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Friday, October 28, 2005

oy veys mere 

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130 years since anyone in white indicted

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New Book About Rove

As if he didn’t have enough to worry about, Karl Rove’s legacy may be in for yet another blow. With indictments in the Valerie Plame case expected imminently, Jim Moore and Wayne Slater who co-authored the 2003 blockbuster exposé, Bush’s Brain, are releasing an updated paperback version of their book this week with a new title: Rove Exposed: How Bush’s Brain Fooled America. If Rove lands in the big house, it’s safe to say it won’t be on his reading list.

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Plame Flames Up Ladder


So history suggests that whatever Fitzgerald’s investigation concludes about Libby, Rove and the leaking of Valerie Plame’s identity, there will be strong resistance from official Washington if the prosecutor tries to track the criminality up the chain of command.

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Tip of the Iceberg


Last night I went on Hannity and Colmes to talk about my recent call to expand the Fitzgerald investigation to look at a possible White House conspiracy to deceive Congress. Mr. Hannity wanted to make a big joke out of my contention that the CIA leak issue is "only the tip of the iceberg." But I'm quite serious.

Many around Washington are expecting indictments to be handed down tomorrow on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. Those are serious crimes; make no mistake. But I think the real question before America is this: were the actions in question part of a larger, deliberate, effort to quash dissent and march the country into war? That's why I've called for the Special Counsel's investigation to be expanded.

Specifically, I've asked that Mr. Fitzgerald seek answers to three pressing questions: whether the CIA leak incident was part of a larger, deliberate effort to deceive Congress into authorizing war in Iraq, who exactly was involved, and whether any of their actions were criminal. If a larger, intentional effort was indeed underway - as evidence is tending to show that it was - that amounts to a criminal conspiracy.

It'll be interesting to see what happens with Fitzgerald's announcement tomorrow - certainly, the Washington landscape will change radically if Rove and others are forced to step down. But indictments or not, the findings of this grand jury have primarily shown us one thing: that we need to know more about the actions of this White House in the run-up to the war in Iraq.

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Novakula in trouble


Wilson called Novak after the column appeared and, among other things, asked him why he'd cited "two administration officials" and not his CIA source when he unmasked Plame. Novak said, "I misspoke the first time we talked."

So, did Novak have a CIA source about Plame, as he stated on Meet the Press in October 2003 and to the stranger he talked to on the street in July 2003 and to Wilson in their first conversation in July? Or did he not, as he said to Wilson in July after the column appeared?

One last peculiarity for Novak to explain: He opposed the Iraq war, as did Wilson. One would think that Novak would sympathize with the ambassador on matters of foreign policy rather than describe him as an "asshole" to a stranger even before the outing column appeared in print.


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Bush Pioneer Indicted


A federal grand jury has indicted Tom Noe, the former Toledo-area coin dealer at the center of a state investment scandal, of illegally laundering money into President Bush’s re-election campaign.

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White House Imploding


NEW YORKAs the anticipation over possible indictments in the Valerie Plame case reaches excruciating levels, Watergate legend Carl Bernstein warns that comparisons to the case that made him famous more than 30 years ago must be viewed carefully.

Still, the former Washington Post reporter who shared a Pulitzer Prize for helping to expose the Nixon administration's wrongdoing says some parallels can be drawn between the two investigations, particularly the way both helped uncover extended dishonesty in the White House.

"We are obviously watching and the press is beginning to document the implosion of a presidency," Bernstein said Thursday, just hours before the Plame grand jury is set to expire. "How destructive that implosion is going to be, ultimately, we don't know yet.

"But what the Plame leak investigation has unveiled is what the press should have been focusing on long before and without let up--how we went to war, the dishonesty involved in that process in terms of what the president and vice-president told the American people and the Congress, and the routine smearing by members of the Bush administration of people who questioned their actions and motives."


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Americans Tired Of Iraq---No Link

Oct. 31, 2005 issue - The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a tapering wall of black granite cut into the grass of Constitution Gardens. Maya Lin envisioned a scar when she designed it, a scar on this land, which is exactly right. Maybe someday his security detail could drive George W. Bush over to take a look. He'll be able to see himself in the reflective surface.

The list of names etched into the wall begins with a soldier who died in 1959 and ends with one who died in 1975. Nearly 60,000 dead are commemorated here. It is the most personal of war memorials. You can touch the cold names with your warm fingers.

The president never wanted the war in Iraq to be personal. His people forbade photographs of coffins arriving home. They refused to keep track of how many Iraqis had been killed and wounded. When "Nightline" devoted a show to the faces of soldiers who had died, one conservative broadcast outlet even pulled the program from its lineup.

The president wanted this to be about policy, not about people. Even that did not go well. The policy became a moving target. First there were weapons of mass destruction that were not there and direct links to the terrorists who attacked on September 11 that didn't exist. The removal of Saddam Hussein was given as the greatest good; it has been done. Then it became the amorphous goal of bringing freedom to the Iraqi people, as though liberty were flowers and we were FTD. The elections, the constitution, the rubble, the dead. Once again we were destroying the village in order to save it.

This all took an unfortunate turn for the administration during the president's vacation in August, when Cindy Sheehan showed up at his ranch. Say what you would about her politics or tactics, there was no doubt that she was a mother whose soldier son was now dead, and who wanted to know why. What was the cause, the point, the strategy? And suddenly many Americans started to realize that there was no good answer.

The Vietnam Memorial stands, in part, as a monument to blind incrementalism, to men who refused to stop, not because of wisdom but because of ego, because of the fear of looking weak. Not enough troops, not enough planning, no real understanding of the people or the power of the insurgency, dwindling public support. The war in Iraq is a disaster in the image and likeness of its predecessor.

During each election cycle, we ponder the question of whether character matters. Of course it does. Does anyone doubt that the continued prosecution of this war has to do with the personality of the commander in chief, a man who is stubborn and calls it strength, who wears blinders and calls it vision? When he vowed to invade Iraq, the advisers he heeded were those who, like him, had never seen combat. The one who had was marginalized and is now gone. The investigation of who leaked what to whom, of what the reporter knew and how she knew it, may be about national security and journalistic ethics, but at its base it is about something more important: the Nixonian lengths to which these people will go to shore up a bankrupt policy and destroy those who cross them on it.

The most unattractive trait of the American empire is American arrogance, which the president embodies and which this war elevated. It is not simply that we have a good system. It is the system everyone else should have. It is the best system, and we are the best people. We can mend rivalries so ancient that they not only predate our nation but the birth of Christ. We will install the leaders we like in a country we scarcely understand, leaders who will either be seen as puppets by their people or who will eventually turn against us. We have been here before.

"In Vietnam we didn't have the lessons of Vietnam to guide us," says David Halberstam, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of that war. "In Iraq we did have those lessons. The tragedy is that we didn't pay attention to them." Or maybe only our leaders did not. The polls show the American people have turned on this war much more quickly than they did on the war in Vietnam. Of course, they are the ones who pay the price.

Perhaps the leaders of the Democratic Party should take time off from their fund-raisers and visit the Vietnam Memorial, too. They should remember one of the most powerful men the party ever produced, Lyndon B. Johnson, and how he was destroyed by opposition to the war in Vietnam and bested by those brave enough to speak against it.

At least Johnson had the good sense to be heartbroken by the body bags. Bush appears merely peevish at being criticized. Someone with a trumpet should play taps outside the White House for the edification of a president who has not attended a single funeral for the Iraqi war dead. As I am writing this, the number of American soldiers killed is 1, 992. By the time you read it, it may have topped 2,000. Will I be writing these same things when the number is 3,000, 5,000, 10,000? If we are such a great nation, why are we utterly incapable of learning from our mistakes? America's sons and daughters are dying to protect the egos of those whose own children are safe at home. Again.

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Shooting ourselves in the foot


HADITHA, Iraq - The Marines call it a necessary evil — taking over houses and buildings for military use. For the Iraqis who become unwilling hosts, it can be anything from a mild inconvenience to a disruption that tears apart lives.

In a recent offensive in Haditha, the headmaster of one school where Marines were based pressed them for a departure date so he could resume classes. At another school, Marines fortified the building with blast walls and sandbags for long-term use.

A trembling woman wept when Marines tried to requisition her home to set up an observation post with a view of a nearby road where a bomb had been planted. The Marines quickly left, using her neighbor's rooftop instead.

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Bush in meltdown



The Republican conservatives, still resentful at having swallowed Roberts, want an ultra whose implacable enmity to abortion is etched in stone.

This could mean J. Michael Luttig or J. Harvey Wilkinson who both serve on the Fourth Circuit. Or Edith Jones, from the Fifth.

But the dilemma for all Republicans in touch with political reality is that the country as a whole does not want to see Roe v Wade overturned. The voters would exact terrible vengeance on the political party perceived as being responsible for ending choice in America.

A candidate "soft on choice" might be Alberto Gonzales, Miers' predecessor in the White House and now Attorney General.

But then Bush would reignite conservative fury at a moment of extreme political weakness and also incur the charge of cronyism. Part of the Miers disaster was a failure to appreciate in the wake of Hurricane Katrina that cronyism was in disrepute.

Bush, after five years, is now at the point Clinton reached in the early summer of his first year in office: a total collapse in political credibility. Clinton reached out to a Republican fixer, David Gergen, and to Jesse Helms' campaign strategist, Dickie Morris, plus the most squalid denizens of his own party.

Who can Bush turn to?

The first lifeline would be a dishonorable mention of Dick Cheney in the grand jury's indictment, prompting the all-powerful vice president to resign.

The path would then be clear for a return of the old guard, with James Baker the man who fixed Florida for Bush in 2001, as the Renovator. The corporate sponsorship of the White House would shift from Halliburton to the Carlyle Group.

It would be the Revenge of Bush 1, already heralded by the recent onslaughts on Cheney's neocons by Brent Scowcroft and Powell's number two, Lawrence Wilkerson. It's a theme worthy of the great classical tragedians.


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