Thursday, February 10, 2005

The Appearance of Impropriety, part 5

As a followup to the Jeff Gannon story, Gannon has resigned from public life. Revelations about his other revenue sources likely fueled his abrupt vanishing. References to him are disappearing as every conservative website that ever published him scrambles to unpublish him. As word reaches us of his possible involvement in the Valerie Plame affair, Rep. Slaughter and Sen. Lautenberg are calling on the administration to explain itself. Kos provides the last word - for today, at least.

Why should we care about Jeff Gannon?
A potential male prostitute gets White House credentials using a fake name, provides McClellan a welcome ideological lifeline during press conferences, and somehow gets access to classified CIA documents that outs an undercover CIA operative.


Blogger Management said...

White House-friendly reporter under scrutiny

By Charlie Savage and Alan Wirzbicki, Globe Staff and Globe Correspondent | February 2, 2005

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration has provided White House media credentials to a man who has virtually no journalistic background, asks softball questions to the president and his spokesman in the midst of contentious news conferences, and routinely reprints long passages verbatim from official press releases as original news articles on his website.

Jeff Gannon calls himself the White House correspondent for, a website that says it is "committed to delivering accurate, unbiased news coverage to our readers." It is operated by a Texas-based Republican Party delegate and political activist who also runs, a website that touts itself as "bringing the conservative message to America."

Called on last week by President Bush at a press conference, Gannon attacked Democratic Senate leaders and called them "divorced from reality." During the presidential campaign, when called on by Press Secretary Scott McClellan, Gannon linked Senator John F. Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, to Jane Fonda and questioned why anyone would dispute Bush's National Guard service.

Now, the question of how Gannon gets into White House press conferences is coming under intense scrutiny from critics who contend that Gannon is not a journalist but rather a White House tool to soften media coverage of Bush. The issue was raised by a media watchdog group and picked up by Internet bloggers, who linked Gannon's presence in White House briefings to recent controversies over whether the administration manipulates the flow of information to the public.

These include the disclosure that the Education Department secretly paid columnist Armstrong Williams to promote its education policy and the administration's practice of sending out video press releases about its policies that purport to be "news stories" by fake journalists.

McClellan said Gannon has not been issued -- nor requested -- a regular "hard pass" to the White House, and instead has come in for the past two years on daily passes. Daily passes, he said, may be issued to anyone who writes for an organization that publishes regularly and who is cleared to enter the building.

He said other reporters and political commentators from lesser-known newsletters and from across the political spectrum also attend briefings, though he could not recall any Internet bloggers. McClellan said it is not the White House's role to decide who is and who is not a real journalist and dismissed any notion of conspiracy.

Nonetheless, transcripts of White House briefings indicate that McClellan often calls on Gannon and that the press secretary -- and the president -- have found relief in a question from Gannon after critical lines of questioning from mainstream news organizations.

When Bush called on Gannon near the end of his nationally televised Jan. 26 news conference, he had just been questioned about Williams and the Education Department funds, an embarrassment to the administration. Gannon's question was different.

"Senate Democratic leaders have painted a very bleak picture of the US economy," Gannon said. "[Minority Leader] Harry Reid was talking about soup lines, and Hillary Clinton was talking about the economy being on the verge of collapse. Yet, in the same breath, they say that Social Security is rock solid and there's no crisis there. How are you going to work -- you said you're going to reach out to these people -- how are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality?"

As it turned out, Reid had never talked about soup lines. That was a phrase attributed to him in satire by Rush Limbaugh on his radio show.

Last year, during the presidential campaign, Gannon's comments could be even more pointed. In a Feb. 10, 2004, briefing with McClellan, for example, Gannon rose to deliver the following:

"Since there have been so many questions about what the president was doing over 30 years ago, what is it that he did after his honorable discharge from the National Guard? Did he make speeches alongside Jane Fonda, denouncing America's racist war in Vietnam? Did he testify before Congress that American troops committed war crimes in Vietnam? And did he throw somebody else's medals at the White House to protest a war America was still fighting?"

David Brock, the former investigative journalist who made his name revealing aspects of former President Bill Clinton's extramarital affairs, said he was watching last week's press conference on television and the "soup lines" question sparked his interest because it "struck me as so extremely biased." Brock asked his media watchdog group, Media Matters for America, to look into Talon News.

It quickly discovered two things, he said. First, both Talon and the political organization GOP USA were run by a Texas Republican activist and party delegate named Bobby Eberle. Second, many of the reports Gannon filed for Talon News "appeared to be lifted verbatim from various White House and Republican political committee documents."

Eberle did not return phone calls yesterday, and Gannon declined to comment. He did reply to Brock's group on his personal blog: "In many cases I have liberally used the verbiage provided on key aspects of the issue because it is the precise expression of where the White House stands -- free of any 'spin.' It's the ultimate in journalistic honesty -- unvarnished and unfiltered. If only others would be as forthcoming."

1:20 AM  
Blogger Management said...

Jeff Gannon aka Jim Guckert, and gay smut
by kos
Tue Feb 8th, 2005 at 14:47:46 PST

Oh man, reality is truly stranger than fiction.

"Jeff Gannon", the White House press propagandist "correspondent" for the fake "Talon" news service, turns out to be using a nom de plume.

A group of dKos diarists have been peeling away the layers of Gannon's fake persona, summarized by World O'Crap. In one of those diaries, this revelation is made by Radically Bitter: Among the domains owned by Gannon/Guckert are these:
In case this isn't clear enough, those last three are gay sex-themed names. Suddenly, his picture looks appropriately in character.

So why is this relevant, other than today seems to have become "Republicans and sex hypocrisy day"?
In reviewing White House press conferences from the past year, Media Matters for America has noted numerous instances in which Gannon's lobs -- leading questions that often include false assumptions favorable to the Bush administration -- have allowed McClellan to move to friendlier turf, away from having to answer questions on such issues as the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment; [...]
So in addition to the "hyprocrisy and sex" thing, we've got the "hypocrisy and gay" thing.

And no, this wasn't planned. It's not my fault the other side unloaded so much hypocrisy in a single day.

(In a sign of how I've lost complete control over this site, I note, with great irony, that I found out about the domain thing from Atrios.)

Update: There is some concern that focus on the more salacious details of Gannon's hypocrisy detracts from more substantive discussions and investigations currently going on by various diariests.

In a way, that may be true. Gannon is a propagandist, funded by god knows who, who essentially provide McClellan a lifeline whenever the White House press corps backs him into a corner.

I, along with most liberals, couldn't care less if one of our colleagues or employees is gay. That's a problem with right wingers, not our side.

So say Guckert's outing costs him his gravy train at Talon "News", and he is replaced by someone else, would that kill the issue?

I don't think so, but I could be wrong. Personally, I think it would add fire to the crusade if they cut him loose. And it's not as if the "propaganda" angle is tied to Guckert. That one belongs to Talon News, independent of which sycophant they have infesting the White House press room every day.

1:23 AM  
Blogger Management said...

More NPR: Ok, Gannon admits that he built the sites in question... but only kind of
by John in DC - 2/9/2005 09:56:09 PM

A separate NPR story today said the following (click the red "Listen" button just underneath the headling, not the other button thart says "Web extra" (you can click that too, but it's not as good):

1. James Guckert is the name Gannon used to apply for press credentials on Capitol Hill, and was turned down.

2. Today he acknowledged that Jeff Gannon is not his real name, but wouldn't confirm it was Guckert.

3. NPR mentioned the "homoerotic tone" Web sites, and specifically mentioned NPR said: "These sites are registered to an address in Delaware that's the same as one held by a James Guckert. And that's the name that Gannon used to apply for press credentials on Capitol Hill. He was turned down."

More from NPR: "As for those Web sites, Gannon said he created them for clients of a software company he used to work for. And Gannon says his Christian faith has enabled him to receive forgiveness for the sins of his past."

NPR didn't bother mentioning WHICH Web sites, Gannon was associated with many, some religious, some conservative and some not just homoerotic, but, hello, - homoerotic isn't the point. Since NPR, bless their souls, was a bit sloppy with their report, we have no idea WHICH Web site Gannon is admitting to having created. If it were, for example, that would be a big deal, because working for a prostitution Web site would probably not gel with Gannon's family-values writing slant, nor with getting access to the President and internal CIA documents.

Oh, and before I forget, this I-found-God business is slightly annoying. I'm happy to believe he had a come-to-Jesus moment, but then why does he still seem to own those Web addresses? I'm not sure finding God gets you over that problem.) Was it before or after he found God that he built those sites, and which sites did he build? Was it before or after he came to Jesus that he was involved in the Valerie Plame affair? And since he's now found God, why not come clean publicly with everything he knows about the Plame scandal?

Oh, and by the way, since prostitution is a crime in most of the US, and you say you're a conservative and a born-again, who was the client you built the Web sites for and who was the consulting firm? And does being a born again forgive the fact that working for a criminal enterprise is still a crime? I'm not saying this was a criminal enterprise, but being paid to help create a prostitution business - IF THAT'S WHAT THOSE SITES WERE - raises some interesting legal questions.

1:24 AM  
Blogger Management said...

`Jeff Gannon' and L'Affaire Plame: Summary of CIA leak
by spiderleaf
Wed Feb 9th, 2005 at 17:04:12 PST

(From the diaries -- kos)

This diary condenses the huge and detailed timeline laid out in the previous diary "Plame leak timeline II".

It lays the case for the leak of the classified 2002 CIA memo to Gannon.

For all interested, please read the original diary as it contains facts, sources, etc.

Thanks to all for your help compiling this, thanks to Ambassador Wilson for filling in some holes and special thanks to Kiw for all her help tracking down leads.

And of course, SusanG, who started the ball rolling and continues to dig for the larger story.

Diaries :: spiderleaf's diary ::

As the Iraq war raged and as the truth surrounding the forged documents that claimed Saddam attempted to buy yellowcake uranium from Niger emerged, a website and news organization came into being... Talon News (March 29, 2003)... owned by Within days `Jeff Gannon', a man with no journalism experience secured White House briefing room press credentials (April 3, 2003).

As the hunt for the supposed WMDs kept going to no avail, Ambassador Joseph Wilson wrote a NYTimes Op-Ed entitled "What I didn't find in Africa" (July 6, 2003). On July 7, 2003 the White House retracted their Niger claim, which was their sole admission to date that the justification for war was not accurate.

Within a week Robert Novak (July 14, 2003) wrote a column and `outed' Joe Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame as a CIA operative and claimed she was responsible for the decision to send Mr. Wilson to Niger. It was quite clear that Novak was trying to discredit the CIA at the behest of "two senior administration officials" by silencing any critics and making the claim that the CIA sent a diplomat vs. an intelligence operative to verify the yellowcake documents for patronage reasons. Novak's CIA source however would not confirm that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA.

Two Newsday reporters, with CIA contacts, attempt to verify that Ms. Plame was an undercover operative, and they do so. They also interview Mr. Novak and he claims that "I didn't dig it out, it was given to me," he said. "They thought it was significant, they gave me the name and I used it."

Two days later, debuts online (July 24, 2003).

Mr. Wilson went on the offensive and started appearing in the press regularly to denounce the administration for using his wife and endangering other field operatives by leaking her name to Novak for political purposes. For months the news is filled with angry ex-CIA officials and journalists covering the outing of an undercover operative for political reasons by the administration. The CIA files a `crime report' with the Department of Justice and finally calls for an investigation.

The Department of Justice decides an investigation is warranted on September 26, 2003.

On September 28, 2003 a source inside the administration tells the Washington Post that at least 6 other journalists were contacted with the leak and claims: "Clearly, it was meant purely and simply for revenge." He stated that he was sharing the information because the disclosure was "wrong and a huge miscalculation, because they were irrelevant and did nothing to diminish Wilson's credibility."

Things are heating up for Novak and the Bush administration. The meme is not spreading according to plan and there is a criminal investigation beginning. Time to provide cover and quick.

On September 29, 2003 Clifford May in NRO tries to insert the claim that Valerie Plame's name "was common knowledge" and that he did not include it in his article on July 11th because he didn't see how it added value to the story. This is obviously a false claim since it definitely would have made a difference in helping to discredit the CIA and push the partisan and patronage claims. No other reporters step forward to verify they knew Valerie Plame worked for the CIA or had anything to do with sending Mr. Wilson to Niger.

Karl Rove's potential involvement is raised by numerous news sources and Novak on CNN continues to push the partisan politics of Wilson, claiming he was a supporter of Clintons.

The White House press briefing is quite contentious on September 30, 2003 with reporter after reporter hammering away at Scott McClellan about who knew what when and what was being done about the leak. And then Jeff Gannon asks his question:

Q Scott, a quote coming out of this controversy is that the real story is why Ambassador Wilson was chosen for this mission. Has the White House asked the CIA why they've sent somebody who was so vehemently opposed to the administration's position on Iraq?

MR. McCLELLAN: Not that I'm aware of. We made it clear that we weren't aware of his trip before we saw it in the media reports, and that still stands. (bold emphasis in WH press release)

Perfect timing on Jeff's part... push the `real story' of why Wilson was chosen. However, it also shows that Gannon has no inside knowledge of the memo purporting to `prove' why Wilson was chosen.

Joe Wilson on Nightline reveals that a journalist (confirmed later as Chris Matthews) called him and said: `I just got off the phone with Karl Rove. He tells me your wife is fair game.'

On October 1st Novak writes a column and contradicts his earlier statements surrounding Wilson and how he came to leak Plame's name. He continues to push that Wilson was a partisan by tying him to the Clinton administration, while neglecting to re-iterate that he himself wrote Wilson was a hero in the H.W. Bush administration in his July 14th column. He also admits that the CIA official he spoke with asked him not to use Plame's name as it "might cause difficulties".

The pressure continues to mount and more people begin to question Rove's role in the leak, including two of his biographers.

On October 2nd, the White House begins to change its tone and push the idea that nothing illegal occurred because Plame's name was `common knowledge'. And this is where Gannon becomes extremely useful. Novak and NRO are well known "conservative" mouthpieces and therefore their claims to have known all about Plame can be questioned. But if a new, fresh off the boat journalist at an unknown news organization knew about her too... well, then it was common knowledge and therefore no crime was committed by leaking her identity. But it takes a bit of time to get him up to speed on the plan... and boy do they need to do damage control, and soon, because journalists are all over the issue and the public believes a crime has been committed.

As well, on October 2nd, the investigation is extended to the Departments of Defense and State and it is revealed that Rove worked on three of Ashcroft's campaigns in the 1980's and 1990's. Further, Jack Oliver, Ashcroft's former chief of staff is now the deputy finance chairman of President Bush's 2004 reelection campaign.

Other operatives may have been put in harms way with the exposure of Plame's name and the front company she used as cover, as reported on October 4th... and of course Novak's column of October 4th reveals the front companies name to the world, as well as confirms that he knew Plame was working under official cover... he also continues to push the partisan politics aspect of Wilson's appointment by revealing that both Plame & Wilson gave $1000 to Gore's election campaign.

On October 6th, Gannon weighs in again and confirms by his tone that he still doesn't know more than what has been in the press reports, but, he knows enough to push the partisan politics meme with this statement:

It was after his article appeared that columnist Robert Novak revealed his wife's name, calling her a "CIA operative." Novak discussed the possibility that Wilson was selected for the assignment in Africa because of the position and influence of his wife at the CIA.

It is still unknown as to the reason Wilson was sent on the February 2002 mission to Niger, but allowed that it could have been at his wife's suggestion. Some have suggested that his clear partisanship cast doubt on the findings in his report.

Yet, between 15 and 21 days later when Gannon conducts a phone interview with Wilson, Gannon references the 2002 CIA memo definitively.

October 7th is an interesting day for the story when it is revealed that before the internal investigation has even begun the White House has ruled out Karl Rove, vice presidential chief of staff Lewis Libby, and National Security Council senior director Elliott Abrams as possible sources for the news leak. It is also revealed that in December 1975, Novak got a classified leak, that President Ford and Secretary of State Kissinger were ready to make concessions to the Soviet Union to save the SALT II treaty. Donald Rumsfeld, then, as now, the secretary of defense, intervened to block Kissinger. The main leak suspect then was Richard Perle, then an influential aid to Senator Henry Jackson (D-Wash.) and at that time a member of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board and a confidant of neoconservatives in the Bush Administration.

The news continues with the information in circulation until October 17th when David S. Cloud from the WSJ mentions the 2002 CIA memo. The first mention other than Novak. Cloud writes:

An internal government memo addresses some of the mysteries at the center of the White House leak investigation and could help investigators in the search for who disclosed the identity of a Central Intelligence Agency operative, according to two people familiar with the memo.

The memo, prepared by U.S. intelligence personnel, details a meeting in early 2002 where CIA officer Valerie Plame and other intelligence officials gathered to brainstorm about how to verify reports that Iraq had sought uranium yellowcake from Niger.

Ms. Plame, a member of the agency's clandestine service working on Iraqi weapons issues, suggested at the meeting that her husband, Africa expert and former U.S. diplomat Joseph Wilson, could be sent to Niger to investigate the reports, according to current and former government officials familiar with the meeting at the CIA's Virginia headquarters. Soon after, midlevel CIA officials decided to send him, say intelligence officials.

Classified memos, like the one describing Ms. Plame's role, have limited circulation and investigators are likely to question all those known to have received it. Intelligence officials haven't denied Ms. Plame was involved in the decision to send Mr. Wilson, but they have said she was not "responsible" for the decision.

Cloud is relying on "two people" who had seen the memo, but presumably not himself. And the intelligence officials he spoke with subsequently did not deny (which also means would not go on the record to confirm) she was involved, but would go on the record to say she was not responsible for the decision.

He then goes on...

According to current and former officials familiar with the memo, it describes interagency discussions of the yellowcake mystery: whether the reports of Iraq's uranium purchases were credible; which agency should pay for any further investigation; and the suggestion that Mr. Wilson could be sent to check out the allegations. Other officials with knowledge of the memo wouldn't say if it mentions Ms. Plame by name as the one who suggested Mr. Wilson, or if her identity is shielded but obvious because of what is known now about the mission. Operations officers like Ms. Plame are sometimes identified only by their first names even in interagency meetings.

I interpret this is as: Cloud was told of the memo by "two people" who had seen it and then tried to get confirmation from sources at the CIA who would not confirm that Plame was even mentioned by name in said memo. This means, the only person to have potentially seen the memo was Novak, and even he doesn't claim he actually saw it, only that "two senior administration officials" told him of its contents.

At some point during the week leading up to October 28th, Gannon interviews Wilson by phone. The contents of that interview are astonishing.

TN: An internal government memo prepared by U.S. intelligence personnel details a meeting in early 2002 where your wife, a member of the agency for clandestine service working on Iraqi weapons issues, suggested that you could be sent to investigate the reports. Do you dispute that?

Gannon also continues to push the partisan politics meme.

TN: You have mentioned that you are not partisan. Doesn't that appear to be the case considering the candidates you've supported?

Wilson: Including Bush. When Ed Gillespie was running around doing his little schpiel, he knew that I contributed to the Bush campaign but decided he would selectively use information on candidates I have supported to bolster a case that simply cannot be made. I contributed to the Bush campaign, the Gore campaign, and I contributed to the campaign of Ed Royce on several occasions. He is a conservative Republican from Orange County, California, and I have contributed to a number of other candidates. I contributed to the Kerry campaign after I made my trip out to Niger -- well after that. Almost a year and a half after that. But I will tell you this: I reserve the right to participate in the political process of my country just like any other citizen.

I was named ambassador to Gabon by George Herbert Walker Bush. One of the highlights of my professional career was serving a charges d'affair in Baghdad in the run up to the gulf war. When I came back to Washington and was introduced to the war cabinet, President Bush introduced me as a true American hero, and I take great pride in that.

TN: Your activities of late have some suggesting that there's certainly a partisan motivation.


TN: The so-called neo-cons, who do you think that they are?

As detailed by Cloud above, the CIA (presumably, because he just says "intelligence" officials) would not confirm that Plame suggested this or even that she was identified by name. Neither would Novak's CIA source. So how is Gannon able to make this claim definitively... he may not have seen the memo, but someone definitely told him about it. It is possible that he just decided to use the info from Novak and Cloud to paint Wilson into a corner, but there is no way he would have known that this was indeed accurate and then his "gotcha" moment (i.e. Wilson lied to me) would have been for naught since no one went on the record (other than Novak's "two senior administration officials") to verify the claim. This is also the first time Gannon drops all qualifiers - i.e according to reports, some say, etc.

Except, once Gannon thought the storm had passed, he reveals that he was leaked the memo, or at least told of its contents... (sometime last year in an article on his website "Joe Wilson Lied and Owes George W. Bush and America (and Me) an Apology". There is no date stamp on the article)

A memo written by an INR (Intelligence and Research) analyst who made notes of the meeting at which Wilson was asked to go to Niger sensed that something fishy was going on. That report made it to the outside world courtesy of some patriotic whistleblower that realized that a bag job was underway.


The classified document that slipped out sometime after the meeting put her name before the public, albeit a small group of inside-the-beltway types, but effectively ended the notion that she was still covert.


I raised all of these questions with Wilson in October 2003 in an interview for Talon News. Since I was aware of the INR report, I confronted him about it.

What is difficult to understand is the reason that the CIA would want to discredit this report. The first clue came when the agents from the FBI came to my home in March 2003 to question me in connection to the leak probe. I was flattered to think that I was important enough to be included among the luminaries like Andrea Mitchell, Tim Russert and Chris Matthews who were also named in a Justice Department subpoena of records from the White House. But most of the questions were about the INR report. They wanted to know where I got it and what I knew about it. Of course, as a journalist there wasn't much I could say without revealing my sources. I'm sure they were not satisfied, but it made me wonder why they were so interested in a document the CIA said was false.

So how is it that a journalist who only set up shop in March 2003 and received WH press credentials on April 3, 2003 and posts regularly on the bulletin boards, was "in the loop" enough to have knowledge of a classified CIA memo by October 2003, that supposedly only "inside-the-beltway types" knew about and no one at the CIA would confirm? There is only one conclusion. He was planted by, and used to help, the administration.

On November 3rd, Part III of the Wilson/ Gannon interview is posted. And now the agenda is to discredit the CIA and push the story that Plame's name was already known so there was no crime in disclosing it.

TN: Nicholas Kristoff wrote in the New York Times recently that the CIA believes that Aldrich Ames may have betrayed your wife to the Russians prior to his arrest in 1994. That would make her not an undercover operative for the CIA in effect.

Wilson: I don't know where Kristoff got that. I think that there is a fair amount of material in the public record to suggest that there is a lot of concern that Mr. Ames betrayed a number of American operatives during his spying.

TN: Including your wife?

Wilson: I don't know about that. I can't tell you anything about that.

TN: But if that is in fact true, then the leak is not necessarily a leak.

Wilson: Let me put it to you this way, I don't believe that the CIA would refer this to the Justice Department frivolously, if they thought it was a frivolous matter or if it was not a leak that might be a violation of the Intelligence Agents Identification Act.

TN: There are some who are skeptical that the CIA is fully on board with our actions in Iraq.

Wilson: Well, the CIA is not a policy organization, the CIA is paid to provide the best intelligence information it can.

TN: So you don't believe the CIA has an agenda that's different from that of the White House?

Wilson: Well in the particular piece of this that I own, the trip to Niger, the CIA produced my report, but there were two other reports produced that said that "Gee this story of uranium going to Iraq is just bogus." Subsequent to that we now know this particular "16 words" were the subject of a number of telephone conversations and a couple of memoranda that somehow were lost in the system or forgotten about. But the two uncontested facts in this matter are the following: The 16 words in the State of the Union did not rise to inclusion in the State of the Union, that's the White House's statement. Had my report or the other two reports been accepted instead of this information that was based as we know on forgeries and even at the time didn't pass the smell test for an Italian weekly tabloid, then the President would not have found himself in this predicament. That is not a CIA betrayal of the political system, that is if anything a political betrayal of the intelligence assessment process.

And the second uncontested fact is that a national security asset's name was leaked to the American public in what may have been a crime but certainly is considered to be of sufficient concern to the CIA that they referred the matter to the Justice Department. Now in neither of those it seems to me do you have nefarious CIA involvement unless you are prepared to make the argument that the CIA would have "outed" one of its own, which seems to me to be highly, highly unlikely.

Gannon is definitely being the good soldier here. Call into question the patriotism and partisan politics of the CIA and help to build the case that Rummy needs a new spy agency (which he formed at some point in 2003) and keep pushing the case that there was no crime in the leak because Plame's name was common knowledge.

Finally, on December 26th, the leak to Gannon is mentioned in the Washington Post.

Sources said the CIA is angry about the circulation of a still-classified document to conservative news outlets suggesting Plame had a role in arranging her husband's trip to Africa for the CIA. The document, written by a State Department official who works for its Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), describes a meeting at the CIA where the Niger trip by Wilson was discussed, said a senior administration official who has seen it.

CIA officials have challenged the accuracy of the INR document, the official said, because the agency officer identified as talking about Plame's alleged role in arranging Wilson's trip could not have attended the meeting.

"It has been circulated around," one official said. CIA and State Department officials have refused to discuss the document.

On Oct. 28, Talon News, a news company tied to a group called GOP USA, posted on the Internet an interview with Wilson in which the Talon News questioner asks: "An internal government memo prepared by U.S. intelligence personnel details a meeting in early 2002 where your wife, a member of the agency for clandestine service working on Iraqi weapons issues, suggested that you could be sent to investigate the reports. Do you dispute that?"

Interestingly, these reporters weren't leaked the memo either... they just relied on a "senior administration official" who had seen it to provide all the background. And once again, the CIA would not discuss the document.

On December 30th two bombshells are dropped. The first is that AG Ashcroft has recused himself from the investigation and the second is that at some point in 2003 Rove (who historically did not agree to interviews with anyone) sat down for a chat with Bobby Eberle of

Early 2004 the investigations continue and grand jury subpoenas are issued (included to Gannon).

On March 9, 2004 Gannon gets into a heated exchange with another poster on regarding the Grand Jury subpoena... and Gannon sticks to his talking points - Plame wasn't covert.

To: Peach

You are kind. What is interesting about this is that I have become ensnared in this matter because I asked questions of my government.

This may a chilling effect on freedom of the press.

All this commotion, but the central question has yet to be answered: At the time that Robert Novak's column was published, was Valerie Plame a "covert operative"?

The CIA has refused to comment on this very important point.

If she was not, then no crime has been committed and all communications between the administration and reporters is just gossip. ---Jeff Gannon


To: Jeff Gannon

That is simply not true, Jeff.

You are ensnared because you made reference to a government document, which appears to have been a forgery. You need to tell the Grand Jury who made you privy to that document. ---JohnGalt

To: Jeff Gannon

What was the document you referred to in the interview with Wilson? ---JohnGalt

To: JohnGalt

I disagree with your characterization of the document itself, but that aside, I maintain that I am under no obligation whatsoever to reveal my sources. That is a fundamental element of maintaining a free press. ---Jeff Gannon

In that exchange Gannon makes a sloppy mistake. How can you disagree with the characterization of a classified document that you hadn't seen? Looks like he was leaked it after all... or he must really trust his source.

In conclusion:

Jeff Gannon was planted by the administration to disseminate their talking points unfettered by any journalism ethics or investigation shortly after the Iraq war, when the failure to find WMDs was becoming apparent. He became incredibly useful in L'Affaire Plame to continue to push the dual stories that a) Plame's name was already common knowledge and therefore `outing' her was not a crime and b) to continue to help discredit the CIA and Wilson.

Based on the evidence, I believe the 2002 CIA memo was leaked to Gannon when Novak became unusable and when the `mainstream' reporters with CIA contacts were not pushing the WH's preferred story line. They needed cover, and they got it.

And as is evidenced by his remarkable access to Scott McClellan and President Bush in the White House press room, to this day, he was rewarded handsomely...

And it continues as business as usual... until today when he became expendable and `resigned' from Talon News.

Comprehensive timeline:

1:26 AM  
Blogger Management said...

Holy crap
by John in DC - 2/8/2005 07:03:51 PM

Update: He just resigned.

Let me say again, holy crap.

The blogosphere has dug up some really really really creepy stuff about that pseudo-reporter with the pseudonym who the White House lets ask all the softball questions about their briefings. His pseudonym is Jeff Gannon, and well, the folks at DailyKos, and Eschaton, have been doing a little digging around on him.

It's a long and sordid tale, but let me give it to you in a nutshell. Mr. Gannon's home page is Well, is owned by a person and company that owns the following Web addresses as well:

And for those of you who are really straight or really clueless, "m4m" is a gay online term for men who are looking to have sex with other men, and "escort" means prostitute. And being a military escort is also against the Uniform Code of Military Justice in at least two different ways, if not more.

Now, I'm not one to judge how folks like to get their jollies (assuming no children are involved and it's consensual), but then again, I don't suck up to the family values agenda like Mr. Gannon does. I've been through Gannon's archives, and it's a horrendous accumulation of religious right suck-up pieces on gay issues. Some are concerned that perhaps it's not fair to hit him with the gay card, if he is gay. Well, take a look at some of the stories from Gannon's Talon News Service: here, here, here Talon is promoting "ex-gays," defending Bush on gay marriage, and Gannon himself writing a story defending Santorum on his man-dog-sex commments about gays. There are lots more, you get the picture.

Oh, and speaking of pictures, they found photos too.

The big issue here is whether the White House has been knowingly opening its doors to a pseudonymous male hustler (or pimp) so he'll pose softball questions to the president. If that's the case here - and in all fairness, we still need to hear from Gannon - it's not just creepy, it's outrageous and an incredible violation of the country's trust, and just as importantly, White House security. Do these people do a background check on anyone?

Just go and read it all for yourself.

3:42 PM  
Blogger Management said...

Big Fun in the Blogosphere
I don't really blog myself, but I'm enjoying watching other people do it. If you haven't been following the Jeff Gannon saga, here's a good primer to help you catch up:

The Jeff Gannon ExperienceThere are two highly satisfying things about this story. One is that it is part of the slow yet (I hope) steady exposure of the Bush administration's calculated and wide-reaching attempts to manipulate the media. The other is that it is a genuine online exclusive. Most of the investigative work was done by an army of volunteer googlewhackers organized through various high-profile anti-establishment blogs, especially at The Daily Kos.

Here's a brief summary of the show so far, for those who didn't want to make it all the way through the truthout piece:

1) During Bush's last press conference, a reporter identifying himself as "Jeff Gannon from Talon News" asked Bush a softball question about how he was planning to deal with Democrats who were "so divorced from reality" that they were willing to suggest that perhaps Bush's domestic agenda might be bad for the country's economy.

2) Surprised by the audacity of the bootlicking and the obscurity of both the reporter and his news organization, the good people of the blogosphere set themselves to find out who "Jeff Gannon" was and what "Talon News" might be.

3) A number of things eventually came to light:

* Talon News is a right-wing partisan site that was established a mere 4 days before "Jeff Gannon" made his first appearance in the WH briefing room. It does not carry advertising, does not pay its 'reporters', has virtually no readership, and does not have paid subscribers. Much of "Jeff Gannon's" "journalism" consists of cut-and-pasted White House press releases.

* Talon News is essentially a subsidiary of GOPUSA, which is pretty much what it sounds like: a right-wing partisan advocacy group.

* "Jeff Gannon" has no journalistic creditials apart from a two-day seminar run by a right-wing organization, and no experience working as a journalist. Yet, he has a WH press pass and gets regularly called on.

* "Jeff Gannon's" real name is J. D. Guckert.

* Along with, J.D. Guckert owns a few other domain names, including:,, and

(Can't figure out why he would need those domain names? Americablog explains it all for you.)

* A picture is unearthed of what looks very much like "Jeff Gannon," sorry, J.D. Guckert, naked except for a watch and a pair of white briefs, posing his chin on his hand meditatively while giving the camera what can only be described as a come-hither look.

* As the revelations mount and the glee intensifies, "Jeff Gannon" suddenly announces his retirement.

* The mainstream media FINALLY picks up the story.

Why is this news? Well, think about it. Here's a guy with no credentials, operating under an alias, who is admitted into the WH press pool and gets called on by both McClellan and Bush--neither of whom, of course, now admits to knowing who the man is or how he got in there--and gets called on while other legitimate reporters are passed over. He is, in other words, a plant. He's being paid by someone--not Talon News, which apparently employs "volunteer reporters"--to pretend to be a journalist in order to try to make McClellan and Bush look better on TV. He's...I mean he's not even a shill. He doesn't rise to that level. He needs a whole new name. The Kos people have found one for him: PropaGannon.

Oh, and, by the way, his outside interests may include running an 'escort service' for gay men who want a little hot military stud action. This while 'writing' 'stories' with titles like "Kerry Could Become First Gay Pres."

McClellan's story is that "Jeff Gannon," who was denied a Congressional press pass because THEIR screeners shrewdly determined that he wasn't a journalist, is admitted to the WH on a 'day pass' (which I guess has been renewed every day for 2 years) and that any online 'advocacy journalist' could do the same. So, according to Scott, I could appoint myself the White House bureau chief for Viper News and apply for a daily pass under the Plaid Adder name, and get into White House press briefings.

And you know, if I lived in the area, I woudl try it just to see what happened.

Watch this story, folks. And do not be satisfied with what you see on TV. There's more information out there at Kos,, and the other blogs than is going to make it onto the evening news. There are still an awful lot of unanswered questions in this story, and I am really looking forward to seeing what comes next.

Stay logged,

The Plaid Adder

3:44 PM  
Blogger Management said...

Lautenberg Requests All Documents From White House Relating to Discredited "Journalist" James D. Guckert, A.K.A. Jeff Gannon

WASHINGTON, DC -- In light of yet another scandal involving the Bush administration's manipulation of the media, United States Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) today requested from White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan all the documents relating to the press credentials of James. D. Guckert, a.k.a. "Jeff Gannon"; the "journalist" now famous for being the White House correspondent for his softball questioning of President Bush and various Administration spokespeople.

"I am writing to request that you immediately release documents to my office relating to the White House press credentials of James D. Guckert, a.k.a. "Jeff Gannon." Specifically, I am seeking documentation related to the question of which name Mr. Guckert/Gannon used when applying for credentials, and which name was on the official White House press credentials he received," wrote Lautenberg.

"As you may know, Mr. Guckert/Gannon was denied a Congressional press pass because he could not show that he wrote for a valid news organization. Given the fact that he was denied Congressional credentials, I seek your explanation of how Mr. Guckert/Gannon passed muster for White House press credentials," Lautenberg wrote.

Senator Lautenberg has been the Senate leader in exposing the Bush administration's propaganda efforts.

February 10, 2005

Scott McClellan Press Secretary The White House Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. McClellan,

I am writing to request that you immediately release documents to my office relating to the White House press credentials of James D. Guckert, a.k.a. "Jeff Gannon." Specifically, I am seeking documentation related to the question of which name Mr. Guckert/Gannon used when applying for credentials, and which name was on the official White House press credentials he received. Additionally, I am seeking documents indicating whether Mr. Guckert/Gannon received a "hard pass" or daily passes from your office. Despite your assertions to the contrary, at least one White House reporter has revealed that Mr. Guckert/Gannon appeared to have "hard pass" credentials.

As you may know, Mr. Guckert/Gannon was denied a Congressional press pass because he could not show that he wrote for a valid news organization. Given the fact that he was denied Congressional credentials, I seek your explanation of how Mr. Guckert/Gannon passed muster for White House press credentials.

I have led the effort in the Senate to investigate a number of instances of troubling propaganda efforts by the Administration. The Government Accountability Office has agreed to my requests to investigate various attempts at media manipulation: fake television news stories touting both the new Medicare law and the "No Child Left Behind" education program; a study rating individual journalists on their "favorability" to Republican education policies; and the payment to journalist Armstrong Williams.

Since the Armstrong Williams controversy became public, Administration payments to two other journalists, Maggie Gallagher and Michael McManus, have come to light. Given the backdrop of these scandals, coupled with Mr. Guckert/Gannon's role in recent White House press briefings and press conferences, it is understandable that the circumstances of Mr. Guckert/Gannon's credentialing have raised suspicion.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Sincerely, Frank R. Lautenberg

3:53 PM  

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