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Warning: the American people are a threat to the American people. At least, according to the vice president.

As you may recall, the Washington Post has been suing the Bush administration for access to vice president Cheney's visitor logs. A couple weeks ago, a judge ordered the Secret Service (which keeps the logs) to release them -- or explain why, under current law, certain portions could be withheld.

But the New York Sun's Josh Gerstein tells us this morning that the vice president ain't gonna show his dance card that easily. His legal team -- better known as the Justice Department -- has asked to block the judge's decision, and they cite a pretty unusual argument for doing so. It's called "mosaic theory."

Mosaic theory has been around for a while, and it's enjoyed a post-9/11 renaissance. It's an increasingly common government argument for withholding sensitive national security-related information, because of "the potential for an adversary to deduce from independently innocuous facts a strategic vulnerability, exploitable for malevolent ends," as a 2005 article in the Yale Law Review described it.

In other words, even if one piece of information appears harmless, if you put it together with other pieces of harmless information, the sum becomes dangerous in enemy hands.

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As Josh mentioned yesterday on TPM, Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA) -- under federal investigation for the ties between him and his daughter's lobby shop -- has been running an ad in his district asking his constituents for the "benefit of the doubt." You know, just like you would "a friend."

The ad ends with: "He's been there for us. Now it's our turn to be there for him."

Showing remarkable restraint, in the ad Weldon refrains from repeating his allegation that the probe is the result of a left-wing conspiracy, although the spot notes that Weldon's "made a few enemies."


Update: Another recent ad from Weldon has his wife telling voters, "Curt deserves the benefit of the doubt."

The St. Petersburg Times reports:

Federal investigators have interviewed at least two more former chiefs of staff to U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris as part of a federal inquiry into her relationship with a convicted defense contractor.

Dan Berger and Ben McKay, who both worked for Harris in her first term and are now lobbyists in Washington, confirmed the interviews this week and said it was their understanding all congressional staff would likely be questioned. The two spoke separately to three investigators from the FBI and the Defense Department in Washington several weeks ago.

Two more former staffers interviewed, plus four that were earlier reported -- that makes at least six former Harris staffers questioned by the FBI.

Scandals Alone Could Cost Republicans Their House Majority "Indictments, investigations and allegations of wrongdoing have helped put at least 15 Republican House seats in jeopardy, enough to swing control to the Democrats on Tuesday even before the larger issues of war, economic unease and President Bush are invoked.

"With just five days left before Election Day, allegations are springing up like brushfires. Four GOP House seats have been tarred by lobbyist Jack Abramoff's influence-peddling scandal. Five have been adversely affected by then-Rep. Mark Foley's unseemly contacts with teenage male House pages. The remaining half a dozen or so could turn on controversies including offshore tax dodging, sexual misconduct and shady land deals.

"Not since the House bank check-kiting scandal of the early 1990s have so many seats been affected by scandals, and not since the Abscam bribery cases of the 1970s have the charges been so serious. But this year's combination of breadth and severity may be unprecedented, suggested Julian E. Zelizer, a congressional historian at Boston University." (WaPo)

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Mark Foley may have resigned from Congress, but he's still a Republican. And he's not going to exit rehab right on the eve of the election. Foley's extending his 30-day stay (which started October 1st), his lawyer announced today.

Ah, a whole new scandal involving Rep. Jim Gibbons (R-NV).

Yes, he's accused of sexual assault. And yes, he had an illegal domestic worker he hid in his basement. But now, we learn that Gibbons granted exceptional favors to a campaign backer and "friend" from whom he received gifts and campaign donations, according to a lengthy and circuitous investigative piece in the Wall Street Journal.

Step 1: From Nevada software entrepreneur Warren Trepp, Gibbons received generous gifts, including a week-long family cruise valued at $10,000 (which he failed to report) and $100,000 in campaign contributions. Trepp also gave Gibbons gambling chips worth money, as well as plain ol' cash, according to Trepp's old business partner.

Step 2: Gibbons gave Trepp at least one multi-million dollar earmark, and a "plus-up" -- adding more money onto an existing contract than was originally agreed to. He also set up numerous meetings between Trepp and defense officials, worked to get Trepp paid when the government checks weren't coming on time, and personally flacked for Trepp's products.

(There's no connection, the two men say, and of course Gibbons and Trepp deny any wrongdoing. Gibbons' wife even says she paid back $1,654 of the cruise's cost to Trepp's wife. It's not clear why she paid that amount, or why she paid Trepp's wife.)

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The front-running GOP candidate for Tom DeLay's old House seat is accusing Democrats of dirty tricks -- but a look at a similar tactic in Pennsylvania, apparently by her own party, shows how a dirty trick is really done.

The candidate, Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, is upset about a mailer the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee recently spent $50,000 to send to voters in her district, TX-22 -- but not because the mailer attacks her. The DCCC targets another Don Richardson, another GOP candidate who's trailing badly in polls. In its mailer, the DCCC attacks him for being "too conservative" for the district.

The DCCC won't discuss its strategy here, but it's pretty transparent: They're hoping to boost Richardson's name recognition and help him peel votes away from Sekula-Gibbs, who is the GOP-endorsed nominee. (DeLay's botched late resignation, you might remember, has left Republicans without a candidate on the ballot -- so Sekula-Gibbs, the GOP's endorsed write-in nominee, has been forced to compete with Richardson and Libertarian Bob Smithers for every conservative voter she can get.) Here's the mailer (click to enlarge):

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The sexual-assault scandal surrounding the GOP's Nevada gubernatorial candidate is gaining a level of complexity seen only in tawdry television drama series and particularly sinister small-town conspiracies.

A judge yesterday ordered mysteriously disappearing and reappearing surveillance tapes released, that could prove who's lying about the late-night encounter between Rep. Jim Gibbons (R-NV) and his accuser, Chrissy Mazzeo.

Big news, right? Those tapes could be the key piece of evidence that breaks the case. Well, hardly. Here's what else has been revealed in the last twenty-four hours:

- Just about every player in the drama (aside from Mazzeo) is connected to Gibbons. Through himself, his counsel and advisers, the accused is closely tied to the local sheriff whose force is investigating the assault charges against him; at least one of the two local newspapers covering the scandal; a key judge; the owners of the surveillance tape; and nearly everyone else in his drinking party that fateful night (i.e., witnesses). For starters.

- While the tapes could have been the most important piece of evidence to determine Gibbons' guilt or innocence, they may be useless if they can't be authenticated and their whereabouts established for the past two weeks they've been missing.

- Police finally admitted that there was a fourth 9-1-1 call from that night, from the accuser's sister. Since the incident over two weeks ago, the police have denied they had any record of that call.

From the Associated Press:

In at least 53 competitive House races, the National Republican Campaign Committee has launched hundreds of thousands of automated telephone calls, known as "robo calls."....

Bruce Jacobson, a software engineer from Ardmore, Pa., received three prerecorded messages in four hours. Each began, "Hello, I'm calling with information about Lois Murphy," the Democrat running against two-term incumbent Rep. Jim Gerlach in the Philadelphia-area district.

"Basically, they go on to slam Lois," said Jacobson, who has filed a complaint with the FCC because the source of the call isn't immediately known.

FCC rules say all prerecorded messages must "at the beginning of the message, state clearly the identity of the business, individual, or other entity that is responsible for initiating the call." During or after the message, they must give the telephone number of the caller.

"The way they're sent is deceptive. The number of calls is harassing. The way her stances are presented in these stories is deliberately misleading and deceptive," said Karlyn Messinger, another Murphy supporter from Penn Valley, Pa., who filed a complaint with the FCC.

NRCC spokesman Ed Patru denied any illegal intent.

"All of our political calls are in compliance with the law," Patru said.

Not so, said the Democrats.

"They are violating the regulations that were set up," said Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, who said the DCCC employed one robocall this cycle and paid $500 for it.

Keep in mind that these robo calls sound far less nasty than the push polls going out from the independent conservative attack groups.

The videotapes from surveillance cameras in a Las Vegas parking garage which mysteriously disappeared for two weeks are to be made public, a judge ruled yesterday. The tapes are said to have been recorded during the period of time a woman alleges Rep. Jim Gibbons (R-NV) assaulted her in that garage.

Police investigating the Oct. 13 incident were told by the garage's management company that no tapes existed. Two weeks later, the company told Rep. Gibbons' camp that the tapes had been located. A short while later, the company notified police of the tapes. Gibbons has pushed for the release of the tapes, claiming they show the story of his accuser, Chrissy Mazzeo, is false.

Questions have arisen about the tapes, their disappearance, and their sudden resurfacing. In particular, concerns run high over ties between Gibbons and the property company: One of Gibbons' most powerful campaign advisers, Sig Rogich, is a longtime Las Vegas power broker who once lobbied on behalf of the property company. Rogich's offices are also in the same complex as the parking garage, and are managed by the firm, Crescent Real Estate Equities.