? Funny, though the moral is rather pat. (*****)
  • Dan Simmons: Drood: A Novel
    Mysterious events in the life of Charles Dickens, as told by his friend and rival Wilkie Collins. The plot involves involves mesmerism, violent deaths, an ancient Egyptian cult, specters, brain-eating scarabs, a Wilkie doppelgänger, and a gigantic conflagration beneath the streets of London. Or does it? The opium-addled Collins is the exemplar of the doubtfully reliable narrator. (*****)
  • David Selbourne: The City of Light
    Supposedly the journal of Jewish merchant who visited China c. 1270, this historical novel uses an encounter between Judaism and medieval China as a springboard for a lightly disguised examination of contemporary political and moral issues. Since Selbourne is a fascinating thinker, his characters' thoughts are fascinating, too. (****)
  • E. Viollet-Le-Duc: Annals of a Fortress: Twenty-Two Centuries of Siege Warfare
    The history of a fictional French fortress from the 4th Century B.C. through the Napoleonic Wars, featuring detailed accounts of seven sieges. (****)
  • H. N. Turteltaub [Harry Turtledove]: Over the Wine-Dark Sea
    First in a series of O'Brian-like nautical adventures set in the tumultuous times following the death of Alexander the Great. The Aubrey and Maturin are merchant cousins, devil-may-care Menedemos and intellectual Sostratos, who roam the Mediterranean looking for profit and girls, while avoiding storms, pirates and jealous husbands. Meandering plot but great fun. (*****)
  • H. N. Turteltaub [Harry Turtledove]: The Sacred Land
    Third volume in a series of seafaring adventures set in the Hellenistic era. Ill-matched merchant cousins Menedemos and Sostratos seek profit in exotic Tyre and Jerusalem. (*****)
  • Harry Turtledove: Gunpowder Empire
    Debut of a juvenile series set in parallel worlds. 22nd century teen siblings, trapped without adult aid in a besieged city, must cope with the bizarre (to them) customs and prejudices of a never-fallen Roman Empire. [Rating is for 11-17 year olds; adults may find the book too didactic and unsubtle for their tastes.] (*****)
  • Harry Turtledove: The Man with the Iron Heart
    Can the U.S. maintain its resolve against a defeated enemy's terrorist campaign? Imagining a post-World War II Nazi insurgency, Harry Turtledove puts this question into a new context. As Reinhard von Heydrich's "werewolves" devastate Germany, war-weary Americans call for withdrawal, regardless of the consequences. (*****)
  • Harry Turtledove: After the Downfall
    Magically plucked from Berlin in 1945, a Nazi soldier finds himself in a parallel world that challenges his cultural assumptions. A well delineated picture of conflict between widely disparate civilizations, with a reminder that backwardness is not the same as stupidity. (****)
  • Iain Pears: An Instance of the Fingerpost
    Mystery set in Restoration England. The murder of an Oxford don is recounted from four widely different viewpoints. Heavy on period detail. Metamorphoses into theological fantasy at the end, which may displease some readers. (****)
  • Jack McDevitt: Time Travelers Never Die
    A pleasant, though insubstantial, addition to an overcrowded subgenre. After inheriting a time machine, an aimless young man and his friend play temporal tourists. Not a whole lot ensues, and there are some silly mistakes (such as Greeks wearing togas). Still, it goes down smoothly, and the inevitable paradoxes are handled quite well. (****)
  • James Patrick Kelly: Burn
    In a galaxy-spanning future, the planet Walden is a self-proclaimed "paradise" founded on simplicity and rejection of high technology. It also faces the problems of terrorism and disillusion, recounted through the story of a firefighter with a soul-corroding secret. A well-wrought picture of a distinctly odd society, with a plot whose moral dilemmas evade pat answers. Nominated for the Best Novella Hugo Award for 2006. (*****)
  • Jasper Fforde: The Well of Lost Plots
    Thursday Next continues her hectic adventures in a universe where books come alive, literally. Newcomers should start with The Eyre Affair (****)
  • Joe Haldeman: The Accidental Time Machine
    Maybe all the variations on time travel are played out, but Joe Haldeman makes the old tropes enjoyable in this story of a down-on-his-luck grad student who invents a time machine without really trying. The resolution of the ensuing paradoxes comes very near to being credible. (****)
  • Joe Haldeman: Marsbound
    Martian colonies are an old subject for SF, and this novel is in some ways an old-fashioned treatment, with the traditional elements of young settler, contact with Martians, and an alien menace. The plot and characters are so well done, however, that the story is fresh. The flavor is Heinleinesque, but the heroine is no Podkayne of Mars. (*****)
  • John Derbyshire: Fire from the Sun
    Three-decker novel about the contrasting, intersecting lives of a Chinese boy and girl, born in the same mainland village and brought to America by force of circumstances. Romantic and compelling. (****)
  • Kathleen Ann Goonan: In War Times
    The author builds this multiple universes story around her father's World War II diary, which is at least as interesting as the energetic, but not wholly coherent, main plot. The ending is a JFK assassination theory with a Ron Paulian(!) twist. Also included is more than I wanted to read about the WWII jazz scene. Overall, a book I would have liked to like better and that others may enjoy vastly. (****)
  • Matthew Pearl: The Dante Club
    Literary mystery involving Boston's post-Civil War intellectual elite in a series of atrocious murders inspired by Dante's Divine Comedy. Weak as a whodunit, strong on atmosphere. (****)
  • Michael Flynn: Eifelheim
    A double narrative: the appearance of shipwrecked aliens in a 14th Century German village and the 21st Century discovery of the event. The interaction between a brilliant human theologian and rather ordinary denizens of an advanced civilization challenges chronologically based prejudices. 2007 Hugo Award nominee (*****)
  • Mike Resnick: A Club in Montmartre: An Encounter with Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
    Something different from this SF great's facile pen: An historical novel about Toulouse-Lautrec and the creation of his famous Moulin Rouge poster, seen from the point of view of a waif sheltered by the troubled artist. One in a series called Art Encounters, aimed at YA's but instructive and entertaining for anyone. (*****)
  • Neal Stephenson: Anathem
    If you have not a smidgen of interest in how Platonic philosophy relates to the "many worlds" version of quantum mechanics, you still may like this novel, though you'll probably wish that the characters talked less. Persevere. After a slow start, the story grows compelling, and the intellectual dialogues turn out not to be digressions. (*****)
  • Neil Gaiman: Anansi Boys
    Calling this comic novel a "sequel" to American Gods conveys the wrong impression. Anansi Boys is smaller in scope, funnier and more humane, though it likewise tells a story of dwindling gods adrift in the contemporary world. Anti-hero "Spider" steals the show and begs to be played by Will Smith in the movie version. (*****)
  • Peter Watts: Blindsight
    The exploration of a giant alien artifact twists that familiar subgenre with a plausible, though ultimately unconvincing, argument that human self-awareness is a deleterious evolutionary accident. Characters include a vampire, a linguist with multiple personalities, a couple of cyborgs and a narrator whose special skill is absence of empathy. 2007 Hugo Award nominee (****)
  • Powers, Tim: Declare: A Novel
    An intricate Cold War fantasy that seems so plausible that one wonders whether it is the true story of why the Soviet Union rose and collapsed. (*****)
  • Prescott, H.F.M.: The Man on a Donkey
    Set during the Pilgrimage of Grace, this is the rare historical novel that captures the mindset of the actors. The hero, Robert Aske, was martyred in a way that makes burning at the stake look merciful. (*****)
  • Richard Calder: Babylon
    A teenage girl in an alternative Victorian England, where the cult of Ishtar remains a living force, escapes her unhappy home for the fantastic world of "Babylon". She is to be trained as a sacred whore but is soon caught up in a secret war between the Illuminati, who dominate Earth, and their vicious enemies, the "Black Order". Her ultimate fate is bizarre indeed. (****)
  • Robert Ferrigno: Prayers for the Assassin
    A combination of suspense novel and a plausible vision of America after a Moslem takeover. It loses a star only because defeating the super-villain is just a trifle too easy. Review. (****)
  • Robert Ferrigno: Sins of the Assassin
    The middle volume of a trilogy about a near-future, Moslem-dominated U.S. Most of the action takes place in the independent "Bible Belt", where resistance to Islamic domination is sometimes heroic and sometimes pathological. More of a pure thriller than its predecessor but good on its own terms (****)
  • Rodney Bolt: History Play : The Lives and Afterlife of Christopher Marlowe
    A pseudo-history springing from the premise that Shakespeare's flashy predecessor survived the famous Deptford brawl and fled to the continent, where he secretly wrote almost all of the Bard's works. A clever, tongue-in-cheek reworking of literary history, with the bonus of vividly recreating the milieu shared by many real Elizabethan exiles. (****)
  • Shauna Roberts: Like Mayflies in a Stream
    The epic of Gilgamesh, retold with the mythical elements kept to a minimum and an emphasis on how unpleasant it can be to live in the vicinity of a legendary hero. The heroine is well done: a woman who shapes her own life without being an anachronistic proto-feminist. The author's attention to historical and archaeological data is commendable. (****)
  • Simon Montefiore: Sashenka: A Novel
    Both grim and funny, this historical novel peers into the inner world of an upper class Russian girl turned loyal Bolshevik, highlighting her youthful fling at revolution-making in Petrograd, her fall from grace under Stalin, and an historian's effort, after the end of communism, to ascertain her fate. (*****)
  • Steven E. Plaut: The Scout
    Short novel based on the true story of an Arab scout in Israeli service. (****)
  • Terry Pratchett: Going Postal
    A small-time con man must choose between death and the Ankh-Morpork post office - and takes the more dangerous option. Big business, fraud, low-tech hacking, young love and general hilarity. Pratchett's best novel since Pyramids. (*****)
  • Terry Pratchett: Thud!
    After 30 books, one might fear that Discworld is in danger of fatigue. Au contraire, this witty, vigorous tale of the culmination of an ages-old conflict between dwarfs and trolls, with Sam Vimes and Ankh-Morpork in the middle, is one of the strongest volumes yet. (*****)
  • Terry Pratchett: A Hat Full of Sky
    Ostensible children's book that will also appeal to adults. The education of a young witch — far more "realistic" than Harry Potter. (*****)
  • Terry Pratchett: Nation
    The first non-Discworld Pratchett in decades has the familiar mix of serious plotting and underlying farce, as an iconoclastic Polynesian lad and a properly raised Victorian lass carry on through tsunami, plague, shipwreck, pigs, pantaloon birds, gods, grandparents and cannibals. A tribute to courage in the face of physical and metaphysical ordeals - and funny, too! (*****)
  • Theodore Odrach: Wave of Terror
    Based on the author's experiences when the Soviet Union occupied his homeland after the Stalin-Hitler Pact, this book melds Chekov and Solzhenitsyn. By stages, the isolated folk of the Pripyet Marshes learn that there are worse masters than their former Polish overlords. (*****)
  • Tim Powers: Three Days to Never: A Novel
    Time travel, ghosts, Albert Einstein's daughter, ancient conspiracies, a blind assassin, a Mossad agent who will die if he hears the telephone ring: With his customary bravura and skill, Tim Powers fashions a coherent and exciting story out of a strange assortment of materials. (*****)
  • Tim Powers: On Stranger Tides
    The classic tale of piracy and the supernatural. What the Pirates of the Caribbean movies should have been. (*****)
  • Tobias S. Buckell: Crystal Rain
    An inventive tale of a human colony isolated from galactic civilization, split between warring cultures and caught up in a vast conflict between alien races. Characters include an amnesiac ex-hero who wants to spend a peaceful retirement with his family, a quasi-human killing machine, a spy desperate to betray his masters, and a harried female dictator. Deserving of Hugo consideration. (****)
  • Vernor Vinge: Rainbows End: A Novel With One Foot In The Future
    In a near future in which every crank can deploy WMD's that make contemporary Islamofascists look like schoolboys, a poet who has lost his talent and his spunky granddaughter find themselves up against a conspiracy to solve the world's problems by eliminating free will. The careful extrapolation is mixed with some silly ideas and burdened with a sentimental Alzheimer's recovery story. 2007 Hugo Award nominee (****)
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« Indictments and Opportunities | Main | The Disinformation Campaign Begins »

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Comments

A CIA officer’s name was blown, there was an apparent leak of information to friendly reporters in the national media, national security was at stake, a news reporter was eventually jailed, an administration mover and shaker called: “Scooter” has been indicted for possible obstruction of justice, perjury, and making false statements, and the federal judge assigned to the case was appointed by the same executive branch and had previously served in the White House Media Affairs Office.

Is there just too much by happenstance for this to be just a coincidental thing?

What a saga, sometimes humorous, sometimes crazy and gripping, but in fact, really serious, with each new segment so far finishing with a cliff hanger leaving the country eager for more information. It’s a tangled web of lies, cover-up, judgment of others, and corruption at the highest level of government (an unnecessary war with Iraq). It involves the po-po (the FBI), an assistant to the president of the United States, the chief of staff to the vice president, an assistant to the vice president for national security affairs, and a ruff neck (keeps it real and knows the streets) judge who once admitted as a junior in high school he discovered his father’s guns and straight razor and started sneaking them out of the house tucked into his pants (one of the fights escalated from punching to a boyhood friend being stabbed nine times with an ice pick). There’s also the highly unusual (August 2005) fight where this same federal judge wrestled a man to the ground during a traffic incident on the Chevy Chase Circle (Washington, D.C.).

Maybe it’s just a part of the George W. Bush legacy? Maybe it’s just an element of indeterminacy in human actions which often works in favor of true disclosure? Nonetheless, both political parties would prefer for their own reasons not to pursue the truth, and the media will be content to go along with the typical hyperbole (cover-up), and the greater peril will be to the public’s confidence in the fair and impartial administration of justice.

The American judiciary was placed into the frame work of our system so that no one branch of government could become too powerful and exercise its powers unduly either over the other branches or the American people. For many the separation of power has basically disappeared.

I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, vice president Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, although indicted by a federal grand jury on five charges related to the CIA leak probe (one count of obstruction of justice, two counts of perjury, and two counts of making false statements), appears to be confident that at the end of this process he “will be completely and totally exonerated.” Karl Rove, president Bush’s top political adviser, who testified four times before the grand jury and wasn’t indicted (but not yet out of legal jeopardy), said through his attorney Robert Luskin, “We are confident that when the special counsel finishes his work, he will conclude that Mr. Rove has done nothing wrong.”

But, how can they be so confident? Both Libby and Rove as senior government officials with responsibilities for national security matters (entitling them to access to classified information) were obligated by applicable laws and regulations, including Title 18 United States Code, Section 793, and executive Order 12958 (as modified by executive order 13292) not to disclose classified information to persons not authorized to receive such information, and otherwise required to exercise proper care to safe guard classified information against unauthorized disclosure.

At issue is Joseph Wilson, who was married to Valerie Plame Wilson. Mrs. Wilson was employed by the CIA and her employment status was classified. Prior to July 14, 2003, her affiliation with the CIA was not common knowledge outside the intelligence community. In 2002, after an inquiry to the CIA by the vice president concerning certain intelligence reporting, the CIA decided on its own initiative to send Wilson to the country of Niger to investigate allegations involving Iraqi effort to acquire uranium yellow cake, a processed form of uranium ore. Wilson orally reported his findings to the CIA upon his return.

On or about January 28, 2003, president Bush delivered his State of the Union Address which included “sixteen words” to justify war with Iraq asserting that “the British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. But as part of the American system of check-and-balances on May 6, 2003, the “New York Times” published a column by Nicholas Kristof of which disputed the accuracy of the “sixteen words” president Bush used in the State of the Union Address. The column reported that the ambassador sent to investigate the allegations had reported back to the CIA and State Department in early 2002 that the allegations were unequivocally wrong and based on forged documents (It’s just impossible to operate a clear conspiracy where all the pieces fit together).

On or about June 23 and the morning of July 8, 2003, Libby met with “New York Times” reporter Judith Miller and discussed Wilson’s trip and his belief that Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA. When the conversation turned to the subject of Joseph Wilson during the second meeting, Libby asked that the information Libby provided on the topic of Wilson be attributed to a “former Hill staffer” rather than to a “senior administration official.” An under secretary of state had orally advised Libby on or about June 11 or 12, 2003, while in the White House that, in sum and substance, former ambassador and career state department official Joseph Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA. Additionally, the vice president himself had also advised Libby that Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA in the counter-proliferation division.

Shortly thereafter, on July 10 or July 11, 2003, Libby spoke with Rowe, who advised Libby of a conversation Rowe had earlier that week with columnist Robert Novak in which Wilson’s wife was discussed as a CIA employee involved in Wilson’s trip. Libby was advised by Rowe that Novak would be writing a story about Wilson’s wife.

On September 26, 2003, the Department of Justice authorized the Federal Bureau of Investigation to commence a criminal investigation into the possible unauthorized disclosure of classified information regarding the disclosure of Valerie Wilson’s affiliation with the CIA to various reporters in the Spring of 2003. A major focus of the grand jury investigation was to determine which government officials had disclosed to the media prior to July 14, 2003 information concerning the affiliation of Valerie Wilson with the CIA, and the nature, timing, extent and purpose of such disclosures, as well as whether any official making such a disclosure did so know that the employment of Valerie Wilson by the CIA was classified information (conducted an investigation into possible violations of federal criminal laws, including Title 50, United States Code, Section 421 – Disclosure of the identity of covert intelligence personnel; and, Title 18, United States Code, Sections: 793 Improper Disclosure of National Defense Information, 1001 False Statements, 1503 Obstruction of Justice, and 1623 Perjury).

As part of the criminal investigation, Libby was interviewed by special agents of the FBI on or about October 14 and November 26, 2003, each time in the presence of his counsel. But, during the interviews, Libby is accused of lying about material facts related to the disclosure of Valerie Wilson’s affiliation with the CIA. Libby is said to have knowingly and corruptly endeavored to influence, obstruct, and impede the due administration of justice, namely proceedings before the grand jury, by misleading and deceiving the grand jury as to when, and the manner and means by which, Libby acquired and subsequently disclosed to the media information concerning the employment of Valerie Wilson by the CIA. He is also said to have knowingly and willfully made a materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statement and representation in a manner within the jurisdiction of the federal bureau of investigation. If convicted, the crimes charged in the indictment carry the following maximum penalties: Obstruction of Justice – 10 years in prison; Making False Statements and Perjury – each 5 years; and each count carries a maximum fine of $250,000.

A George W. Bush appointee will determine the appropriate sentence to be imposed, if any. Judge Reggie B. Walton, with a minimal academic performance in high school, poor grades in college, and very poor showing on the law boards, enrolled into the CLEO program and somehow managed to earn an academic scholarship to American University College of Law. He graduated in 1974 and took a job as a public defender in Philly (Philadelphia). In 1976, he left that job for a position at the D.C.’s United States Attorney’s office. Here, he met Bob Bennett (brother of William Bennett Drug Czar appointed by George H.W. Bush) and in an attempt to establish credibility on minority issues the republicans appointed Walton to the number two drug czar position. For the next two years that followed, Walton traveled the country spreading the republican anti drug message to black communities.

In 1981, Ronald Reagan appointed Walton to the D.C. Superior Court. But for unexplained reasons in 1989, Judge Walton moved to the White House Office of Media Affairs. Only to be appointed again in 1991 by George H.W. Bush to the D.C. Superior Court. President Bush appointed him to the federal bench (District of Columbia) on October 29, 2001.

Please note Judge Walton’s tenure in the White House Communications Office (considered an element of the continuing campaign). The office often calls local radio stations, television stations, and newspapers daily to see if they’d be interested in an interview with an administrative figure. It also has a supporting element (research units) available not only for the communications head but to the chief of staff and other white house senior staffers.

Since his appointment to the bench, Judge Walton has been assigned the majority of the most troubling legal matters involving the Bush administration. An appointed judge should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety, but Judge Walton's willingness to often speak (for the administration it seems) on highly charged partisan issues further shakes public confidence in the judiciary. For example, following the death of Terri Schiavo, Judge Walton was dispatched to speak with NPR’s Ed Gordon about what he considered liberal “activism” in the U.S. Courts.

In 1998, the republican appointee enumerated some of the standard racist conceptions often voiced by the right wing, telling Judy Cresanta and Kari Larney of the Nevada Policy Research Institute “bad parenting, bad neighborhoods and guns” fuels the problem with youthful offenders. However, in the book “Black Judges on Justice” Judge Walton had a black moment (said something really gangsta) and did admit as one of his major frustrations while working with the Bush administration, his inability to convince administration officials of the fact that fighting crime is ineffective without attacking social causes of crime.

Judge Walton is the federal judge who threw out a lawsuit filed by a whistle-blower who alleged security lapses in the FBI’s translator program, ruling that Sibel Edmond’s claims might expose government secrets that could damage national security. He said that he couldn’t explain further because his explanation itself would expose sensitive secrets and disrupt diplomatic relations. Edmond’s lawyer, Mark S. Zaid, called the decision “Another example of the executive branch’s abuse of secrecy to prevent accountability.” Ms. Edmond, a former contract linguist, alleged in her lawsuit that she was fired in March 2002 after she complained to FBI managers about shoddy wiretap translations. She contended that she told the FBI an interpreter with a relative at a foreign embassy might have compromised national security. Although the government’s lawyers met with Judge Walton at least twice privately, Edmond had claimed the republican appointee dismissed her lawsuit without hearing evidence from her attorneys.

In September 2005, Judge Walton dismissed two claims, but left open the possibility Steven Hatfill, a scientist once named by the Department of Justice as a possible suspect in the anthrax-letter attacks of 2001, could hold officials accountable (count seeking a declaration that former Attorney General John Ashcroft and others unconstitutionally deprived him of employment opportunities). A fourth claim seeking monetary damage from the federal government for alleged privacy act violations, also remains alive, but two counts to hold defendants individually responsible were dismissed. The judge had delayed the case saying that he wanted the Department of Justice investigation of the issue to proceed without interference from Hatfill’s civil suit. Many observers of the investigation dismissed the judge’s pronouncements about the case – the government had been periodically advertising impending breakthroughs since just about the time the spore-ridden letters were mailed out, some critics pointed out. Mr. Hatfill, a bio-terrorism expert, contends his reputation was ruined when law enforcement officials called him a “person of interest.” Hatfill once worked as a researcher at the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Frederick, Md. At one time the FBI had Hatfill under 24-hour surveillance.

Judge Walton also ruled that a Missouri charity financed terrorism and is connected to a similarly named organization in Sudan, dismissing a lawsuit filed by the Islamic American Relief Agency – USA, which is based in Columbia, Mo. The charity had sought to thaw its assets which the treasury department froze in 2004. Lawyers for the Missouri charity had denied any link to terrorism and had said the charity is entirely separate from the Sudanese organization. Judge Walton said his decision was based on both public records and classified documents. Shareef Akeel, a Michigan lawyer representing the charity said nothing in the public part of the record showed that the charity had sent money out of the country for illegal purposes.

In a case involving a request for documents on the Oklahoma City bombing which resulted in convictions of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, Judge Walton held that FOIA plaintiff (Judicial Watch) was required to file an administrative appeal for the documents, even if they were suing over the agency’s refusal to grant expedited processing. Judge Walton said the Judicial Watch was attempting to “bootstrap” its disclosure requests onto its bid for expedited processing. Although it appears that the FBI subsequently failed to timely respond to Judicial watch’s substantive request for documents within 20 days, Judge Walton said he will only consider those facts and circumstances that existed at the time of the filing of the complaint, and not subsequent events.

A coalition of hunting supporters that included Safari Club International and numerous other sportsmen’s groups were dealt a blow by Judge Walton when in 2004 he dismissed their attempt to stop black bear hunting in New Jersey’s National Park Service Lands.

In January 2004, Judge Walton held the longstanding ban on the sale and possession of handguns in Washington, D.C., is constitutional. The suit, brought by the National Rifle Association, challenged the constitutionality of the handgun ban on Second Amendment grounds. In the ruling, Judge Walton dismisses the suit, noting that, “The Court must conclude that the Second Amendment doesn’t confer an individual right to posses firearms. Rather, the amendment’s objective is to ensure the vitality of state militias."

Finally, a three-judge panel of a federal appeal court unanimously reversed Judge Walton, ruling that the public has the right to challenge an interior department official’s approval of the proposed Roundup Power Plant despite studies showing that it would pollute air in Yellowstone National Park and Wilderness areas. The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District Court of Columbia Circuit affirmed the public’s legal right to challenge a political appointee’s approval of the proposed power plant. Judge Walton had dismissed the case saying the conservation groups lacked standing because the ultimate permitting agency was the State of Montana. The National Parks Conservation Association, The Greater Yellowstone Coalition, The Wilderness Society, and a Denver resident alleged the Interior Department officials violated the Clean Air Act which prohibits degradation of air quality by man-made sources in pristine air sheds such as parks and wilderness areas.

Am I the only one troubled by the manner in which this indictment came about? It seems that the special counsel had to have known very quickly that Plame did not qualify as a covert agent. That does not mean he should have folded up his tent at that point, but the fact that he allowed the impression to remain that Libby could be prosecuted for outing a covert agent bothers me. Fitzgerald may have been trying to use a potential charge of outing a covert agent as leverage to get Libby and others to cooperate. If so, he was also providing the motivation to commit perjury. (Even if Libby believed he could beat such a charge in court, the mere indictment on the charge of outing a covert agent would have been devastating to Libby and the Administration.)

This is a kissing cousin of entrapment. No one should lie to the FBI or under oath. Neither should they break the law just because the cops encouraged them to do so. Still, we allow the otherwise guilty to go free if the police "entrapped" them to break the law. What about when a prosecutor allows unfounded fear of an indictment to prompt someone to be creative with their testimony? Prosecutors ought not use baseless threats of prosecution to pressure witnesses. Doing so MIGHT increase the chance a witness cooperates, but it also increase the likelihood the witness' memory might be faulty. Besides, it's unseemly to charge someone for lying in response to what was, in effect, the prosecutor's own lie.

Please keep in mind, people:

'I heard that too' is NOT a confirmation of anything and confers no underlying information.

It gives no information as to the source.

It doesn't even indicate whether the speaker believes the information to be true.

Great post. From my experience, a prosecutor who puts out a case which essentially relies on three tenuous witnesses with other agendas than mere truthful testimony has motives other than winning a trial. What do you think?

Good points by Steve in terms of Libby's cooperation and state of mind.

IN addition to the waivers, the investigation relied on Libby's own notes as a road map (Be 10 2004 NY Times).

Per the indictment, by his second interview with the FBI at the latest (the indictment does not separate the two FBI interviews), the FBI knows that Libby learned about Plame from Cheney.

Did his own notes guide the investigators to his other contacts - the indictment does not say, but *if* they did, that should count in Libby's favor - the argument would be that it never dawned on him that the FBI was confused about when he learned about Plame, since it was right in his notes.

Of course, if his notes concealed those other conversations, that might be bad.

1. Tim Russert – The Libby version: Mr. Russert asked him whether Mr. Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA and averred that her employment was well known among reporters. Mr. Libby found this information surprising. The indictment: The conversation was about a different subject altogether, and Mrs. Wilson never came up.

Yeah, I thought the conversation was about a different subject, too (and I am not sure why I thought that - is that stated in the indictment, or just implied?)

Anyway, Christmas comes early - at TNR, Matthew Crowley has nominated a Chris Matthews rant from July 8 about Libby, Wilson, and Niger as the probable impetus for Libby's call.

SO Russert's real story is, we talked about Wilson's trip, but not his wife.

And Libby's story is, we talked about the trip and the wife. That is a much narrower chasm.

Great job.

(Cooper has a new article in TIME where he seems to question his own memory. And remember, he was weak on the question of whether he and Rove discussed welfare reform. I think Fitzgerald has one witness).

I think you're right in that the indictment comes down to a Libby says he said X to Miller, Cooper and Russert, and the prosecution says Libby really said Y to them... which means that Fitzgerald's star witnesses are bona fide members of the MSM, one of which is married to a partisan Democrat, another used to work for a Democrat and the third's credibility is being trashed by her own employer.

Second, as I've pointed out, it makes no sense for Libby to have given Miller, Cooper and Russert waivers if he knew they would contradict his story. Better for him to quit than to hand the keys to a prosecution over to Fitzgerald.

Third, the indictment alleges that Libby lied during meetings his own attorney attended. Since attorneys can't sit quietly while their clients lie, either Tate had to be ignorant of what Libby really knew, and documents that likely passed through Tate's office would have revealed, or Tate also believed that Libby was telling the truth.

Fourth, Fitzgerald's statement said Libby lied to the FBI in order to get them to go away. But how does pointing them in the wrong direction make them go away. Libby supposedly tells a story to the FBI and the FBI beats a path to Russert, Cooper and Miller. This is like a suspect offering up as an alibi someone he knows isn't going to cover for him... but unlike a typical suspect who's trying to come up with an excuse while being pressured by the police, Libby had lots of time to think about what he was going to say to the FBI... and the idea that he would send them to people who wouldn't back his story up is very hard to accept.

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Books by Tom Veal

  • : Clicks & Colluders

    Clicks & Colluders
    Hillary Clinton won in 2016, but not as expected. Her narrow victory sparks intrigue, catching a callow reporter in a fast spinning news cycle.

Worth Reading (Non-Fiction)