Word on the Street: Obama Advisor David Axelrod Sued By Fellow Political Advisor Over Claim In Book

9k=220px-David_AxelrodThere is a bizarre legal tiff between political operatives in Philadelphia over who came up with an attack strategy to save the career of Democratic Mayor John Street in 2003. Street was implicated in a “pay-to-play” scandal. While he was not charged, a slew of his associates and fundraisers were. Now, Philadelphia campaign consultant Frank Keel has sued Obama presidential campaign adviser David Axelrod over Axelrod’s claim that he came up with the attack strategy that saved Street. Keel insists that Axelrod is taking credit for the idea of attacking the George W. Bush Administration to spin the scandal. While that strikes me as a pretty obvious strategy, it appears a defining moment that both men want to claim. Keel also sued Penguin Random House.

In his new book, “Believer: My Forty Years in Politics,” Axelrod takes credit for the plan. Keel is irate and his lawsuit states that “[Axelrod’s] brazen and successful handling of the crisis launched Keel to the forefront of his profession.” For his part, Axelrod admits that other advisers “arrived at the same conclusion or proceeded on parallel tracks.”

Frankly, I am not sure why this is such a remarkable strategy to claim. Other than innocence or a confession, the only other strategy is to call the investigation politically motivated. Politicians have been doing that for centuries. I think that greater shock is what constitutes breakthrough or signature work among political advisers.

Count One is a Lanham Act claims based on false representations made in Interstate commerce.

Count Two is a common law unfair competition charge.

Both seem remarkable weak in my view.

Here is the lawsuit.

17 thoughts on “Word on the Street: Obama Advisor David Axelrod Sued By Fellow Political Advisor Over Claim In Book”

  1. nettles:
    “We were given horrific predictions of “mushroom clouds”

    The warning of a possible “mushroom cloud” was not a justification for invasion and was not presented as such because, by procedure, the intelligence could not trigger enforcement. By law and policy, the casus belli was Iraq’s noncompliance with UN mandates, ie, material breach of the ceasefire.

    That there were indicators that Iraq was violating the nuclear mandates of UNSCR 687 is true. President Bush’s warning of a possible “mushroom cloud” as a possible consequence if Iraq continued to be noncompliant with UN mandates carried forward President Clinton’s standing warning (link) of “the very kind of threat Iraq poses now: a rogue state with weapons of mass destruction, ready to use them or provide them to terrorists” .

    Both presidents’ fear of Saddam’s combined terrorism and WMD threat emphasized the need for UN and IAEA inspectors to return to Iraq ASAP in order to verify Iraq was fully compliant with the disarmament mandates, including the nuclear mandates, of UNSCR 687.

    Enabled by the credible threat of regime change, when the UN inspectors were able to return to Iraq to test Saddam’s compliance in his “final opportunity to comply” (UNSCR 1441), the IAEA findings on the nuclear issue were relatively promising, but UNMOVIC’s findings on the other disarmament issues were dire.

    The casus belli for Operation Iraqi Freedom was Saddam’s failure to comply with the UNSCR 1441 inspections along with Iraq’s other ongoing UNSCR 660-series violations. After Saddam failed the UNSCR 1441 compliance test, the regime change in March 2003 was the preliminary step of the US-led, UN-mandated process to bring Iraq into compliance with the UN mandates.

    ”shown vials of powder that could wipe out entire populations”

    The vial held up by Secretary Powell illustrated that small amounts of bio-chem weapon could wreak havoc.

    On that issue, what did UNMOVIC find that informed the President’s decision for OIF?

    An example of UNMOVIC reporting from the UNSCR 1441 inspection period is this statement by Hans Blix to the UN Security Council on January 27, 2003:

    The nerve agent VX is one of the most toxic ever developed. Iraq has declared that it only produced VX on a pilot scale, just a few tons, and that the quality was poor and the product unstable.
    Consequently, it was said that the agent was never weaponized.
    Iraq said that the small quantity of [the] agent remaining after the Gulf War was unilaterally destroyed in the summer of 1991.
    UNMOVIC, however, has information that conflicts with this account. There are indications that Iraq had worked on the problem of purity and stabilization and that more had been achieved than has been declared. Indeed, even one of the documents provided by Iraq indicates that the purity of the agent, at least in laboratory production, was higher than declared.
    There are also indications that the agent was weaponized.

    The UNMOVIC Cluster Document, the principal trigger for OIF, found:

    UNMOVIC has credible information that the total quantity of BW [biological weapons] agent in bombs, warheads and in bulk at the time of the Gulf War was 7,000 litres more than declared by Iraq [and] … With respect to stockpiles of bulk agent stated to have been destroyed, there is evidence to suggest that these was [sic] not destroyed as declared by Iraq.

    Secretary Powell’s vial would have held less than a liter of agent, of course, let alone the “7,000 litres” of unaccounted for BW agent that UNMOVIC’s evidence suggested was “not destroyed as declared by Iraq” (UNMOVIC).

    The Iraq Survey Group found:

    ISG uncovered information that the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) maintained throughout 1991 to 2003 a set of undeclared covert laboratories to research and test various chemicals and poisons, primarily for intelligence operations. The network of laboratories could have provided an ideal, compartmented platform from which to continue CW [chemical weapons] agent R&D or small-scale production efforts …

    [The] following are of particular concern, as they relate to the possibility of a retained BW [biological weapons] capability or the ability to initiate a new one.
    • ISG cannot determine the fate of Iraq’s stocks of bulk BW agents remaining after Desert Storm and subsequent unilateral destruction. There is a very limited chance that continuing investigation may provide evidence to resolve this issue.
    • The fate of the missing bulk agent storage tanks.
    • The fate of a portion of Iraq’s BW agent seed-stocks.
    • The nature, purpose and who was involved in the secret biological work in the small IIS laboratories discovered by ISG.

    The active IIS program found by ISG is particularly eye-catching because the IIS was, of course, Saddam’s regime arm notorious for working with terrorists and carrying out Saddam’s in-house black ops. In fact, Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons programs started in the IIS.

    “and told that Saddam was connected to the World Trade attacks”

    Incorrect. That Saddam was behind the 9/11 attacks was not claimed by Bush administration officials. Rather, the 9/11 attacks highlighted the threat of Saddam’s terrorism, which violated UNSCR 687 and was a trigger for OIF in its own right.

    Neither US law and policy nor UNSCR 687 permitted Saddam’s terrorism as long as long as Saddam was not culpable for the 9/11 attacks. Nor was Saddam’s terrorism permitted as long as it stopped short of direct coordination with Bin Laden’s terrorism.

    “far from being a supporter of Al Qaeda, he [Saddam]was an enemy of that terrorist group;”

    Incorrect. The Iraqi Perspectives Project (link), which studied captured documents from Saddam’s regime, found:

    While these documents do not reveal direct coordination and assistance between the Saddam regime and the al Qaeda network, they do indicate that Saddam was willing to use, albeit cautiously, operatives affiliated with al Qaeda as long as Saddam could have these terrorist�operatives monitored closely. Because Saddam�s security organizations and Osama bin Laden�s terrorist network operated with similar aims (at least in the short term), considerable overlap was inevitable when monitoring, contacting, financing, and training the same outside groups. This created both the appearance of and, in some ways, a �de facto� link between the organizations. At times, these organizations would work together in pursuit of shared goals but still maintain their autonomy and independence because of innate caution and mutual distrust.

    “Plus, the sanctions were effective.”

    Incorrect. The Iraq Survey Group Duelfer Report found:

    The successful implementation of the Protocols, continued oil smuggling efforts, and the manipulation of UN OFF [Oil for Food] contracts emboldened Saddam to pursue his military reconstitution efforts starting in 1997 and peaking in 2001. These efforts covered conventional arms, dual-use goods acquisition, and some WMD-related programs.

    Prohibited goods and weapons were being shipped into Iraq with virtually no problem. The only notable items stopped in this flow were some aluminum tubes, which became the center of debate over the existence of a nuclear enrichment effort in Iraq. Major items had no trouble getting across the border, including 380 liquid-fuel rocket engines. Indeed, Iraq was designing missile systems with the assumption that sanctioned material would be readily available.

  2. nettles,

    As I said, it’s an explanation of the law and policy, fact basis for Operation Iraqi Freedom. The ‘proof’ underlying the explanation is in the basic essentials sources (link) or, if you prefer, the larger table of sources (link) for OIF.

    nettles: “none of what was in those reports was told to the public”

    By 2002, the US-led, UN-mandated mission to “bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations” (PL 105-235) had been front-page news for over a decade. The grounds for the Gulf War ceasefire enforcement are exceptionally solid, built up from over a decade of Saddam’s steadfast noncompliance with the terms of the ceasefire – across the board, not just the disarmament mandates – as it progressed to OIF. The UNSCRs that set the “governing standard of Iraqi compliance”, the US law and policy that enforced Iraqi compliance, and the determinative fact findings that confirmed Saddam’s material breach in his “final opportunity to comply” (UNSCR 1441) are a straightforward, basic formula. The primary sources for OIF are open record and easily accessed on-line – no FOIA request, research trip to the capital, or even local librarian assistance needed.

    Anyone who wants to learn the ‘why’ of OIF need not rely on “bona fide authority on the subject” – not even mine. To place yourself in the proper context of the President’s shoes at the decision point for OIF, review the primary sources to learn the truth of the matter for yourself. The explanation I provide is a cheat sheet that helps with that.

  3. First off, it’s self-serving and tacky to cite to your blog in trying to “prove” something, unless you are a bona fide authority on the subject instead of someone reinforcing an entrenched opinion in the blogoshere.

    Secondly, you can pick through enough government documents and UN reports to support either side of the question. There’s someone else who likes to declaim on how internal Clinton documents cogently made the case for going to war in Iraq and the UN findings left little doubt that blah, blah, blah….

    The fact is, none of what was in those reports was told to the public; none of it was forceful enough to require the Senate to approve the resolution for going to war in Iraq; most of it was conjecture and fabrication.

    We were given horrific predictions of “mushroom clouds”, shown vials of powder that could wipe out entire populations, and told that Saddam was connected to the World Trade attacks. And anyone who attempted to cast doubt on those assertions was shouted down, vilified, dismissed, and in the end, ignored.

    Turns out nothing Bush told the American people about Saddam and Iraq was true. He wasn’t connected to 911; far from being a supporter of Al Qaeda, he was an enemy of that terrorist group; and his weapons program was shabby and outdated, at best. Plus, the sanctions were effective.

    I think the other Bush apologist, or ‘excuser’ is Isaac. He seems fond of insisting that Clinton had set the war in motion by making the case for it, and Bush merely carried out the plan. But Clinton also made the case for going after Bin Laden and Bush never did anything about him, before or after the World Trade attacks. Why Hussein? The answer is money, and you’ve been duped.

  4. nettles: “They deceived the nation into a bogus war in Iraq.”

    For the record, explanation (link) of the law and policy, fact basis for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

    See, in particular, the answers to “Did Iraq failing its compliance test justify the regime change?” and “Did Bush lie his way to war with Iraq?”.

  5. “Wondering who invented the Democratic “Blame Bush” strategy of desperation is like trying to claim you invented the letter “Q.” It’s ubiquitous and probably arose spontaneously….”

    Probably right after Bush and his administration allowed terrorists to attack us on 911, trashed the Constitution, destroyed the economy, wrecked the environment, screwed the American people, approved the use of torture, fomented corruption here and around the world, and one more thing. Hmmm, what was it. O yeh! They deceived the nation into a bogus war in Iraq.

    I could go on, but hey, aren’t Republicans all about responsibility? Like pigs are all about flying?

    1. That’s disgusting The Pakistan thing was really bad. I have Facebook friends in Pakistan. I just sit and listen because I have no words ;(

  6. Wondering who invented the Democratic “Blame Bush” strategy of desperation is like trying to claim you invented the letter “Q.” It’s ubiquitous and probably arose spontaneously from multiple sources.

    And, boy, do they love that strategy when they have nothing else.

  7. TJustice

    I will drink to that and if much younger I would have toked to it. 😉

  8. I think what is way more interesting than slimy political operatives is the fact that Axelrod is the Director of the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago… Do slimy things in our elite culture to prop-up shady figures, legislation, policy etc., one is generally rewarded.

  9. Isaac, You are getting really lame. Thankfully you’re not a horse. Bringing in Obama on an Axelrod post is completely legit. You have devolved from a Touchstone like commenter to Baghdad Bob. You are better than that.

  10. “I’m shocked there is no honor amongst slimeball weasels, just shocked! Axelrod is Chicago through and through and Obama’s Chicago Way man in the WH. Obama’s Rasputin, Valerie Jarrett, is his Chicago Way mommy.

  11. Honesty went out with Mr. Smith goes to Washington…Oh wait, that was a movie. Well, I guess that means anyone in politics is dishonest, who would have thunk.

  12. What kind of ambulance chaser would take this case? Sounds like a vexatious and frivolous lawsuit to me. Keel must be too lazy to write his own book. Axelrod should seek legal fees and costs plus any other relief available.

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