Bush and Cheney being fingered in the Plamegate scandal by former White
House press secretary Scott McClellan is not news. More than a year ago,
Americans learned about
complicity in the outing of Valerie Plame as a covert CIA operative
-- a treasonous act that put America's national-security at risk -- and
about the coverup that followed.
We learned all this partially from good journalistic reporting and
partially from Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald in his 2005 indictment
of Cheney's then-Chief of Staff Scooter Libby for perjury and
obstruction, and from
May 2007 comments about Cheney after Libby's conviction.
No, the news now is that the political situation is far different than
it was in 2005. Now, Bush and Cheney are much more politically
vulnerable to impeachment and criminal prosecution. Also newsworthy is
that the mainstream media this time around, at least currently, is
mostly treating all this as a non-story, with barely a follow-up mention
of McClellan's bombshell and its implications. And I've seen no story in
the corporate media that mentions Bush's granting of clemency to Libby
as a possible obstruction of justice by someone who stands to benefit by
his aide's continued silence.
If a scandal falls in the forest, and nobody hears it, did it happen?
WE KNOW THEIR THUGGISHNESS
Here's the encouraging truth: The American public, despite all attempts
by the rightwing media to distract and distort, long ago became aware of
the worst crimes, and incompetencies, of the CheneyBush Administration.
How could one not be aware of the following high crimes and
lying and deceiving to get America into Iraq.
ordering violations of citizens' privacy without any
court approval (warrantless wiretapping, secretly rifling through
our computers, our emails).
"disappearing" U.S. citizens and throwing them into
jails on military bases with no access to lawyers.
encouraging torture of prisoners in U.S. care.
skirting international law and war-crimes treaties
by "rendering" suspects to countries that specialize in extreme
canceling the 800-year-old legal tradition of habeas
corpus where a judge must decide whether the arrest of a person is
enabling corruption by U.S. corporations in Iraq and
Afghanistan that amounts to grand larceny of billions from U.S.
responding cluelessly to the Hurricane Katrina
disaster in New Orleans whereupon more than a thousand citizens
And on and on.
In short, the American public has been aware for some time that the
country is being run by a bunch of crooks and liars and dangerous
bunglers in the White House, so how does McClellan's revelation of
likely criminal misconduct add anything new to the mix? The Democrats in
Congress, the ostensible "opposition party," know all about these
Administration transgressions, and much more. But there is no
accountability. Nothing gets done. There are no hearings into possible
impeachment, no enforcement of "contempt of Congress" charges against
key Administration figures who refuse to turn over subpoenaed documents
and to testify under oath.
Just suppose Congress decided to call McClellan and Cheney and Bush and
Card and Libby and Rove to testify about the Plame-outing coverup.
Assuming that the Democrats would ask them probing questions and catch
Bush and Cheney in lies, what do you suppose would happen? Can you
imagine Pelosi and Conyers changing their minds and putting impeachment
back "on the table"? Not likely. But it's still a cause worth fighting
"IT'S THEM THAT'S TO BLAME"
We're in the midst of the two parties trying to run out the clock, for
their own ends. The Republicans support CheneyBush's staying-the-course
plan in Iraq and aim to run out the clock until November 2008 so that it
will be the next President (even better if that person is a Democrat)
who will be blamed for "losing" the war. The Democrats, eager to pin
"Bush's War" disaster on the Republicans, are playing run-out-the-clock
by not forcing an end to the catastrophe. The Dems regard impeachment as
something of an uncertain gamble as well as a grand distraction that
keeps the public from focusing on the endless screw-ups of CheneyBush.
The upshot of both sides playing their long-range political chess-game
is that major, complex problems, foreign and domestic, are not being
properly addressed. In terms of the Iraq war, it also means that
hundreds or maybe even tens of thousands of additional U.S. troops will
die or come back home physically or mentally maimed, and that hundreds
of thousands of more innocent Iraqis may well be slaughtered or wounded
Two Iraq news item of note: 1) Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, who was the
commanding general in Iraq 2003-2004, now says it's
time to bring the U.S. troops home and out from that hellhole
quagmire. 2) We've only now learned that the Pentagon has not been
20,000 U.S. soldiers in Iraq who've suffered traumatic brain injuries
as part of the wounded figures reported each month. Indeed, if one
wanted a more accurate figure for combined American dead and wounded
since 2003, it's probably closer to 75,000-100,000 than it is to the
lowballing figures CheneyBush admit to.)
ANY POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS?
So, is there any hope on the horizon?
I can see two possible avenues worth exploring:
1. After indicting Cheney's Chief of Staff, Scooter Libby, Special
Counsel Fitzgerald never fully closed down his probe into the Plamegate
affair. Basically, he left the case open just a crack in the event new
evidence surfaced. McClellan's published excerpt from his book would
suggest that the Special Counsel might find such evidence if he put the
five principals under oath before a new grand jury and delved further
into the matter.
Here is McClellan's excerpt from the soon-to-be published book, as
Editor & Publisher:
"The most powerful leader in the world had called
upon me to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility he lost
amid the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So I
stood at the White house briefing room podium in front of the glare
of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly
exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl
Rove and Scooter Libby.
"There was one problem. It was not true.
"I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of
the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in
my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice President, the President's chief
of staff, and the president himself."
After that statement about the Big Five was released,
the publisher, Public Affairs Press, backed off a bit. In the above
excerpt, McClellan clearly seems to be aware that a possible obstruction
of justice had taken place, with Cheney and Bush "involved" at the heart
of the coverup. Now, the publisher's quick rollback suggests that there
may be more to this subject than meets the eye. Was McClellan or his
publisher threatened with harm or warned to back down? (The book is due
for publication in April, time enough for some prudent "massaging" of
the text.) It would seem that the only way to find out is to put the
author and publisher under oath before a newly-impaneled grand jury,
along with each of the Big Five.
A POSSIBLE FITZMAS PRESENT?
Will Fitzgerald rise to the occasion, or will he find some convenient,
legalistic excuse to do nothing?
At one time, I thought Fitzgerald was a fearless prosecutor who would go
where the facts suggested and delve deep. He had Rove in his sights and
let him slip away. He excoriated Cheney in his trial summary but went no
further. So I don't know what to think of Fitzgerald now, and whether he
has the cajones to try to re-open the Plame probe in the service of
truth and justice.
2. The Democrats, should they choose to do so, could get McClellan, the
publisher, and the Big Five under oath as well. Let Henry Waxman and his
bulldog staff have a go at them and see if they can discover who's
telling lies and who's closer to the truth. If perjury is committed
under oath before Congress, cite the lies and enforce any contempt
citations. If it's Bush and/or Cheney who are involved and lying,
impeach at once.
Pelosi and Conyers and Reid do not want to go there. That's why it's up
to rank-and-file Democrats -- that's us, folks -- to demand, with
creativity and tenacity, an investigation of McClellan's admission in
such numbers that the media and the relevant Congressional committees
(or perhaps a special joint panel) would feel obliged to hold such
All of this activist momentum could eventuate in nothing being done, of
course -- the Republicans could remain in their delay-and-obstruct mode,
and the Democrats could say a few nasty words and then go back to their
state of moral-hibernation. But if we defenders of democracy truly
believe that CheneyBush are doing great damage to the fabric of American
society, and that lives are on the line, then we really have no choice
but to take them on yet again.
Each time we do so, we add a bit more weight and momentum to those
favoring cleansing and reforming our polity, and, who knows?, that may
just provide just what is needed for the "tipping point," for "critical
mass," to be achieved on the impeachment issue. Want to join in?
Copyright 2007 by Bernard Weiner