Libby the Liar

WASHINGTON – Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, was indicted Friday on five charges that include obstruction of justice, making false statements and perjury in the investigation into the leak of a covert CIA agent’s name.

The five-count indictment accuses Libby of lying about how and when he learned about CIA official Valerie Plane’s identity in 2003 and then told reporters about it. The information was classified.

Story here.

Read the indictment here.

Josh Marshall makes an interesting observation about how the indictment makes it very clear that Cheney and Libby knew all along that Valerie Plame was a spy.

Herbert Gets It

Unlike the opinion pieces in Tuesday’s New York Times written by two people who seem to miss the whole point of the Plame investigation (see below,) Bob Herbert nails it in his column today.

Excerpts:

Much of the nation is mourning the more than 2,000 American G.I.’s lost to the war in Iraq. But some of the mindless Washington weasels who sent those brave and healthy warriors to their unnecessary doom have other things on their minds. They’re scrambling about the capital, huddling frantically with lawyers, hoping that their habits of deception, which are a way of life with them, don’t finally land them in a federal penitentiary.

See them sweat. The most powerful of the powerful, the men who gave the president his talking points and his marching orders, are suddenly sending out distress signals: Don’t let them send me to prison on a technicality.

This is not, however, about technicalities. You can spin it any way you want, but Patrick Fitzgerald’s investigation of Karl Rove, Scooter Libby et al. is ultimately about the monumentally conceived and relentlessly disseminated deceit that gave us the war that never should have happened.

(Snip)

In addition to the more than 2,000 dead, an additional 15,000 Americans have been wounded. Some of these men and women have sacrificed one, two and even three limbs. Some have been permanently blinded and others permanently paralyzed – some both. Some have been horribly burned.

For the Iraqis, the toll is beyond hideous. Perhaps 30,000 dead, of which an estimated 10 percent have been children. The number of Iraqi wounded is anybody’s guess.

And to close…

Thousands upon thousands are suffering and dying in Iraq while, in Washington, incompetence continues its macabre marathon dance with incoherence.

High ranking officials in the Bush Administration went too far in their efforts to silence and discredit those who opposed their plans to invade Iraq. They exposed an undercover CIA agent, and we’ll soon know if they knew enough about Plame at the time they blew her cover to make their retalitory act an act of treason.

We now know that the Administration was not honest with the American people when this story broke. They are seldom honest about anything, and that’s the problem. In this case, their deceit was used to sell their war that has resulted in the deaths of many of thousands of people, and many thousands more will die in the future.

For those of you who brush it off as just dirty politics with statements like, “They all lie once and while. Clinton lied too…” let’s have some perspective here… Clinton wasn’t always truthful, but nobody died because he lied about a blow job.

Scandal? What Scandal?

Tom Tomorrow must have foreseen today’s New York Times opinion pieces by Tierney and Kristof when he created this week’s comic.

Here’s and excerpt from Tierney’s “A Pointless Probe.” (Yes, you do have to pay to read this stuff online…sorry.)

But no one deserves to go to jail for leaking information to reporters without criminal intent. The special prosecutor was assigned to look for serious crimes, not to uncover evidence that bureaucrats blame other bureaucrats when things go wrong.

No one deserves to be indicted on conspiracy charges for belonging to a group that believed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Foreign policy mistakes are not against the law.

Mistakes? Is that what he calls the Bush Team’s purposeful use of false information to scare citizens and Congress into thinking that Iraq was developing nuclear weapons, and that within months we could see a mushroom cloud in the U.S.? Is attacking anyone who dares challenge their use of what were known to be false reports by revealing the identity of a CIA agent a simple “mistake?” OOOPS! Sorry… please forgive our aduaciousness.

And here’s an excerpt from Kristof’s “Hurricane Fitzgerald.”

Mr. Fitzgerald is rumored to be considering mushier kinds of indictments, for perjury, obstruction of justice or revealing classified information.

(Snip )

My guess is that the participants in a White House senior staff meeting discussed Mr. Wilson’s trip and the charges that the administration had knowingly broadcast false information about uranium in Niger – and then decided to take the offensive. The leak of Mrs. Wilson’s identity resulted from that offensive, but it may well have been negligence rather than vengeance.

(Snip)

To me, the whisper campaign against Mr. Wilson amounts to back-stabbing politics, but not to obvious criminality. And if indictments are issued for White House officials on vague charges of revealing classified information, that will have a chilling effect on the reporting of national security issues.

(Snip)

So I find myself repulsed by the glee that some Democrats show at the possibility of Karl Rove and Mr. Libby being dragged off in handcuffs.

A chilling effect on reporting? Hmmm maybe… I’d like to think that indictments would have a chilling effect on the abuse of power by this administration. That’s what I’m concerned about: Shutting these guys down. If it takes a “mushy” indictment for perjury or obstruction of justice, so be it. And no… the charges would not fill me with “glee.” I liken the coming indictments to the Feds finally taking down Al Capone. He did not go to prison for the heinous murders he committed. He was convicted and sentenced for the rather mundane charges of tax evasion. If we have to peck away at the Bush Administration with charges of lesser crimes, well that’s a start. Those charges will eventually open the door to expose them as the most mendacious, ruthless, and corrupt administration in modern history.

Splattergate

Not a lot of time today…

Here’s an excerpt and link to a Raw Story article about how Plame was outed to the press.

Those close to the investigation say that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has been told that David Wurmser, then a Middle East adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney on loan from the office of then-Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs John Bolton, met with Cheney and his chief of staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby in June 2003 and told Libby that Plame set up the Wilson trip. He asserted that it was a boondoggle, the sources said.

Libby then shared the information with Karl Rove, President Bush’s deputy chief of staff, the sources said. Wurmser also passed on the same information about Wilson to then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley and then-National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice, they added.

Within a week, Wurmser, on orders from “executives in the office of the vice president,” was told to leak her name to a specific group of reporters in an effort to muzzle her husband, Wilson, who had become a thorn in the side of the administration, those close to the inquiry say.

I got the link from Bob Harris’s site. As Bob noted, if this is true, it’s going to be a very interesting week for Bush and Company.

“Background Noise”

Bush spoke of some “background noise” yesterday and how it wouldn’t prevent him from doing his job. There’s some background noise all right and most of it has to do with White House officials talking to their lawyers as they go back and forth to the grand jury investigation on the CIA leak case.

A few months ago, it was all about Karl Rove. Now it’s at the very least about Rove and Scooter Libby. Some are speculating that others are involved. The list of possible co-conspirators include Cheney, Bush, and even the White House gigolo, Jeff Gannon/Guckert.

Here’s the latest from The New York Times:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 20 – As he weighs whether to bring criminal charges in the C.I.A. leak case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special counsel, is focusing on whether Karl Rove, the senior White House adviser, and I. Lewis Libby Jr., chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, sought to conceal their actions and mislead prosecutors, lawyers involved in the case said Thursday.

Among the charges that Mr. Fitzgerald is considering are perjury, obstruction of justice and false statement – counts that suggest the prosecutor may believe the evidence presented in a 22-month grand jury inquiry shows that the two White House aides sought to cover up their actions, the lawyers said.

Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby have been advised that they may be in serious legal jeopardy, the lawyers said, but only this week has Mr. Fitzgerald begun to narrow the possible charges. The prosecutor has said he will not make up his mind about any charges until next week, government officials say.

With the term of the grand jury expiring in one week, though, some lawyers in the case said they were persuaded that Mr. Fitzgerald had all but made up his mind to seek indictments. None of the lawyers would speak on the record, citing the prosecutor’s requests not to talk about the case.

(Snip)

But Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby may not be the only people at risk. There may be others in the government who could be charged for violations of the disclosure law or of other statutes, like the espionage act, which makes it a crime to transmit classified information to people not authorized to receive it.

I don’t like the way these guys operate on any level, so I’d like to see them all indicted and hauled off to jail: Rove, Libby, Cheney, Bush, and they might as well throw Gannon in there to make it a real jailhouse party.

Miers Mulligan

George W. Bush took a big swing at the ball on the O’Connor replacement tee but he topped it. The ball bounced a few yards ahead of him and then dribbled on a bit before coming to rest before the gallery. Even his most avid fans didn’t think he could recover from such a terrible shot, so they suggested he take a mulligan. Will he feel the shame?

The New York Times comments on Miers’ own “do-over” in this editorial from the Thursday edition:

Ms. Miers had an opportunity to win over the skeptics this week with her answers to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s questionnaire. But her responses were so unimpressive that the top Republican and Democrat on that committee took the extraordinary step yesterday of instructing her to give it another try, this time with more “particularity and precision.” She thus became perhaps the most important judicial nominee in history to be offered what amounts to a do-over on a take-home quiz.

(Snip)

President Bush has either picked a court nominee so underqualified that she cannot even go through the motions competently, or he believes that once he gives his personal endorsement to a candidate, the Senate will silently fall into line. But the founding fathers made it clear that filling vacancies in the judicial branch is the joint responsibility of the president and the Senate, and at this point the senators are beginning to look downright offended.

Read Miers’ responses to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s questionnaire here.

L.A. Times story here.

Well it’s good to see senators from both sides take their jobs seriously. Their scrutiny may result in another big failure for President Bush.

Start the Revolution

I read “What America Needs Now: A Prophetic Social Movement that Speaks Moral Truth to Amoral Power” by Andrew Bard Schmooker, and I liked it. Here’s an excerpt:

America would be fine in the hands of people devoted to real conservative values. But this is something different, something dangerous. For America is now ruled by forces apparently not guided by any genuine values at all. One can look in vain for any juncture where they’ve made a decision that sacrificed any of their power or wealth in favor of some larger good.

And this is not just about this particular presidency, which should be understood as the creature of bigger forces. These forces – an alliance of the greediest part of American capitalism with the most power-hungry and imperialist of American politicians and with the most divisive and hypocritical of America’s religious leaders-have been gathering power for a generation and will doubtless seek to maintain their grip when its current public faces leave office.

Never in American history has so much power been in such ruthless hands.

Do you feel the the heel in the small of your back? I feel it. What will it take for the rest of America to wake up, recognize the beast, and smash it down? That’s right, things could get ugly when the revolution starts. And oh it will be televised.

New Zealand Divided

Last November, some of you may remember hearing from people you know who were so distraught by the outcome of the election that they were thinking about expatriating to a country with a more progressive population, like say New Zealand.

The Seattle P-I ran this story in November 2004. Excerpt:

Lori, who lives in Tacoma and wishes to be anonymous, said she and her husband and child plan to move to New Zealand and are 50 percent motivated by politics here.

“The current administration heightened our feelings, and the erosion of civil rights and the capitalistic, consumerist culture, which is difficult not to participate in,” she said.

The couple applied to become permanent residents of New Zealand in 2002 and received approval five months ago. Now, they’re taking the steps to immigrate to a place they believe offers a slower pace, is less divisive, and a has greater social net.

New Zealand was one of the countries on my short list too, but according to this report by Barry Lynn, of Americans United for the Separation of Church & State, they are starting to have some of the same problems we have here.

Having now returned from the South Pacific, I can say that New Zealand appears to be just about as deeply politically divided as the United States. The national election was held the last full day we were visiting and it appeared that the more liberal parties had garnered just about 51 percent of the seats in parliament.

What is also interesting is that religious influence on politics seems to be growing there, reflecting some of the same unhealthy tendencies of the United States. Imagine my surprise one morning to see the following headline in the The Dominion Post, the major paper in the capital of Wellington: “WE’RE DOING GOD’S WORK: Christian Sect Tells of Role in Smears Against Labour and the Greens.”

The story was disturbingly familiar. Religion and politics were mixed in a partisan political campaign, with misinformation being spread about progressive politicians. Could Jerry Falwell have relocated? As it turns out, the aforementioned “sect” is called the Exclusive Brethren, and seven of its top leaders had formed a front group that paid for $500,000 worth of fliers claiming that the current government was responsible for radical moral decline, including support for “euthanasia” and laws that would put pastors “in prison for reading the Bible.”

Hmmm… I wonder how Lori is doing now…

Sweden anyone?