28 October 2005


It looks everyone else is safe, at least for now, but we have indictment on five counts for Libby. From the Washington Post:
The vice president's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby Jr., was charged Friday with obstruction of justice, perjury and making false statements in the CIA leak investigation, a politically charged case that will throw a spotlight on President Bush's push to war. Libby resigned and left the White House.
This is only the first round. Investigations are ongoing. The Post explains why this matters.
Any trial would dig into the secret deliberations of Bush and his team as they built the case for war against Iraq.
There you have it. Where does the trail lead?

Consider the Clinton "scandals." It turned out that Clinton was clean when Whitewater was investigated. He did have some extramarital affairs --- and he lied under oath to hide the one with Monica Lewinsky from his family --- but tawdry as they may have been, they were all consensual, and there was no substance to allegations of sexual harassment. He didn't perjure himself to hide a crime, he did it to hide embarassment. There was nothing political, nothing about his service as President. Where does the trail lead? Nowhere.

In contrast, Watergate started from the particular incident of the break-in to the DNC headquarters, which was bad enough, because it was specifically about the election. But the important thing in understanding it is the trail from the crime to the cover-up of the incident, to Nixon's involvement in the coverup --- "what did the President know and when did he know it?" Which then leads inside of the Nixon White House, revealing Nixon's whole political "dirty tricks" operation. Nixon resigned to stop any more of that from being revealed. If you want to be a truly paranoid Nixon-hating lefty like me, you can speculate about what else might have turned up in that investigation: the bombings in Cambodia, his knowledge about the Kennedy assasination, or aliens in Area 51. I'm paranoid enough to suspect that there was something dirty that would have come to light, even if it wasn't something so melodramatic. But even without such speculative stuff, we know that Watergate definitely pointed toward Nixon's electoral dirty tricks. Where does the trail lead? Politics, serious enough to destroy his presidency.

How about the Valerie Plame story? This isn't about the conduct of an election campaign; the trail leads directly to the justification for the Iraq war. Libby blew Valerie Plame's cover to punish her husband Joseph Wilson for debunking Bush's claims about Iraq's nuclear program. So just as Watergate led to electoral dirty tricks, so too this will lead to Iraq intelligence dirty tricks. Since we now know that Iraq had no WMDs, and the administration, including the President himself, insisted that they did, dirt throughout the administration, about the most serious issue imaginable, is a certainty. Where does the trail lead? Lies used to justify the Iraq war. Serious. More serious than Watergate.

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