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Cue The Oversight


Reader Bustedknuckles spotted an article in the Baltimore Sun (via RawStory) regarding the lawyering up that the Bush Administration is hurriedly doing prior to the start of the Democratically controlled Congress in January.   According to Charlie Black (who is identified only as a "strategist with close ties to the White House" and not as a long-time GOP operative and spokesperson for the RNC and for George Bush):

Republicans close to Bush say any such moves would not come until the White House sees how aggressive Democrats are in trying to pry the lid off the inner workings of the administration.

"They just think it's inevitable that there will be some investigations that will tie up some time and attention," said Charles Black, a strategist with close ties to the White House. But there's no panic in the ranks of Bush's team, he added. "They don't think they have anything to hide."

Bush still must do what he can now — before Democrats take over the majority in Congress next month — to prepare, legal specialists say.

Well, if Charlie Black, long time PR spinmeister for the RNC says it, then it must be true.  Especially when it is backed up by such honest background information coming from folks with no political or personal agenda such as Mark Corallo, who clearly would have no interest whatsoever in doing anything other than ginning up business for his new CYA firm with Barbara Comstock just being frank and open with the journalist:

"It's certainly not lost on them that there will be more investigative requests and more things for them to respond to, but I don't think that you're going to see any dramatic changes," said Reginald Brown, a former associate in Bush's White House counsel's office who is now in private practice.

Democrats' stated intention to conduct more rigorous oversight of the Bush administration "simply will mean that [White House officials] need a few more people to manage the paper flow," Brown said.

Veterans of investigative battles between the White House and Congress predict that Bush ultimately will need to add staff members — or at least borrow some from government agencies — to contend with Democrats with subpoena power on Capitol Hill.

"Like any White House that has to deal with a Congress run by the other party, this White House has to bulk up its staff to deal with the inevitable flood of subpoenas. They're also going to have to coordinate with lots of friends and supporters," said Mark Corallo, a former top Republican aide to the House committee that issued more than 1,000 subpoenas to the Clinton camp.

Corallo and Barbara Comstock, another Republican public-relations executive with broad experience in Hill investigations, are launching a crisis-communications firm to serve officials and corporations who, Corallo said, could end up as "drive-by victims" in a new round of probes.

Snow said the firm is "certainly independent of the White House."  (emphasis mine)

Oh sure. Certainly independent. Uh huh. Nothing to see here…moving right along.  Just "a few more people to manage the paper flow."  Mmmmm-hmmmmm.  "Drive-by victims"?  Please — do we look like we just fell off the politics truck yesterday?

Digby did a post on the 24th of December regarding Eleanor Clift's "snooker list" — on the stories that the Administration was able to squelch somehow or to misdirect the press away from over the past year.  Digby added to that list, as did Teresa at Making Light. I know there are more — this attempt at misdirection from the White House on their lawyering up being "just another day" at the White House notwithstanding — there is a reason that Republican strategists are suddenly seeing a hefty profit margin in the representation of folks on their side of the aisle who could potentially face being indicted and/or subpoenaed come January.

You have to wonder what these folks who have been so integral to the behind-the-scenes public relations know — because they have, up to now, been working as the forward face of GOP-PR.  Suddenly, they are switching to indictment protection and prevention?  It's not just out of the goodness of their heart — they see dollar signs in this — and big ones.

The fact that so many Republican strategists are beefing up their own manipulative spin operations to plant stories such as this one in the press in advance of the Democrats even beginning any oversight hearings says a lot to me.  Not the least of which is that they have a feeling that there is a whole lot of something that they want to keep hidden from the public view.

And I, for one, would like us to keep working on that list of lies and hidden stories — because therein may be found some of the things on which oversight is the most sorely needed.   If you can think of additions to the list, please add them in the comments below.

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com