Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Thoughts on Plame-Gate, and Other Matters

John Hannah and David Wurmser are cooperating in the Fitzgerald probe. Today's Times reports that Cheney was Scooter Libby's source on the identity of Valerie Plame. The story then says:

Mr. Libby's notes indicate that Mr. Cheney had gotten his information about Ms. Wilson from George J. Tenet, the director of central intelligence, in response to questions from the vice president about Mr. Wilson. But they contain no suggestion that either Mr. Cheney or Mr. Libby knew at the time of Ms. Wilson's undercover status or that her identity was classified. Disclosing a covert agent's identity can be a crime, but only if the person who discloses it knows the agent's undercover status.

If Tenant told the Veep of Ms. Plame's status, then the storm clouds are gathering, and it's time to bust out the popcorn.

If Plame-Gate, or Neocon-Gate, seems a bit more complex than a Bill Clinton sex scandal, you may want to check out today's column by Justin Raimondo over at Anti-War.com. It may also be helpful to listen to this interview Raimondo gave to Scott Horton.

Marin Walker is reporting that the scope of Fitzgerald's inquiry is way beyond the Plame outing and "has now widened to include the forgery of documents on African uranium that started the investigation." "Two facts are now known," says Walker "and between them they do not bode well for the deputy chief of staff at the White House, Karl Rove, President George W Bush's senior political aide, not for Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby." Walker continues:

The first is that Fitzgerald last year sought and obtained from the Justice Department permission to widen his investigation from the leak itself to the possibility of cover-ups, perjury and obstruction of justice by witnesses. This has renewed the old saying from the days of the Watergate scandal, that the cover-up can be more legally and politically dangerous than the crime.

The second is that NATO sources have confirmed to United Press International that Fitzgerald's team of investigators has sought and obtained documentation on the forgeries from the Italian government.

The selective use of intel, building worst-case scenario upon worst-case scenario is about to be put under the microscope.

Meanwhile, Howard Fineman is reporting that the neocons already have an exit strategy--blame the Bushies. In a syndicated column near you, it would be prudent to expect the Perle/Krauthammer/Kristol/Frum/Barnes Axis of Evil to argue that their utopian, neo-Wilsonian imperialism isn't at fault for the disaster befalling us in Iraq. Heaven forbid! Rather, it is the incompetent and crony-laden administration and their waging of war that was all wrong.

Well, yes, the administration is incompetent and crony-laden. But it is the self-styled laptop bombardiers hiding out in cubicles at the American Enterprise Institute that are the real problem. These jokers have been whooping it up for years, hoping to start wars hither and yon, looking for Uncle Sam to play Mr. Fixit around the world. The irrepressible Murray Rothbard explains the neo fixation with invading the world and describes the neocons aptly:

They like to say: well sure we can get in and "win" easily, but how do we get out? In order to fix up democracy, genocide, poverty, hate, etc., we the United States, must create the country's infrastructure, set up and train its entire army and police (preferably in the U.S.). We must teach the benighted country about freedom and free elections, create its two Respectable political parties, and begin with a massive multi-billion dollar aid program to make everyone healthy, wealthy, and wise, provide an educational program (replete with dropping huge bags of food by plane so CNN can do handsprings – even if some of the "helped" are killed by the bags), outlaw smoking and junk food, and feed them all with tofu and organically grown mangoes.

Jonathan Chait is more perceptive than your average social conservative poohbah. He argues that the Miers nomination brought to the surface something that was as obvious as the nose on Bill Kristol's face--social conservatives are riding in the back of the GOP bus and "economic conservatives" are driving. Chait points to the Abramoff scandal as Exhibit A demonstrating the subordination of social conservatives. "The episode," writes Chait, "shows how GOP leaders view social conservative organizations as "rent-a-mobs" that can be manipulated into nearly any cause." Chait notes what I've pointed out elsewhere, that while some conservatives "criticized Miers, Dobson praised her, and she won unqualified endorsements from Jerry Falwell and groups like the Christian Coalition and the American Center for Law and Justice." With friends like this, who needs enemies? Or as Chait more colorfully puts it, "With allies like these, Bush doesn't have much incentive to work harder to reward his social conservative base. No wonder the poor, nutty bastards got hosed again."

By the way, The New Republic, a standard-bearer of establishment liberalism, has a new blog.

Here is a conservative case for exiting Iraq by the intrepid Ron Paul, via The Nation. Here are couple quotes:

"But isn't it quite possible that these dangers are simply a consequence of having gone into Iraq in the first place, rather than a consequence of leaving?"


"Isn't it possible that staying only makes the situation worse? If chaos results after our departure, it's because we occupied Iraq, not because we left."

Amen. How 'bout Paul-Tancredo '08?

I don't agree with everything he writes, but since Scott McConnell assumed editorial duties at The American Conservative, each issue is getting better and better. The latest installment contains a piece on the folly of nation building by James Payne. There are also two short pieces that will make you want to scream. The first, by Phil Giraldi, uncovers the waft of corruption at the heart of the Coalition Provisional Government in Iraq. Then there is an absolutely outrageous essay by Steven Baskerville enumerating stories of soldiers who have had their children kidnapped by harlots with the connivance of the state. Here are three cases unearthed by Baskerville:

• “Gary,” an 18-year veteran with an unblemished military and civilian record, was stripped of his child by a California court while deployed in Afghanistan as a Navy SEAL, according to Fox News. Columnist Glenn Sacks reports that he is now being bankrupted by child support and legal fees.

• Bobby Sherrill, a father of two from Parkton, North Carolina, was held hostage in Iraq for nearly five months. The night he returned from the Persian Gulf he was arrested for failing to pay $1,425 in child support while captive.

• While serving in Iraq, Taron James was ordered to pay support for a child he knew could not be his, and DNA tests confirmed his claim. The district attorney and Los Angeles County Child Support Services nevertheless seized his tax refund annually, blocked him from renewing his notary-public license—which caused him to lose his job—ruined his credit, blocked him from obtaining a passport, and forced him to drop out of college.

I haven't seen the New Yorker piece, but apparently Brent Scowcroft comes out swinging at the administration and the neocons. Meanwhile, Colin Powell's former right-hand man is squawking up a storm about the Cheney-Rummy cabal, saying of Dougie Feith, "Seldom in my life have I met a dumber man," and calling Condi Rice "extremely weak." This is all well and good, I suppose. But where were these fellas when we needed them? Where were the men who possess the character of William Jennings Bryan, willing to resign rather than go along for the ride? Frankly, it's cowardly and scandalous to say such things now, three years too late.