Friday, October 14, 2005

Confidential Source Week

In the never-ending scramble to make every tourist feel super-lucky to have arrived at Pensacola Beach just when they did, each week of the year beach business promoters stretch a big banner across the island entrance declaring that they're celebrating some supposed local festival or another.

Everyone is guaranteed to be here during "Crabfest" or "Lobsterfest" or "Shrimp Boil Days" or "Chicken Wings Week," and other such silliness. If village welcoming banners were regulated by consumer protection authorities, Pensacola Beach could be arrested about 46 weeks out of the year.

One friend and long-time beach resident cynically calls these phony events "menu celebrations." She once predicted the chamber of commerce would soon be making a banner to proclaim "Salt & Pepper Week."

Now, we've got a better idea. Let's officially designate this as "Confidential Source Week." Pensacola actually has some small connections to famous confidential sources in the journalism world, you may be surprised to learn.

It was right here in Pensacola a few years ago that Alabama football coach-for-a-coupl'a-days Mike Price patronized a local strip joint gentlemen's club. He was soon 'outed' by a "confidential source" who talked to Time Magazine, and lost his coaching job before the football season even started.

Price immediately sued Sports Illustrated over the expose. On Monday, Time, Inc. and its Sports Illustrated reporter Don Yeager reached an out-of-court settlement:
Price sued the magazine for $20 million, claiming he was defamed and slandered by a story detailing his actions the night in April 2003 when he visited the topless bar Arety's Angels while still head coach at Alabama.

* * *
He acknowledged being heavily intoxicated but denied allegations of sex at Crowne Plaza Pensacola Grand Hotel that the magazine reported. Alabama fired Price a few days before the article was published.
The case even made national news when a federal appeals court panel ruled in July that Alabama law did not protect Sports Illustrated from having to identify a confidential source whose identity was sought by Price's lawyer, Steven Heninger of Birmingham, Ala. Just a month ago, another court decision on rehearing concluded that if Heninger could establish any witness was lying when she denied being the confidential source, the magazine's lawyers would not have to inform the court.

It must have been shortly after Price's lawyer took testimony from some or all of the potential "confidential sources" that the money negotiations really got exciting. Pole dancing witnesses can do that to guys wearing 3-piece business suits.

But now Time Magazine is claiming that after the 'confidential' settlement was reached, coach Price or his lawyer breached it by disclosing that --
Lori "Destiny" Boudreaux, a dancer at Arety's, gave a sworn affidavit saying she was Yaeger's confidential source. The affidavit was not part of the 11th circuit's record when it ruled, [Heninger] said.

Heninger said Boudreaux's account to the magazine was based on hearsay and not direct knowledge of what happened in Price's hotel room.

"She was never in the room. No sex. She merely told Yaeger there were two people there. That's all they had," he said.
Ooops! The very next day, according to the Washington Post:
"Time Inc. asked a judge to throw out its settlement and dismiss defamation claims of former Alabama football coach Mike Price over a Sports Illustrated article recounting his night of drunken partying at a Florida strip joint, court documents showed Wednesday.

In a motion filed in federal court, Time claimed Price and his lawyer, Steve Heninger, violated an agreement to make only limited public comments about the deal, reached last week to resolve Price's $20 million defamation suit against the magazine, which Time publishes.

Heninger denied violating the settlement's terms.
Apparently, Time Inc. is claiming that Heninger or his client broke the agreement by 'outing' Destiny as the 'confidential source' -- even though she seems in reality not to have been an eye witness to anything that happened in the hotel room.

The case promises to make more law in the growing field of confidential sources, so quick! Break out a new beach festival banner! How about "Shaky Witness Week"?

Then there's Bush administration guru Karl Rove, who returned to testify to a grand jury today for the fourth time.

Karl doesn't live on Pensacola Beach, but he is building a Panhandle beachhouse close by. Whether he'll get to live in it any time soon is up to a grand jury that's now investigating the 'outing' of CIA undercover operative Valerie Plame.

Over a 15 year period Plame used a Boston international trade company as cover to build a worldwide network of spies specializing in weapons of mass destruction. Her cover was blown and her network probably endangered when neocon columnist Bob Novak identified her as a "CIA operative" who was married to former ambasador Joe Wilson. In the article, Novak wrote his information came from "two senior administration officials."

Joe Wilson and his wife, it would seem, were added to a White House enemies list after Wilson published an article in the New York Times daring to question Mr. Bush's claim in a State of the Union address that Saddam Hussein had attempted to buy uranium from the African country of Niger. After Wilson's article appeared, the White House admitted that Bush had his facts wrong and Wilson was right.

It was long speculated that, just like Destiny the dancer, Rove was one of the "confidential sources" for more than six reporters who were fed the same line Novak published. One of them was Matt Cooper who is -- are you ready? -- a reporter who also works for a Time, Inc. magazine.

Cooper initially refused to testify before the grand jury investigating the Valeria Plame affair. Late this summer, however, he changed his mind, fingered Rove in front of the grand jury, and then told all in the magazine's pages.

It's also known that before the Iraq War Rove chaired the White House Iraq Group, a now-infamous cabal of "senior Administration people" and neocon ideologues who 'stove-piped' unverified intelligence about Iraq direct to the Oval Office, as Seymour Hersh reported two years ago:
What the Bush people did was “dismantle the existing filtering process that for fifty years had been preventing the policymakers from getting bad information. They created stovepipes to get the information they wanted directly to the top leadership. Their position is that the professional bureaucracy is deliberately and maliciously keeping information from them.

“They always had information to back up their public claims, but it was often very bad information,” Pollack continued. “They were forcing the intelligence community to defend its good information and good analysis so aggressively that the intelligence analysts didn’t have the time or the energy to go after the bad information.”

The Administration eventually got its way, a former C.I.A. official said. “The analysts at the C.I.A. were beaten down defending their assessments. And they blame George Tenet”— the C.I.A. director— “for not protecting them. I’ve never seen a government like this.”
Ever since reporter Cooper testified in July, news reports have speculated that Rove is at risk of being charged with perjury. As Murray Waas of the National Journal wrote recently:
Rove's being called before the grand jury a fourth time and so late in the inquiry is a strong indication that Fitzgerald is "attempting to tighten up the noose" and is contemplating criminal charges against Rove. [Prof. Stephen] Gillers said that if Fitzgerald is "pursuing a potential case for false statements, perjury, or obstruction, every time Rove speaks at this point, he is taking a risk. For better or worse, he is locked into his previous statements and testimony."
Once again - quickly, now! Let's have another beach banner.

How about we celebrate "Perjured Witness Week"?

1 comment:

MnMnM said...

Grand Jury testimony of Karl Rove leaked by Rove-ing reporter (humor). Please keep my identity a secret. Double super Secret. I could call in and have my voice disguised and/or my face blocked out. Please send me an email if you plan to use this. Thanks.

Middle-aged, Middle-of-the-road, Mid-Westerner

Testimony of Karl Rove, the White House Deputy Chief of Staff (of the United States) [COSTUS]. How much will COSTUS cost us?

It is posted at: