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That's the headline you could have seen but didn't.  

If you've followed the story of the American woman arrested on charges related to spying and Iraq, you probably know that the accused, Susan Lindauer, has at various times worked for four Capitol Hill Democrats--Congressman Peter DeFazio (OR), then-Congressman and now Senator Ron Wyden (OR), former Senator Carol Mosley-Braun (IL), and most recently, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (CA).  The "Weakly" Standard--to which we'll return--was quick to post this information as what they called Lindauer's "work record," although they conveniently failed to mention that Lindauer's time on these jobs accounts for only 3 of the last 11 years.   But there's a lot more than the rest of her work record (which includes newspaper writing in the 1980's) that's been missing from the stories of Lindauer's arrest, including her direct connection to the Bush White House.  

The initial reports about Lindauer didn't seem to add up to much.  Lindauer wasn't charged with spying, but with "conspiring to act as a spy for the Iraqi Intelligence Service and with engaging in prohibited financial transactions involving the Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein."  She had made several visits to Iraq's mission to the U.N. in New York (probably the most heavily surveilled office in America), and she took $10,000 from the Iraqi Intelligence Service, some of it to cover her expenses when visiting Baghdad in 2002. She's also reported to have met with an undercover FBI agent who she thought was a Libyan agent.

Lindauer almost certainly had nothing of value to offer the Iraqis or Libyans.  Some Congressional aides have access to sensitive or classified information.  (George Tenet went to CIA after serving as Democratic staff director of the Select Committee on Intelligence.)  But Lindauer held relatively low-paying jobs in members' offices, so it's doubtful she ever touched a classified document.  

It's highly unlikely Lindauer could have compromised U.S. security, and since the indictment doesn't discuss her motives, it's not even clear that that was her intent.  So why did the government pursue the case?  Probably because Lindauer had made her actions known to one of George W. Bush's closest aides, thereby obligating that official to notify law enforcement officials that she was conspiring to commit espionage.  

According to the indictment, "Lindauer delivered a letter `to the home of a United States government official' on Jan. 8, 2003, in which she described her access to members of dictator Saddam Hussein's regime `in an unsuccessful attempt to influence United States policy.' "  That official, who wasn't identified in earlier reports, is Lindauer's second cousin--White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card.  

As noted by diarist Gunther, Lindauer got attention some years back by claiming that a former CIA operative told her the Lockerbie bombing wasn't committed by terrorists supported by Libya.  Setting aside the possible validity of that claim, one has to wonder why anyone wanting to get that story out would have floated it to Lindauer and not to a higher level staffer or member of the press.  But when you combine the Lockerbie story  with some other details surfacing in the press reports--the sheer ineptness of her spycraft, her claims of having survived multiple assassination attempts, her grandiose statements to the press ("I did more to stop terrorism in this country than anybody else. I have done good things for this country. I worked to get weapons inspectors back to Iraq when everyone else said it was impossible"), and her neighbor's comment that "she lives in a fantasy world"--it starts to look like Lindauer might pose a greater threat to her own security than to our national security.  

But there is one "conspiracy" Lindauer didn't mention that is worth considering: Did the White House get out in front of this story and link Lindauer to Democrats before anyone could discover her links to Republicans?  She wasn't set up to be a patsy--this isn't the Parallax View.  By communicating with Card, Lindauer essentially informed on herself.  However, it's worth noting that for hours the main focus was on her connections to Congressional Democrats, and only this evening did her relation to Card become public.  And her relation to Card isn't her only family connection to a prominent Republican: in 1998 her father was the Republican nominee for Governor of Alaska  

Lindauer's father, John Lindauer, owned newspapers in Alaska and was the Republican nominee for governor there in 1998. He was defeated and later pleaded no contest to two charges stemming from campaign finance problems related to the campaign. He received a one-year suspended sentence, two years of probation and a $15,000 fine.

When somebody with such direct and presumably easily identified Republican ties is described almost exclusively as a former Democratic aide, one has to wonder if the White House controlled the timing of the arrest.  Even if they were simply aware that it was impending, they could have been prepared to quickly tip their media allies (like the Weekly Standard) about her Democratic connections.  This way, the narrative could shape up as  "Democrat Spied For Iraq" before any other plausible narratives could take hold.  A different but equally plausible narrative would have been "Woman With Republican, White House Ties Spied For Iraq."  A third, and probably more accurate and nuanced narrative would have been "Unstable Woman Arrested For Trying To Spy For Iraq; Accused Has Ties to Politicians."  Why was the first narrative the one that first took hold?

To quote one of the best comments made about life during George W. Bush's presidency, I deeply resent the way this administration makes me feel like a nutbar conspiracy theorist.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Thu Mar 11, 2004 at 10:27 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I'm in complete shock (none)
    Absolutely beautiful post.
    •  Now let's see... (none)
      If this goes anywhere. After the absolutely disgraceful job that the corporate media did reporting the Katrina Leung scandal (which had everything: sex, spying, conspiracy, fundraising improprieties -- unfortunately, all of the participants were Republicans, so the story disappeared into the investigative memory hole), I'd be amazed if this got any play at all.

      I'll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it, And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it

      by Hard Left on Thu Mar 11, 2004 at 11:10:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Whoops... (none)
        Better Leung story here. It's BBC News, so they actually mention the fact that she was a Republican fundraiser.

        I'll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it, And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it

        by Hard Left on Thu Mar 11, 2004 at 11:13:24 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not Really Like Leung (none)
          The Leung case is one of clear malfeasance that reflects badly on Republicans.  This case is probably just a paranoid woman who made her actions known to a White House official, who then did the right thing in reporting her to the proper authorities.  

          It's more like the Roger Clinton thing.  I doubt Card wanted to report her, and I bet he knows that she didn't compromise national security.  But unlike the Clinton analogy, where it was a sad thing for a family, in this case that sad thing ended up making that family's political opponents look bad.  It'd be like if Bill Clinton did the right thing in having the state police arrest his brother, and then somehow it ended up making the Republicans look bad.

          You're right that the Leung case should have gotten lots of attention.  In Lindauer's case, it shouldn't have gotten much attention, at least not in terms of her connections to one party while omiting her family connections to the other.

    •  AIM users get pro Dem headline (none)
      users of AOL Instant messenger who have their PCs set to open it up on startup now get the following popup from AOL:
      "Alleged Iraqi spy linked to White House"

      sweet.

  •  "We distort. You comply" in action (none)
    It all depends on where you put the ellipses. This is the sterling "record" of masterful "achievements" the preznit wants us to base our voting decisions on? If he had a brain cell left alive in his skull, he'd come up with a different campaign theme, pronto. He's going nowhere, fast, with this one.

    Michael - Bush/Cheney '04: Please change horsemen: We're in mid-Apocalypse!

    by musing85 on Thu Mar 11, 2004 at 10:36:34 PM PST

  •  when you control the media (none)
    you control the news.

    Anyone hear about this one?

    Freddie Mac Ousts Lobbyist
    Amid Election-Law Probe

    By JAMES R. HAGERTY
    Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

    Freddie Mac ousted its chief lobbyist amid an investigation into allegations that he broke federal election laws in raising money for Republican members of Congress.

    The lobbyist, R. Mitchell Delk, who was a senior vice president at Freddie, has denied those charges. But Freddie is withholding a decision on his severance pay pending results of an investigation by the Federal Election Commission. At stake for Mr. Delk, who was one of the company's highest-paid executives, is more than $6 million in deferred compensation, mostly in the form of restricted stock.

    The departure of Mr. Delk, 51 years old, comes at an awkward time, with Congress considering legislation that would tighten regulation of the mortgage-finance company and its larger rival, Fannie Mae. Both government-chartered companies funnel money into the home-mortgage market.

    Mr. Delk's exit comes less than a year after the company awarded him a special bonus of $200,000 to persuade him to stay at Freddie, then being rocked by an accounting scandal. Mr. Delk was long viewed as a crucial part of the government-sponsored company's efforts to remain on good terms with Congress. But a person who was briefed on the situation said Freddie's new chairman and chief executive officer, Richard F. Syron, decided Mr. Delk should leave, after reviewing a report looking into Mr. Delk's fund-raising activities.

    When he said crooks, maybe Kerry meant this guy and our friends at Halliburton. When he said liars, well... the list is long.

    "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

    by Greg Dworkin on Thu Mar 11, 2004 at 10:39:04 PM PST

  •  Nut Bar (none)
    I had my own nutbar moment this morning.

    I spent some free time today wondering why exactly it is that, when I try to think about the motivations behind what goes on in the Bush White House, I always end up with something outlandish and embarrassing.

    The answer that I came up with was, it's because media reporting on this White House is so divorced from reality that it has made reality sound strange.

  •  here's yet another AP story (none)
    the local recipient picks the headline:

    Accused spy is cousin of Bush staffer

    By MATTHEW DALY
    ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER

    WASHINGTON -- The woman charged with working for the Iraqi spy agency is a distant cousin of President Bush's chief of staff, Andrew Card, and has held a variety of jobs in journalism and on Capitol Hill.

    Susan Lindauer, 41, worked in the press offices of four Democratic members of Congress. She also worked for Fortune magazine, U.S. News & World Report, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Fox News.

    Her father, John Lindauer, was the Republican nominee for governor in Alaska in 1998. His campaign unraveled because of charges of campaign finance violations to which he pleaded no contest.

    "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

    by Greg Dworkin on Thu Mar 11, 2004 at 10:44:45 PM PST

    •  About Ten Hours Later (none)
      This story hit the wires this morning, and it's only been in the last three or four hours that anything about her Repub ties made it into the stories.  And almost all the headlines focused on her being a former Congressional aide, or former Democratic aide.  For hours millions of people saw those headlines, and that's what's going to stick in a lot of people's minds.

      Look, I don't feel like Card needed to be saddled with being connected to this; it seems sad more than threatening.  But there's something fishy and ultimately more likely to be harmful to Dems when her Dem connections are the only thing that most people remember.

      •  I appreciate that (none)
        Seems like it's evened out over the last shift.

        Maybe it's all those Nedra letters. Maybe they know we're on to them ;-)

        "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

        by Greg Dworkin on Thu Mar 11, 2004 at 11:25:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Former Fox News Employee Accused of Spying (none)
      ...can't wait for that headline to come out.

      Rubus Eradicandus Est.

      by Randomfactor on Fri Mar 12, 2004 at 01:16:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Another Republican Screws Up. (none)
    No wonder it is being reported wrong.  It would get lost in the avalanche.
  •  TIMING THE NEWS CYCLE (none)
    Also, note that this was released a day early, not on Friday as usual; probably hoping to damage us Democrats.

    Now that its out that she's got links Inside the White House, maybe the SCLM will have something to report on Friday instead of waiting up late for Rove's Friday night bombs.

    Then, maybe not...

  •  Party affiliation is hereditary? (none)
    Just because Susan Lindauer's father and second cousin are Republicans, she can't be a Democrat?

    FWIW, John Lindauer flirted with the Alaska Independence Party before dropping an earlier gubernatorial bid. Just sayin', if one person can belong to more than one party, surely there's enough room in a family for variety.

    In fact, while John Lindauer's son participated in his father's 1998 campaign, Susan was never heard from. Black sheep in the family? I don't know.

    •  Exactly. (none)
      She's related to two Republicans. She's worked for four Democrats. Certainly the Republicans will play up her Dem ties (the news I've seen keeps referring to her as an "antiwar activist"-- way to sour the bushel with one apple), but, based on what you've posted, I can only conclude that her Dem ties are much stronger than her Republican ones. She's Andrew Card's second cousin and her Dad's a Republican... that does not equal working for four Republican congresspeople.
      •  Except... (none)
        Sifting through the reportage yesterday with the obligatory ton of salt, it was still pretty clear that her sympathies lie with the anti-war, and therefore liberal Democratic crowd.  Armchair-psychologically speaking, her motivations could very well be in reaction to her relative connections.  Whatever.

        What's unconscionable is that on SCL NPR, her neighborhood was impugned:  "Takoma Park - populated with anti-war activists..."  What the hell?!  The information and the timing of the information bear the unmistakable signs of court stenography and MUST be redressed!

  •  Hmm... (none)
    That Parallax View is a good flick.

    Great post, too, BTW.  :)

  •  "Republican family"? (none)
    I hope that having two Republican relatives does not mean that a person is herself/himself a Republican.

    Because, if that's the case, most of us are doomed...

  •  Histrionic? Bored? Traitorious? Patty Hearst Lite? (none)
    Honestly, scratching my head over this one.

    But if I had to think like a spook I would have done exactly what got done because, first, I'd like to know exactly what was going on, and should I buy immediately the oh-she's-low-level-nothing-to-worry-about without checking the label?

    What does she have?  Access.

    To intelligence?  No.  To people? Yes, or maybe.

    She fancies herself (maybe) a double agent.  I'm foreign intelligence and I want to get physical access to someone high-level for nefarious purposes.  Send in some guy that looks like Omar Sharif to woo and manipulate her.  See where she goes.

    Too many damn spy novels?  Maybe.  Maybe not.

    "And that puts you inside the White House."

    by blown cue on Fri Mar 12, 2004 at 12:10:37 AM PST

  •  Will work out neutral or net plus for Dems. (none)
    I think that this could turn into a net plus for Dems.  If it fades out quickly, it will be forgotten.  But if it develops into a larger story, then it can't but help to drag into it the Republican angle.  When it is revealed that she is largely Republican in background, they get exposed, and it fades out again.  

    What would be better is if Dems start huffing and puffing about what the Bushies are going to do about plugging leaks among their staffers.  I mean, really!  Feith leaks CIA data, Cheney can't keep his mouth shut, Haliburton overcharges then won't pay subcontractors to feed the troops, and now it turns out that prominently placed nepotistic Republican operatives are making deals with the enemy!  What next?  Selling nuclear secrets to the Pakistanis?  Fomenting coups in equatorial Africa?

    These guys are the most crooked, you know, lying group I have ever seen. It's scary

  •  They Spin Her Both Ways! (none)
    This story will get plenty of play, for a simple reason: You can spin it both ways.  She worked mainly for Democrats, but her relatives are prominent Republicans.  Gosh, all we need is for all her friends to be Libertarians, and for her hairdresser to be a card-carrying Green Party activist, and we'd have the Spinnable Story of the Millennium.

    Honestly, what do you expect?  The right-wing news sources will tell you that a 'Democratic Congressional staffer' did it, and the left-leaning ones will pin the blame on a 'Member of a well-connected Republican family'.  That's not the only way they're being biased.  The Seattle Post-Intelligencer understandably downplays the part of her work history involving that very paper, and you can expect the comments from her other former employers to be likewise muted.

    As long as we have plenty of alternative sources (and between Kos and Instapundit, I'd say I have enough links to get both sides of every major story), the fuss shouldn't be about bias itself, but about how careful we are at spotting it and identifying it.  News without bias is stultifyingly boring, and the best reporting his history has been done by people who passionately believed in the issues about which they wrote.  The lesson of all this should be that journalists inspired by their biases and comprehended by their readers are far better than journalists afraid to give voice to their beliefs, and consequently ignored by their audiences.

    Interested? Intruiged? Infuriated? Check out my blog for more commentary!

    by ByrnesEyeViewBlog on Fri Mar 12, 2004 at 01:29:44 AM PST

  •  Lobbying? (none)
    Gosh, I thought all forms of lobbying were OK with this White House?  I guess they do have some "standards" after all.
  •  This is the headline in the Denver Post (none)
    "Bush official's kin held in spying

    Woman charged as agent of Iraq"

  •  Arresting a disturbed woman is counterterrorism? (none)
    The same day that terrorists -- maybe ETA, maybe al-Qaida -- set off ten bombs on trains in Madrid, a horrendous massacre Spain's newspapers are calling "Our 9/11," our vaunted counter-terrorism agents are wasting their time on a woman who clearly wears a tinfoil hat? And we're supposed to feel safer?
    •  They Were Forced To (none)
      I think they probably had to arrest her.  Once she went to Card with proof of her interaction with Iraqi Intellegence agents, he had to pursue it.  If it somehow got out that she notified him that she was breaking espionage laws and nothing happened, the White House would be villified for protecting somebody who tried to compromise our national security.

      Obviously the issue that I'm suspicious about is the timing and the fact that all the initial reports spun things in our direction and not toward the Republicans, when in fact there's no real substantive political angle to the arrest of a woman who, as you put it, "wears a tinfoil hat."

  •  Nutcase, spin goes both ways (none)
    Boston Globe print, NY Times and WaPo email briefs all mention the Card connection before her employment history. The lady seems to have a highly exaggerated sense of her own importance, not an uncommon failing.

    It's a one news cycle story, the conclusion of which will be that the lady's story is a sad one.

    I see no partisan advantage either way, though partisans will seek advantage. That's what they do.

     

  •  Connections??? (none)
    Does anyone know if the lady has authentic connections with any aspect of the Peace Movements? That's what seems missing from this story if indeed she was working against the invasion of Iraq, and trying to stir up support for inspections and inspectors.  The reason I ask is I believe various intelligence agencies were involved in both infiltrating the organizations doing the marching last year -- and also the groups sponsoring the "human shield" efforts.  Some infiltrations were probably just intelligence gathering efforts -- others may have been efforts to get unwitting people to disgrace the movement one way or another -- an old tactic that was much used in the late 60's and early 70's resulting in agent provacatuer problems galore.  Elements of this story just seem all too familiar.  
    •  Friends (none)
      She herself claimed to be involved with the peace movement, and when I did a quick search last night her named popped up on this list of petition signers of a group that appears to be affiliated with that well-known threat to freedom, the American Friends Service Committee.  

      She may have been involved with other groups as well.  

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