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Monday, March 12, 2007

Denied justice, Plame's outing stirs Constitutional crisis

See my new article in onlinejournal.com titled "The Libby case: Cover for a fiasco."

I try to get a new article out every week, so I apologize for any gaps here on my blog. And where gaps do exist, they in no way reflect a reduction or even temporary lull in my conviction to tell the truth to the American public.

We were lied to, deceived, both by the Media and our President. That same administration has created an open-ended fiasco in Iraq, with a potentially even bigger disaster brewing in Afghanistan.

Producing 90% of the world's opium, Afghanistan has become a narco-state. As long as a weak government rules in Kabul, the drug scourge will destabilize the region. Taliban have been regrouping with their tribal cousins in North Wajiristan, so beware--it was in this same region under similar circumstances that the British fought the Battle of Maiwand.

I've said for years now that clandestine drug smuggling channels to Europe and the US could be used to transport WMD. Anything could be transported, first by foot across the Afghan mountains, then on through Central Asia and into Russia or Eastern Europe.

Unfortunately, the US has lost its best set of eyes into the proliferation of WMD: Plame's Counter-proliferation group at the CIA. My article cites David Corn's "What Plame Really Did For the CIA."

A betrayal of Valerie Plame's identity was a betrayal of the national security. And yes, Plame's NOC was secret, as her mother didn't know of what she did (link.)

The method in which Plame was outed shows the callousness and disregard for the importance of the duties Plame performed. It disregards the value of Plame's work and service to our nation. The outing is nothing less than an act of treason. Those responsible for protecting our nation turned an active covert agent into instrument of damage control. Plame was outted not by her immediate superiors but by a pack of political appointees who pimped her name to a group of press groupies eating up their sources' every word.

In perhaps the greatest failure of Media coverage, Plame's outing was not done simply to punish her husband for revealing what he didn't find in Africa. Instead, Plame's outing may have served two far more wicked purposes: intimidating the CIA into silence and stemming future attacks on intelligence used to justify the war.

As I discuss in my article, the CIA and State Department had discredited the intelligence which eventually made its way in Bush's State of the Union in late January 2003. So Plame represented an on-going threat to the Administration, if she were allowed to speak publicly. And if Plame's unit continued to gather intelligence on WMD in the Middle East, it could disprove Administration claims on Iran, a war the neo-cons are clearly seeking, with two carriers inside the Gulf.

Plame represented just a single potential source of exposure of their lies (what the MSM calls "false intelligence")--many more must have known the truth about the flimsy case for war and more specifically the intentional planting of fake intelligence. Plame's outing intimidated others in government who might consider revealing what they knew about other claims the Administration had made.

An Imbalance of Power

While Washington may have becomes fixed on status and the trappings of power, the capitol must nonetheless serve as the center of our government, whatever the political atmosphere. For our national security apparatus to function properly, it must be non-partisan if not apolitical.

Plame's outing gave the public of a preview of how executive power has become unrestrained. More recently, Attorney General Gonzales has asserted that the FBI has exceeded its authority--broken the law. Combined with the apparently partisan firing of select federal prosecutors, Bush does not appear to seek due compliance with the law from the federal government for which he is responsible.

Plame's outing testifies to the willingness of the White House to desert its responsibility to protect Plame's identity. Instead it launched a cowardly attack on a loyal Plame, who's apparent only crime has been to marry Joe Wilson, in order to flaunt its privilege and control in an exercise of raw power.

Perhaps the Libby lamb will not suffice to appease the American people, if they knew what had really happened. Plame was not Bush's servant to unmask, no Libby given over to beg for the Court's forgiveness, but rather a servant of the people, doing her job and doing it well. And she did not deserve her treatment she got, nor the fragmented form of justice she'd be served for Libby's trial.

Wilson and her husband have filed lawsuits seeking redress and additional testimony could further provoke a sleeping giant named the American public. Congress won't be as patient. The Plame case could still bring impeachment for the Vice President.

Balance of Powers

While we see a set of geopolitical, military, and image constraints imposed on the US policies outside our borders, precious little containment of the executive has been achieved through the domestic system of government, who must act in the interest of a balance of powers between the Branches.

Who is responsible for watching those in power? Can we have balanced and open government if the executive can hide from any outside oversight of its actions? Bush and Cheney have a reputation for secrecy and signing statements. Not by coincidence, secrecy hides what the White House does from the Congress and the Courts .

Congressional subpoenas might get the hesitant talking. Intelligence workers will be gagged by the White House who will claim that the national security is put at risk by public testimony, testimony which perhaps not coincidentally represents the potential release of incriminating evidence. Would-be witnesses from the intelligence community--working and retired--are also bound to privacy agreements under their terms of employment, so they can only speak out with the approval of bosses who are selected by, or under the control of, the executive. Perhaps predominantly closed door hearings are coming; but then how could the public know what the Administration did?

Bush and Cheney have in the past threatened to ignore Congressional subpoenas, as one of the benefits of their self-styled role as defenders of our nation's security--in a time of war no less. Cheney has claimed that he would ignore subpeonas on the grounds his office was operating under a higher prerogative: the national security.

In pre-trial evidentiary proceedings in the Libby trial, the security status of documents from Cheney's office threatened to block Fitzgerald's line of inquiry. Fitz apparently backed off, or a compromise was made so that the Vice President office wouldn't simply classify the documents Fitzgerald was seeking as top secret and thrust them out of the chain of evidence and out of the public domain.

Cheney's inclination to invoke Executive authority is believed to be one reason Fitzgerald didn't want to seek a broader conspiracy case against the Administration. Averting a Constitutional crisis between the Vice President and Fitzgerald on the Libby case may have set the stage for a clash of Constitutional authority between Congress and the White House.

Plame will be testifying before Congress (link.) This could bode well for those who believe the leak was far more than politics as usual. Yet if Plame comes off as an anti-Bush fanatic (someone the Right yearns to make her into), instead of the impartial victim she was, Republicans may be able to diminish the value of her testimony.

Perverting the secrecy meant to protect agents and their fragile work, the White House defends itself from accusations of an abuse of power by limiting its exposure to the truth--which in this case comes through the legal process in the form of justice. Claiming secrecy, the White House has used its control over that very same national security apparatus to escape the legal consequences of its action.

The whole point remains to be truth and the cause of justice. Was Plame's outing accidental or intentional? Justice appears underserved through Libby verdict alone. As a consequence, the truth remains unrevealed.

And what of the "intelligence failure" that has led to the expenditure of life and treasure--was it justified or unjustified, the intelligence contrived or simply erroneous? How would the American public know the difference? Does it make a difference now? The answer to the last question might be no, not on the battlefield, now that we are there. If we are to justice reign and the truth be known, then the Constitutional basis of our government continue we must push for full accountability.

Absent accountability in the courts, the administration continues to walk on the legal system and Constitutional foundation of our country. With the Plame trial we saw the impotence of the law in confronting a leak that cost an valued intelligence agent her job. In the aftermath of the Libby verdict(really only a sliver of the participating conspiracy,) jurors has complained feeling shameful that Rove, Cheney, and others weren't facing charges for their roles. In pity, one juror even called out for a pardon for the sacrificial lamb, Libby.

Fitzgerald the Falcon can hardly be pleased settling fo his shrew-sized catch while larger prey slide deeper into their burrows.

As we see Jose Padilla dragged before the court, we learn that some tapes from his "interrogation" have been lost (link). Also, Padilla seems to believe that his trial is just part of his continued interrogation. He also identifies with his captors in what some consider the "Stockholm Syndrome."

While the Italian court has acted to indict CIA agents for kidnapping an Italian iman and sending him to Egypt (link), where he was likewise "interrogated," our Courts remain incapable of confronting the War on Terror's extralegal behaviors, which will likely let the administration continue to do as it wishes regardless of compliance with domestic or international law.

And what has happened to our Congress? I was only a few months ago that hopeful talk of change in Washington prevailed--are we now to believe that this was simply spin desgined to change the color of the suits in charge? While I've seen no dropoff in opposition to Iraq in the polls, the Democrats, now comfortably mollified in the embrace of power, might see doing too little preferable to confronting Bush under the popular mandate to end the war.

While hopeful of change, I made some cynical statements in the lead-up to the election, as I wasn't sold in my belief that the American people were choosing a true alternative in the Democrats. Justin Raimondo and others at antiwar.com have called the Washington monolith a war party and they may be right. Once the money and blood start flowing, we know from experience that vested interests in times of war like the military industrial complex make turning off the funding--which is aligned suspiciously with "support for the troops"--difficult.

The lackluster leadership proves the Democrats may have used the war to get into office but now it is perhaps the war that is using them. They've inherited Bush and Cheney's monstrosity in Iraq, alongside all the obvious consequences--inadequate veteran's health care, breakdowns in equipment, and other drastic consequences to open-ended counterinsurgency warfare and forced re-deployments.

The deplorable conditions at Walter Reed show the failure of our government to support the troops once they come home. The moldy walls and rats have created an image problem attributable to the Republican leadership which has now becoming a major issue for the Democrats--if in fact they are committed to "supporting the truth."

The Democrats may have started the clean-up on Iraq, but it will be hard to accomplish meaningful change as long as Bush policies are allowed to create more carnage and destruction, both in Iraq and to our national security.

In some way Republicans have been more active in opposing the status quo. Prominent Republicans have had a little more experience breaking away from Bush and Republican national politics, at least those who've confronted Bush's policies as matter of political necessity in surviving the '06 wave that doomed war supporters.

Our capacity to defend ourselves has been curtailed, judging from Katrina and our general readiness. At what point will the Democrats say that Iraq has been allowed to go too far? And even if Iraq seems winnable--even we peaceniks would all have liked it to be winnable and thus endable--what about the consequences back here--to our veterans and capacity to recover from natural disasters which global warming will make both more frequent and intense?

If I were the Democratic leadership, I'd get the focus off of the War on Terror and back on our nation where it belongs. The national security mandate has paved the way for a takeover of our government by the executive. The other systems of our government must now act under the authority vested in the Constitution if the nation is to function as it was designed through the balance of powers.

The only way to stop the consequences of the Iraq War is to stop the Iraq War. The only way to support the troops is to not waste their lives in an unwinnable effort.

The call to support the troops is an Achilles heel in the Washington side of the peace equation. By equivocating support for the troops with support of the war, the right-wing hopes to prolong the status quo.

As the problems caused by Iraq fester, a larger and growing contradiction to the premise that Congress does in fact support the troops grows, one which the public may choose to blame the Democrats, who are now in charge and therefore responsible for the consequences of Bush's war by failing to end it, which is clearly their right through the power of the purse.

The Administration's role in supplying fabricated intelligence for making the case for war undermines the war's current and future legitimacy, not to mention the institution of the Presidency. Americans have died in service of their country--for ending the regime of a tyrant, but what since? We've only created more terrorism in Iraq.

If our purpose in Iraq is to accomplish some goal, let's hear it, "git'r'done", then get out. Striving for undefined, unreasonable, or unachievable goals like finding WMD that were never there gives our Occupation no purpose save its own continuation.

Dwelling in the hope we can still achieve victory sustains or inability to realize our failure In Iraq. The absence of effective pre-war planning doomed us to face the consequences of our Occupation unprepared. Changing policies now is unlikely to alter the end result.

Accepting that our policies in Iraq have failed to work is the crucial prerequisite for withdrawing our troops from Iraq. Dwelling on the possibility that we can change of our policy delays the inevitable realization that the US cannot overcome the insurgency and can achieve nothing positive from its ongoing occupation.


"Zeroing In on Bush-Cheney" by Robert Parry



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