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  • Monday, February 21, 2005


    Half Vast

    We begin with a flashback:

    Gil Davis and Joe Cammarata, Paula Jones lawyers of record, weren't the sort of attorneys attracted to the highly ideological Federalist Society milieu. But two of the young lawyers working with them, George Conway and Richard Porter, a former Dan Quayle aid who had joined Kenneth Starr's firm Kirkland and Ellis in its Chicago home office, were among the group's active members. At the urging of Conway and Jerome Marcus, another young Federalist lawyer, a group of Federalist-affiliated law professors and constitutional lawyers had signed "friend of the court" briefs in 1994 supporting Jones' right to proceedings against the president while in office.

    Now, as the date for argument on that issue in the Supreme Court approached, the young Federalist attorneys in the Jones camp called upon two of the organization's legal eminencies to help prepare Davis and Cammarata. During the first week of January, they brought Davis and Cammarata to the Army-Navy Club for a coaching session with Robert Bork, who had addressed the founding conference of the Federalist Society at Yale in 1982, and Ted Olson, the chairman of its powerful Washington chapter.


    For two hours the lawyers sat around a table eating sandwiches, as Olson and Bork advised Davis how best to present his brief urging that the case against Clinton proceed immediately to trial. To the justices, Olson emphasized, the most pressing problem would be whether the President should be distracted from his elected job, and how the lower court could address his special needs. He urged Davis to convince the high court that Jones would accommodate the president in terms of court dates, depositions, and other infringements on his schedule.

    As they all prepared to leave, Davis said, "Someday somebody will ask me who was present at this meeting." Did anyone mind his name being mentioned? Olson didn't seem to care, neither did Bork. But Conway and Marcus, who had kept their participation in the Jones case from their law partners--some of whom were Democrats close to the White House--continued to insist upon complete anonymity.


    "After gathering preliminary evidence to test the information¹s reliability, the OIC presented the evidence to Attorney General Janet Reno. Based on her review of the information, the Attorney General determined that a further investigation by the Independent Counsel was required."

    But that wasn't quite how it all happened. The January 12 date, for example, is deceptive. The OIC learned about Monica S. Lewinsky at least several days earlier than the report acknowledges, and from sources whose complicity with his investigation Kenneth Starr had powerful motives to conceal. In Michael Isikoff's version of the story in Uncovering Clinton, "it was not clear who first had the idea" of bringing the independent counsel into the Paula Jones case. Isikoff lists several possibilities: Lucianne Goldberg, Linda Tripp, Jerome Marcus and Richard Porter. Additional candidates would be Ann Coulter and George Conway, two more of the so-called elves helping Jones.

    But there is no doubt that the members of this group were in contact with one another from September 1997 onward, and that Goldberg, Tripp, Coulter, and Conway, at least, were regularly in touch with Isikoff. According to the Newsweek reporter (whose book expresses deep discomfort at his having become "a player--one of the acts in the scandal circus"), he never realized he was being used as a cat's-paw in a conspiracy against Clinton.


    Rosenzweig traveled up from Washington for the January 8 dinner at the elegant Deux Cheminees restaurant in Philadelphia. Porter, Kenneth Starr's law partner and Lucianne Goldberg's conduit to the Jones lawyers, flew in from Chicago. "Largely for the hell of it," Isikoff reports, Conway came by train from New York. It was Conway whose timely leaks to the Drudge Report had helped prevent the Jones case from being settled several months earlier, and who had just that day helped find another Federalist Society lawyer to represent Linda Tripp. "Pure serendipity" is how Jerome Marcus later described the gathering.

    Before the others arrived that Thursday evening, according to Marcus, he had informed Rosenzweig "very briefly" about the tale of the president and the intern, Jordan's efforts to find Lewinsky a job, and Linda Tripp¹s tapes. "I don't know if it's real or not," he said. "But do you think this is something that your office would be interested in?"

    Rosenzweig didn¹t know, but would make it his business to find out. On the following Monday, January 12, Lucianne Goldberg called Linda Tripp. From Washington, Rosenzweig had called Marcus in Philadelphia, who had called Porter in Chicago, who had called Goldberg in New York, who had relayed the message back to Tripp in Washington. A deputy independent counsel named Jackie Bennett was definitely interested. But Tripp would have to call him directly. For the sake of propriety, the information would have to come in by "the front door."

    Even if the participants' accounts are taken at face value, it was surely no accident that the January 8 dinner was omitted from the Starr Report. For Rosenzweig to be meeting with a clique of attorneys who had helped the Jones team was bad enough. But the participation of Porter, as Starr's law partner, presented the OIC with ethical problems. Avoiding even the appearance of impropriety was the whole point of the Independent Counsel Act. It specifically states that "any person associated with a [law] firm with which such independent counsel is associated may not represent in any matter any person involved in any investigation or prosecution."

    Moreover, as Clinton attorney David Kendall pointed out when Porter¹s role came to light, by law "a legal representation of a client by one partner is attributable to all partners."

    Jump forward to 2004...

    The Democrats have nominated Viet Nam war hero John Kerry to run against President George W Bush who, as a self-professed "War President" finds the story regarding his desertion from the Texas National Guard, during the same war that Kerry is distinguished himself in, beginning to find traction with the larger media outlets.

    About this time a woman approaches Bill Burkett, a retired TANG officer with a longtime vendetta against George Bush, with a memo that confirms the story that Burkett has been telling for many years, but which has only led to his developing a reputation as a bitter crank who hates Bush.

    Burkett has battled the Guard for years since his retirement in 1998. He complained he did not receive adequate medical care when he became seriously ill after returning from a mission to Panama, and that Guard officials retaliated against him because he had conducted a management study critical of the Guard. Burkett told the New York Times he was hospitalized for depression in 1998 after suffering a nervous breakdown.

    Regarding the woman:

    Burkett now maintains that the source of the papers was Lucy Ramirez, who he says phoned him from Houston in March to offer the documents. USA TODAY has been unable to locate Ramirez.

    When Burkett gave copies of the documents to USA TODAY, it was on the understanding that his identity would not be disclosed. USA TODAY honored that agreement until Burkett waived his confidentiality Monday.

    "I didn't forge anything," Burkett said. "I didn't fake any documents. The only thing I've done here is to transfer documents from people I thought were real to people I thought were real. And that has been the limitation of my role. I may have been a patsy."

    Within three hours of the documents broadcast on CBS, Harold McDougald posting as "Buckhead" on FreeRepublic posts:

    To: Howlin Howlin, every single one of these memos to file is in a proportionally spaced font, probably Palatino or Times New Roman. In 1972 people used typewriters for this sort of thing, and typewriters used monospaced fonts. The use of proportionally spaced fonts did not come into common use for office memos until the introduction of laser printers, word processing software, and personal computers. They were not widespread until the mid to late 90's. Before then, you needed typesetting equipment, and that wasn't used for personal memos to file. Even the Wang systems that were dominant in the mid 80's used monospaced fonts. I am saying these documents are forgeries, run through a copier for 15 generations to make them look old. This should be pursued aggressively. 47 posted on 09/08/2004 8:59:43 PM PDT by Buckhead [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies ]

    According to Trickster over at Tacitus:

    MacDougald is an Atlanta lawyer in the firm of Womble Carlyle et al. He has no professional background in printing or office equipment and his legal expertise lies elsewhere. He graduated from Brown University in 1980, and assuming he is the same Harry W. MacDougald who graduated in 1976 from Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia--and my research reveals he very probably is--he would not have been old enough to have used typewriters on a professional basis in 1972-73.

    However, Mr. MacDougald does have another sort of expertise: the Republican variety. He is a member of the Federalist Society and is on the Legal Advisory Board of the Southeastern Legal Foundation, which advocates "limited government, individual economic freedom, and the free enterprise system." MacDougald helped draft the petition to the Arkansas Supreme Court that led to the five-year suspension of former President Clinton's license to practice law in that state, and worked with Mitch McConnell and Ken Starr to unsuccessfully challenge the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law. He is a Republican appointee to the Fulton County Board of Registration and Election.

    Next comes Powerline and LGF:

    Buckhead's doubts were No. 47 in a list of 217 comments, on one of dozens of such discussion threads. But they were noticed by Tom Mortensen and Liz MacDougald who, the next morning, emailed the link to Scott Johnson, a lawyer in St. Paul. Sitting at home, Johnson reprinted Buckhead on the blog he runs with two fellow lawyers, Power Line (powerlineblog.com), at 8:51 A.M., and then went to work. When he arrived at the office, he had nearly 50 reader emails waiting for him from people like John Risko, a former Navy clerk and typist, who explained why he, too, thought the memos might be forged.

    Powerline, as we all know, is run by three attorneys in Minnesota with various conservative "think tank" connections and interesting views regarding political discourse. History will show that the hitherto unknown Powerline boys rode the "Rathergate" story to fame and continuing media appearances.

    Jump forward to 2005...

    Having underhanded one softball question too many to Presidential Press Secretary Scott McClelland, faux Talon journalist "Jeff Gannon" is outed as gay prostitute James Guckert which is just the kind of story that has the ability to wake a complacent and cowed press. In the course of investigating Gannon/Guckert we learn that:

    After the CBS TANG story and the subsequent kerning saga, the right wanted someone to pay. The focus of the story soon turned to Mary Mapes, senior producer for 60 Minutes. Mapes, a highly respected, award-winning producer, had previously brought the Abu Ghraib photos to the world's attention. By the end of "Rathergate," however, she'd lost her credibility and her job...and J.D. Guckert was right in the middle.


    “Valid questions are being raised regarding the Bush White House’s relationship with James Guckert, also known as “Jeff Gannon,” and his access to documents that revealed the identity of Undercover CIA Operative Valerie Plame.

    “This issue is important from an ethical as well as from a national security standpoint. It is hard to understand why a man with little real journalism experience was given a White House press corps credential let alone access to sensitive security documents. In fact, it only raises questions as to the nature of the relationship between “Jeff Gannon” and the White House, and whether there was an alliance of interests that did not conform to ethical and security standards. President Bush’s father, President George H.W. Bush, called the disclosure of an undercover operative’s identity treason.

    When asked about Gannon, Powerline's Hindrocket writes:

    The presence of a Bush-friendly journalist in the White House press corps was taken by the left as a deep affront. A study conducted a few years ago found that the White House press corps is 90% Democratic; apparently the left won’t be satisfied until the figure is 100%. So liberals began “investigating” Gannon. They found that he was a homosexual and started posting photos of him on their web sites, along with vicious personal attacks. Gannon, stunned by the virulence of the left’s attack on him, quit his job at Talon. Subsequently, a low-life named John Aravosis who is a gay activist and has a web site, found nude photos of Gannon and posted them online.

    Ever since this “story” broke, we have been inundated by emails from leftists demanding to know why we aren’t covering it. Actually, we have done a single post on the controversy, which explained why we don’t think there is any story there.

    The Rocket, confronted with the many gaps in his logic, fires back at an emailer:

    You dumb shit, he didn't get access using a fake name, he used his real name. You lefties' concern for White House security is really touching, but you know what, you stupid asshole, I think the Secret Service has it covered. Go crawl back into your hole, you stupid left-wing shithead. And don't bother us anymore. You have to have an IQ over 50 to correspond with us. You don't qualify, you stupid shit.

    ...and has since been taken out to the woodshed by the other Powerliners:

    I thank all of our readers who have written to express their support, encouragement, and appreciation of him and of our site in response to Rocket Man's expression of regret for the intemperate message he sent one of our emailers. Rocket Man has declared a brief moratorium on reading our email, but I have let him know of the response to his post below and want you to know that, although we are unable to acknowledge the messages individually, they are sincerely appreciated.

    ...and then there is this

    So...where am I going with this?

    Well, when I read that a Congressman from New York said (sorry, Little Green Hitlers link, you don't have to click):

    Well, you know, they are manipulating the media, they did it in the very beginning through intimidation. They would intimidate the people in the, uh, in the press conference. And ... they would ask — they would allow questions to be asked only of people that they knew were going to ask the right kind of questions, from their point of view. And, you know, that has its effect, had, had its effect on people. People have been — people in the media have been intimidated. The media has changed in the last four years. People have changed in the last four years. They’ve had a very very direct, aggressive attack on the, on the media, and the way it’s handled. Probably the most flagrant example of that is the way they set up Dan Rather. Now, I mean, I have my own beliefs about how that happened: it originated with Karl Rove, in my belief, in the White House. They set that up with those false papers. Why did they do it? They knew that Bush was a draft dodger. They knew that he had run away from his responsibilties in the Air National Guard in Texas, gone out of the state intentionally for a long period of time. They knew that he had no defense for that period in his life. And so what they did was, expecting that that was going to come up, they accentuated it: they produced papers that made it look even worse. And they — and they distributed those out to elements of the media. And it was only — what, like was it CBS? Or whatever, whatever which one Rather works for. They — the people there — they finally bought into it, and they, and they aired it. And when they did, they had ’em. They didn’t care who did it! All they had to do is to get some element of the media to advance that issue. Based upon the false papers that they produced.

    I think that we have some people who are afraid that they have built their house of cards on top of a quagmire. (Note to self: send that one to Doug Giles)

    Connect the dots any way you want.

    It's a free country, you know. At least it used to be...


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