castle and lightningAn extra hour.

Tonight, when we turn the clocks back, we get 60 more minutes to do with as we please.

Being Halloween, that might mean an extra hour of reveling for many. For kids, it might mean staying up an extra hour. For others, it might mean an extra hour of sleeping. But for a couple of folks, it definitely means an extra hour of work.

Take, for instance, the people whose job it is to plan Afghanistan policy at the State Department, the DOD, and the White House.

Noises are coming from Afghanistan that President Karzai’s opponent in the recent disputed election, Abdullah Abdullah, is getting close to announcing he will not participate in the scheduled runoff. Abdullah will give a speech tomorrow at 1AM ET, where he is expected to announce his plans; and people at Foggy Bottom, the Pentagon, and the White House will no doubt be using that extra hour tonight to listen and then figure out what it means. One thing is clear, however, if Abdullah refuses to participate in the election:

Diplomats and analysts have said that, according to the constitution, it was possible the run-off might go ahead with Karzai as the only candidate if Abdullah pulls out. They fear that would have a serious impact on the government’s legitimacy.

“If Abdullah boycotts, voter turnout will be very low and Karzai will be declared winner but with a very low legitimacy,” said Haroun Mir, a Kabul-based analyst and director of Afghanistan’s Center for Research and Policy Studies.

As Reuters notes, “the decision to send more [troops] hinges on whether the Afghan government is seen by U.S. lawmakers and the public as a legitimate and viable partner.” It also hinges on whether the Afghan people see the Afghan government as legitimate. McChrystal’s vaunted counterinsurgent strategy depends on winning the support of legitimate local political leaders — and if Karzai is not seen as legitimate by many in Afghanistan, one big part of McChrystal’s strategy is out the window, whether he gets more troops or not.

But someone else who will probably work through that extra hour tonight is Marcy Wheeler. Yesterday’s release of notes on Cheney’s interview with Patrick Fitzgerald and the DOJ has spurred Marcy into full-scale digging through the weeds, and as I said last Spring, “when people know Marcy is digging, her regular readers start to salivate and those with something to hide start to perspire.”

You can start at that link and work your way forward, through one post after another after another, and watch the dots being connected, the timelines checked and filled in, the conflicting stories spotted, and the legal questions raised.

Here’s the line that jumped out at me, from the end of the last of Marcy’s posts yesterday: “I will have far more to say about this in the coming days.”

If you’re Dick Cheney or one of his minions, that sentence is scarier than any Halloween lightning and Vincent Price organ music.

Bwahahahahaha . . .

photo h/t _tomanthony