Belmont Club

Hear No Evil, See No Evil

Definition of firewall. (f+r´wâl) (n.) A system designed to prevent unauthorized access to or from a private network. Firewalls can be implemented in both hardware and software, or a combination of both. Firewalls are frequently used to prevent unauthorized Internet users from accessing private networks connected to the Internet, especially intranets. All messages entering or leaving the intranet pass through the firewall, which examines each message and blocks those that do not meet the specified security criteria.

According to David Axelrod, he was building a firewall between Eric Holder’s Justice Department and himself. The Daily Caller reports:

On CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, senior Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod told host Candy Crowley that he rarely interacted with Attorney General Eric Holder in the White House and, contradicting recent testimony from Holder himself, claimed he never offered Holder political advice.

“From time to time at the White House, I would see Holder at meetings and so on, but I rarely spoke to him, and I didn’t ever speak to him on issues of policy in the Justice Department,” Axelrod said. “I didn’t speak to him about personnel issues, other than at the beginning of the administration [when] I recommended a communications person to him.”

Axelrod said that he was particularly concerned about protecting the Department of Justice from any undue White House influence or political pressure.

“I was very sensitive to the fact, Candy, that in the last administration the political arm of the White House was very active in the Justice Department, to the extent that they were picking U.S. attorneys and guiding policy there in ways that were inappropriate,” he continued. “I was very scrupulous about my interactions with the attorney general, even though he’s a friend.” …

However, on Thursday Holder told a House committee the exact opposite during testimony concerning the failed gunrunning operation Fast and Furious.

“We talked about not hiring decisions, but ways we might improve the ability of the Justice Department to respond to political attacks coming my way,” Holder said.

The need for firewalls was explained by the Chicago Sun-Times, which quoted a book depicting a White House staff paranoid about being infiltrated by Eric Holder and his allies. In that account, Rahm Emmanuel and Axelrod both suspected Holder of sneaking around behind their backs and employing Valerie Jarrett as a secret agent for his purposes.

WASHINGTON–A new book about the Obama administration adds more to the story about tensions between Attorney General Eric Holder, David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel when he was White House chief of staff.

Valerie Jarrett once broke up a near-fight between Axelrod and Holder, the book reveals.

The book is “Kill or Capture: The War on Terror and the Soul of the Obama Presidency” by Daniel Klaidman, a former Newsweek managing editor now with Newsweek/DailyBeast.

But apparently the infiltration was going on both ways.

“After word spread from Holder aides that they believed the White House was attempting to place a political operative named Chris Sautter within the Justice Department, Axelrod confronted the attorney general. Axelrod had been careful to “not to come close to that line,” knowing such a move could “detonate a full-blown scandal.” “‘I’m not Karl Rove,’ ” Axelrod said to Holder, a reference to the 2006 scandal over the firings of U.S. Attorneys that Democrats called politically motivated.” …

“…Holder’s legendary tension with former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel is also described. Emanuel thought Jarrett was Holder’s spy within the White House, Klaidman writes. In one meeting in which Emanuel criticized Holder, Emanuel ‘noticed Jarrett pick up her BlackBerry and begin typing. Later, when Holder was at the White House on other business, he went to see Emanuel in his office.'”

In that account they were all trying to protect their individual access to power and assert their authority. So far, so normal.

But interestingly the name “Chris Sautter” appears as a person involved in making a documentary about Mexican border troubles, including perhaps Gunwalker. Could this be the same “Chris Sautter” that provoked the clash between Axelrod and Holder? Could it be the same Chris Sautter who runs Sautter Communications — “a full-service political strategy and media firm with offices in Washington, D.C. and Chicago”? The same person who’s bio says he:

played a prominent role in the Florida Presidential Recount, and his work on behalf of Al Gore was profiled in the New Republic and singled out by syndicated columnist Robert Novak. Sautter’s recount manual has been prominently mentioned in various books published about the Florida Recount … has advised and produced media for dozens of Democratic candidates from coast-to-coast … erved as political director in the 1992 presidential campaign of Senator Bob Kerrey and on the national staff of Paul Simon’s 1988 presidential campaign. He served as former Congressman Frank McCloskey’s (D-IN) top political aide and his campaign manager in 1986 when McCloskey’s race was the number one congressional race in the country. He formerly served as special counsel to the Democratic National Committee on campaign finance reform issues and to Democratic members of the House Oversight Committee on contested elections.

Maybe. That is not established for now.  But supposing that he were, or that there were other links between the White House and the Justice Department, beside the official, then the possibility emerges that the firewalls now being erected by Axelrod are for a more definite purpose; to deny knowledge or involvement in something specific.  Then the interesting question is who is being firewalled from whom?

  • Theory 1. Axelrod is firewalling the Justice Department from himself because he doesn’t want to be “another Karl Rove”.
  • Theory 2. Axelrod is firewalling the White House from the Justice Department, around which the flames of the Fast and Furious scandal are lapping high.
  • Theory 3. The Administration is riddled with intrigue and nobody quite knows who has been spying on whom, not even the President.  Now that everything is falling apart — like a “house of cards” according to Peggy Noonan — all the factions are all trying to hang the rap on one another because they don’t know what is coming out of the woodwork.

One gets the distinct impression that Holder and Axelrod are trying to blame each other for something — in advance. The question is: what is that something?

The struggle between the factions can only be resolved by the President. He’ll either have to come down one side or let it drag on in public. In either case, the firewall is down and somebody is going to get licked by the flames.  Maybe even the president, because both Holder and Axelrod are inside the inner circle. They know the deepest secrets of Obama the man and Obama the candidate.  They must either escape the flames together or drag each other in to some extent. It will be fascinating to watch.

Especially now that Axelrod has pointed a finger away from himself in the matter of national security leaks that are now being investigated by Holder’s Justice Department.

Obama campaign senior adviser David Axelrod said he is confident that newly launched investigations will show that recent leaks on classified national security information did not come from the White House.

“I think the authors of all of this work have said that the White House was not the source of this information,” Axelrod told me this morning on “This Week.” “I can’t say that there weren’t leaks. There were obvious leaks, but they weren’t from the White House.”

Imagine that. They must have been from someone else then. Just now Breitbart is quoting an Israeli newspaper which claims that the leaks are lies. In particular the reports dispute that the President waged cyberwar against Iran.

Israeli officials who were placed at risk by the Obama administration’s leaks about the Stuxnet virus are disputing American claims that the cyber-weapon was jointly developed by the U.S. and Israel. Rather, they say, Israeli intelligence first started developing cyberspace warfare against Iran, only convincing the U.S.–with some difficulty–to join in. The Israelis allege that President Barack Obama claimed credit for Stuxnet to boost his re-election campaign.

It's Scooter Libby's Fault


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