They've got muck; we've got rakes. TPM Muckraker

Family members and close "family friends" of Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA), a powerful member of the Armed Services Committee, share an uncanny ability to get hired by large companies fishing for U.S. defense contracts, the new investigative blog at Harper's magazine reports. His daughters Kim and Karen, and "family friend" Cecelia Grimes, have all landed jobs or contracts with Boeing, two divisions of Italian industrial firm Finmeccanica, as well as other firms. Company reps assured Harper's that their hires' connection to the congressman was sheer coincidence.

Lawmaker to Constituent: "I Think You're An. . . "

The truth hurts. Missourian Bill Jones opened a letter from his congresswoman, Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO), in which the lawmaker wrote, "I think you're an" followed by "a profane, seven-letter insult," the AP reports, which our New York Times crossword dictionary tells us is "asshole."

Emerson says she can't figure out how it got in there or how it got mailed, although she did sign the letter personally and hand-write at the bottom, "P.S. - please forgive the delay in responding." Something tells me there's a 22-year-old constituent services assistant who will never work in Washington again. (AP)

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To the Burberry ramparts!

The man Bush tapped to fill Karl Rove's spot as his policy wizard is none other than Joel Kaplan, who took part in the infamous "Brooks Brothers riot" of 2000. That's when a bunch of Washington GOP operatives, posing as outraged Floridians, waved fists, chanted "Stop the fraud!" and pounded windows in an effort to intimidate officials engaged in the Florida recount effort.

In George Bush's Washington, there's no shame in staging a fake protest to undermine a democratic election, apparently: last year, the Washington Post's Al Kamen noted that "the "rioters" proudly note their participation on resumes and in interviews." Kaplan was even the one to cheekily dub the fracas the "Brooks Brothers Riot."

Over at ThinkProgress, John Podesta notes Rove's changing role and asks an intriguing question: Did Bush's Brain have his security clearance pulled?

This morning's newspapers are ablaze with the outrageous news that the FBI was trying to get its hands on over 200 boxes of files once belonging to legendary investigative journalist Jack Anderson.

What the papers didn't report was the truly ugly extent to which the bureau has gone to achieve their goal -- such as manipulating Anderson's elderly widow to sign a document she apparently didn't understand.

I spoke with Jack Anderson's son Kevin yesterday. He's an attorney, and acts as the family's representative with the FBI. He told me that the lead agent in this case, Leslie Martell, went behind his and his siblings' backs to get his elderly mother, Olivia, to sign a form that would allow FBI agents to review and remove documents from her husband's files.

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An appeals court in Texas has ruled that the criminal conspiracy charge against Tom DeLay should stay out. That means he only faces the money laundering charge, a first degree felony, and the more serious of the two. The appeals court's decision clears the way for a trial date being set. The main event shouldn't be far off -- I'd expect it sometime in late summer.

For those who want reminding of what DeLay's in trouble for, here's the indictment.

Scott McClellan skips out, WaPo reporting.

Update: D.C. Examiner reports WH Chief of Staff Josh Bolten has offered the job to FOX News Radio's Tony Snow. Fox News confirms Snow was approached. (We're sure he'll turn it down to preserve his objectivity as a journalist.) Other possibles include former Pentagon spinner Victoria Clark, and former CPA spokesman Dan Senor. (h/t to

Bloggers, rejoice! You have been ridiculed by the media, ignored by ombudsmen and -women, shunned and scorned, accused of being nothing more than a seething mob-like mass of pure rage and opinion.

But according to the CIA, you may help prevent the next terror attack. As a top Langley official told the Washington Times:

"A lot of blogs now have become very big on the Internet, and we're getting a lot of rich information on blogs that are telling us a lot about social perspectives and everything from what the general feeling is to ... people putting information on there that doesn't exist anywhere else."

Yes, that's right: the CIA now has intelligence-gatherers who do nothing more than sit around and read blogs all day. (Down side: creeping police state. Up side: 'You mean, I could get paid for this?!')

Curiously, while most stories of this type include assurances that the CIA would never, ever use domestic sources, this one doesn't. So who knows, maybe Bush is getting summaries of Atrios' latest included in his daily brief. OTOH (let's hope the bright boys at CIA can crack that code), maybe the prez just wants to get the latest scoop on Tom Cruise's placenta eating.

More News From Iraq's Free-Fraud Zone

A U.S. contractor has pleaded guilty to spreading $2 million in bribes to win contracts with the U.S.-run Coalition Provisional Authority, which ruled Iraq in the wake of the U.S. invasion of that country.

Philip Bloom gave CPA contracting officers and other contractors "first-class plane tickets, real estate lots, weapons, new SUVs, cigars, Breitling watches, jewelry, alcohol, sexual favors from prostitutes kept at Bloom's Baghdad villa and cash bribes," court documents say. When he was given contracts, he failed to do the work, or did a poor job, officials say.

Elsewhere, a Pentagon contracting official used her post for personal gain, directing lucrative security contracts to a company she helped set up and run. (LA Times, LA Times)

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