WASHINGTON, D.C.—Politicians across the political spectrum are
hoping against hope that President Bush can take control
of the nation and jumpstart a second term, kicking
out chief adviser Karl Rove–who remains at risk in the Plame Affair–and changing policy in Iraq, where U.S. soldiers continue to die.
But as everyone in Washington knows, Rove isn’t the real problem here. The real problem for Bush is Vice President Dick Cheney—it’s Cheney’s now former chief of staff, Scooter Libby, who has been indicted in the Plame Affair, and it’s his pushing that has the administration taking a hard line on the handling of detainees. And the best way, perhaps the only way, for Bush to take charge of the country is to dump the vice president, forcing him into retirement before he can be charged by Plame Affair prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald with violating the espionage laws.
These last few days, while Bush wandered around South America from one
fruitless meeting to another and fended off charges of
prisoner abuse in Iraq with bland statements such as
“We do not torture,” Cheney was busily working away behind the scenes
seeking to persuade Congress not to impose
restrictions on the CIA torture interrogators. The
Washington Post revealed last week the CIA was running
interrogations in secret jails for suspected terrorists in eastern
Cheney, even more than Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, is the man behind the Iraq war. Fitzgerald’s indictment of
Libby bluntly states that Cheney’s top aide
learned Valerie Plame, the covert CIA agent, was administration critic Joe
Wilson’s wife from Cheney. Given that, how can Cheney avoid testifying in
a Libby trial? He does not have the immunity of a president.
“Libby is the firewall protecting Vice President
Cheney,” writes John Dean in his FindLaw column:
Libby indictment asserts that “[o]n or about June 12,
2003 Libby was advised by the Vice President of the
United States that Wilson’s wife worked at the Central
Intelligence Agency in the Counterproliferation
Division. Libby understood that the Vice President had
learned this information from the CIA.”
In short, Cheney provided the classified information to Libby – who then told the press. Anyone who works in national security matters knows that the Counterproliferation Division is part of the Directorate of Operations — the covert side of the CIA, where most everything and everyone are classified.
If Fitzgerald were successful in flipping Libby–and
that seems pretty clearly to be his intention–then
Cheney himself would face charges of violating the
The outcome? Libby will probably hold fast through
the 2006 election, his lawyers dragging out the case
by interviewing reporters, etc, and then Libby, if convicted, can
expect a pardon. As for Cheney, he could save face,
resigning for health reasons–that suspect ticker of his coming to the rescue.
Meanwhile, its business as usual, Bush drifting
from day to day with the currents. Yesterday just as
Bush uttered his denial of torture, the army charged five
Rangers with abusing prisoners in Iraq. This morning,
Italian state TV aired a documentary describing how
the U.S. used white phosphorous bombs against civilians
in Falluja. The U.S. admits using the weapons to
illuminate battlefields. We are not signatories to a
treaty banning the use of white phosphorous weapons.
The film is being broadcast on the first anniversary
of the U.S. attack on Falluja, which destroyed much of
the city and displaced its population of 300,000.
Tomorrow, Ahmed Chalabi, a deputy prime minister of Iraq, the man who fed the gullible American press wrong
information on Saddam’s possession of weapons of mass
destruction, is visiting Washington to address neocon
headquarters at the American Enterprise Institute. Chalabi also is to meet with Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice. A thoroughly disgraced liar, the conduit of so much
of the phony information that led us to war, a man
with no political base outside the conniving neocon
circles, Chalabi is now seriously discussed in
Washington as a possible American-backed compromise
candidate for Iraqi prime minister because he might appeal of the
Shiite southern part of the country. As it stands, he is
now in control of the oil industry, and in the minds of U.S. policymakers, that counts for a lot.