Saturday, April 08, 2006

When government goes mad: Cheney

Emphases mine. The usual liars will continue to tell the usual lies, but basically Cheney, with Bush's support, used fraudulent data to justify the invasion of Iraq, then used the powers of government to attack a critic of his fraud (emphase mine).
A 'Concerted Effort' to Discredit Bush Critic

... Fitzgerald reported for the first time this week that "multiple officials in the White House"-- not only Libby and White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, who have previously been identified -- discussed Plame's CIA employment with reporters before and after publication of her name on July 14, 2003, in a column by Robert D. Novak. Fitzgerald said the grand jury has collected so much testimony and so many documents that "it is hard to conceive of what evidence there could be that would disprove the existence of White House efforts to 'punish' Wilson".
The White House went off the rails some time ago.


pidgas said...

Wait a second. Exactly what powers of the government has the adminstration used against Ambassador Joseph Wilson? The power to disseminate information? The ridiculous thing about all this is that Mr. Wilson has done more to discredit himself and expose his wife than the administration.

Mr. Wilson, nominated by his "undercover" (yeah right) wife went off to Niger to "investigate" possible nuclear proliferation when he had NO nuclear expertise whatsoever. He comes back, never files a written report (though he was debriefed), and writes "I went back to my life." CIA records of his debriefing show that he reported that Iraq had approached Niger to buy yellowcake in 1999. He didn't know about the documents that turned up in Rome in 2002 until many months after he returned, and he had nothing to do with determining their authenticity (eventually determined to be fraudulent). Nevertheless, he had the audacity to write a politically opportunistic and factually distorted editorial entitled "What I didn't find" in mid-2003 as if his trip interviewing former Nigerian officials, "drinking sweet mint tea", and analyzing the ownership of uranium mines in Niger had effectively ruled out the sale of uranium to Iraq when it had also confirmed that Iraq had seriously approached Niger for uranium. His numerous and distortions in the print and television media were exposed by the Senate Select Intelligence Committee Report on Prewar Iraq Intelligence in 2004.

Valerie Plame was widely known to be Wilson's wife in Washington social circles and her identity was not vigorously protected by the CIA. An amici curariae brief on behalf of the MSM itself (which deliciously howled for the special prosecutor that put journalists in jail) argues that the concealment of Valerie Plame's identity by the CIA was sloppy tradecraft at best. She was making political donations in her own name, living in Washington D.C., driving to and from Langly to work her desk job, etc. In June 2003, the now celebrity Joe Wilson spoke at the Education for Peace in Iraq Center. Their website had a biography that concluded, "He is married to the former Valerie Plame and has four children." This is interesting because Robert Novak wrote his article "outing" Valerie Plame in July 2003. It only became a "scandal" after the angry left started hyperventilating over David Corn's stultified piece in The Nation magazine accusing the administration of compromising an undercover CIA spy. The Special Prosecutor charged to investigate has indicted people for "obstruction of justice" but refuses to even confirm whether or not Valerie Plame was undercover...the basis upon which the entire investigation rests!

Bush didn't "leak" classified material...he authorized the release of material to counter the mischaracterization of intelligence in the MSM (based on real leaks). As I'm sure you're aware, he and the Vice President have the power to classify and de-classify material as they deem appropriate. Accusing the President of "leaking" is an absurd concept...the word is being used only for effect since the "crime" is so underwhelming and insignificant. His administration didn't "out" an undercover CIA officer...she was outed by herself, her husband, and the sloppy tradecraft of the CIA long before anyone in the administration thought it politically interesting that the former diplomat now doing the Sunday morning talk-show circuit, writing op-eds, and criticizing the administration for manipulation of intelligence was nominated for the mission by his own wife (clearly on the merits of his qualifications ... which were ... what exactly?).

JGF said...

It's nice to have a good summary from the other side.

I don't think it changes anything. Wilson was right (in retrospect), his wife was undercover (you don't deny it, "yeah right" is not a refutation), Bush and/or Cheney released the report Feith created for Cheney him to further a fraud (which Cheney may or may not have known was a fraud). Bush and or Cheney authorized and supported a campaign to discredit Wilson.

Whether Bush's action is "leaking" or not depends on the whether a "leak" is necessarily an illegal act. Bush had the power to do it legally, but it was covert information released covertly for a malign purpose.

So while your points may be true, (I suspect they are not, but I don't know for sure) they are also irrelevant to the accusations I've made against Cheney and Bush.

pidgas said...

First, the case against her being considered undercover does not hinge on my parenthetical comment. If you click the link for the word undercover, you can read for yourself the amici curarie brief filed by lawyers for the NY Times, CNN, Washington Post, etc. on behalf of Judith Miller and Matt Cooper. I think they do a fairly good job of refuting the assertion that Ms. Plame was "undercover" in any meaningful sense. Ironically, these same organizations are the same ones who used their editorial arms to harp on the need to investigate this leak! Even more impressive is how these same news organizations have buried their own evidence that no crime was committed. Worse, they continue to cover it as if they have no information on the matter except what Fitzgerald might bequeath them. Oh well.

Amb. Wilson and others were the impetus from which grew the infamous "16 words" scandal. Thing of it is, that the factual underpinnings of that 16 word statement have not been formally discredited. So actually, the administration was even more right than Wilson can claim. Yes yes, there was the forged document that was mysteriously "dropped off" in the lap of the intelligence community by an Italian reporter Rome in October 2002 (one month before UN Resolution 1441 was adopted). Yet, the case never rested in any meaningful way upon these discredited documents. In fact, there were numerous reports (including Mr. Wilson's) that Iraqi delegations were popping up in at least Congo, Nigeria, and Somalia seeking to purchase yellowcake. Whether these delegations were in any way successful is rather irrelevant because their clear intent was understood and the accuracy of the State of the Union sentence did not rest upon their success. The statement was approved by the CIA but changed to attribute the information to British sources so as to protect methods and sources. Not because there was any question about the facts behind the assertion.

Amb. Wilson was going around asserting that the African yellowcake story was "disproved" by his trip to Niger, that the Administration was lying, that he identified the Iraq-Niger documents as forgeries (though they appeared 8 months after his trip and he's subsequently admitted to having never seen them), and that his wife had nothing to do with his assignment! During that speech to EPIC, he spoke of himself extensively in the third person declaring that the ambassador to Africa mentioned by Kristof and others is "pissed" and gonna make sure this "story has legs." What's more, he conveniently left out his discovery that Iraqis had been in Niger seeking yellowcake. He also knew little about existing evidence at the CIA showing that other African countries had received Iraqi delegations engaged in the same activity around the same time (1999-2001). Yet Wilson has the temerity to pass himself off as an authority on the matter and strike out at the administration with reams of unsubstantiated slander.

Leaking is the unauthorized dissemination of information designated classified or secret. It has little to do with the purpose for which the leak occurs. The President cannot technically "leak." And if you consider the correction of the record and discrediting of an ex-government official spreading self-aggrandizing misrepresentations of the intelligence assessments upon which the war was based a "malign" purpose, then so be it. However, politics is a rough game. Amb. Wilson decided to try and kneecap the president from the shadows. Then he stepped into the ring and lead with his chin, ready to tour, with a book to sell. His consistent misrepresentations of himself, his findings, and his wife's role in his assignment, I think, argue against his credibility. And, as I said before, he discredited himself far more than the administration ever did. He stepped in it by misrepresenting his knowledge of the intelligence and self-aggrandizing. The administration made sure everyone saw the poo on his shoe. The Senate Intelligence Committee basically verified everything the administration was saying about Amb. Wilson. All that's left is this laughable suggestion that Valerie Plame was an undercover spy giving political donations under her real name, driving in public to her desk job at Langley, and widely identified as Joe Wilson's wife Valerie Plame (by Joe himself). The Vanity Fair cover is just about too much to take. "The Politics of Truth," my foot. Truth was the last thing they were selling and selling and selling. I guess they thought they'd get a pass but politics is tough, wear a cup. The Wilsons are, in my assessment, a highly cultivated piece of political theatre. Complete with a special prosecutor who refuses to verify (after three years) whether or not the original action he was called to investigate was even a crime.

JGF said...


I had a hard time finding a web definiton of leak. One I found was "to deliberately give out information before it should have officially been released".

It may well be that neither Cheney nor Bush can be convicted of a crime or of "leaking" since they can define the very meaning of "official". Given their conduct they would likely be impeached if the GOP did not control the government. I'm sure you would, of course, consider Clinton's sexual laxity to have been a much more serious basis for impeachment.

In any case, I just reviewed my original post:

"Cheney, with Bush's support, used fraudulent data to justify the invasion of Iraq, then used the powers of government to attack a critic of his fraud (emphase mine)."

The power Cheney and/or Bush used was the power to declassify information and to distribute secrets. That is truly a power they alone hold.

I have not read a credible source that claims there was anything to the Niger connection. The problem we have is that neither of us trusts the other's source. If it would help I would point out that, to my knowledge, neither The Economist nor the Wall Street Journal news pages have claimed any significant Niger/Saddam connection. (The WSJ Editorial pages I consider to be flaming lunacy, of course you might consider them legitimate.)

The Fitzgerald investigation may end without a judgment if it is determined that Cheney and Bush are immune to prosecution. In that event, we may both review the history books in 20 years -- if we and history are both still around.

Given the above, I think my original statement, though hastily written, holds up remarkably well to your very thorough response. Of course your opinion may vary!

In the absence of a common ruler, measurement is all but impossible.