Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Digby thinks we're losing the spin war on the Libby trial:
I have to say that I think the conservatives are winning the spin war on this. By the time they are done, everyone in the country is going to believe that poor little Scooter was railroaded and that it's perfectly normal for a president to immediately pardon his aides when they are found guilty in a court of law. Hell, he can hire him back!

Republican administrations always break the law and when they are caught they always pardon their own. I guess we've just become so used to it now that people don't even find it shocking anymore.

If this happens, from this day forward, Republican administrations know they have no obligation to uphold the law while in office, ever. Why should they?
And with the Washington Post editorializing as we've come to expect them to, it's easy to understand why:
The fall of this skilled and long-respected public servant is particularly sobering because it arose from a Washington scandal remarkable for its lack of substance. It was propelled not by actual wrongdoing but by inflated and frequently false claims, and by the aggressive and occasionally reckless response of senior Bush administration officials -- culminating in Mr. Libby's perjury.
McJoan, at Daily Kos, offered further analysis on the Post's now-standard hypocrisy.

And the New York Post, as expected, is already calling for a pardon:
President Bush should make things right - by pardoning Libby.

Sure, he'd take a lot of political heat for it. But Libby was in the dock because of politics - and turnabout is fair play.

Free Scooter Libby.
Typical noble cause for the Post to be championing. Rhetorical question: are there any good newspapers that call themselves the "Post?"

Bloomberg's Edwin Chen and James Rowley get a little closer to the truth:
Lewis Libby's conviction on charges he lied about White House efforts to discredit Iraq war critics shatters George W. Bush's 2000 campaign vow to ``uphold the honor and the integrity'' of the presidency and intensifies his second-term political woes.
They quote David Gergen and Washington attorney Robert Plotkin, both of whom seem to think this both politically and legally more serious than some might suspect.

As Chen and Rowley point out:
In his 2000 campaign appearances in Georgia, Colorado, and Michigan, Bush pledged to ``uphold the honor and the integrity of the office to which I have been elected, so help me God.'' That promise followed the 1998 impeachment by the U.S. House of Representatives of Clinton after revelations that he had an affair with a White House intern.
Former Clinton lawyer, Lanny Davis gets even closer, as quoted by the AP:
(I)t was Vice President Cheney who was on trial today and who has the responsibility for what Libby did. The vice president has a personal and moral responsibility to take responsibility for what Mr. Libby did at his instruction — and to apologize to Valerie Plame.
And the same article quotes Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who seems to agree:
Lewis Libby has been convicted of perjury, but his trial revealed deeper truths about Vice President Cheney's role in this sordid affair. Now President Bush must pledge not to pardon Libby for his criminal conduct.
But the San Francisco Chronicle editorial gets to the real point:
LEWIS LIBBY, former vice presidential chief of staff, is now a felon, convicted on four counts of lying to the FBI and obstructing an investigation of his role in outing a CIA operative. More generally, the verdict is a sweeping indictment of the Bush team and its underhanded efforts to silence critics of the war.

The outcome, however, falls short of doling out justice to others at the exalted level of Libby. Yes, the outcome was a stinging rebuke to the White House, where insiders were shown to scheme and backstab in spinning the media their way. With only Libby convicted, however, the results are anything but a final chapter in a tangled and revealing drama.
The Chronicle specifially mentions those who have, thus far, gotten away with their complicity: Karl Rove, Richard Armitage, and, Cheney. They also make the damning point that ten of the nineteen witnesses were reporters- a clear indication of the extent to which supposedly serious news providers have been compromised by proximity and sycophancy.

As BentLiberal diaried at Daily Kos, the AP quoted even one of the Libby jurors as wishing the jury had heard from bigger names:
(Denis) Collins, a former Washington Post reporter, said jurors wanted to hear from others involved in the case, including Bush political adviser Karl Rove, who was one of two sources for the original leak. Defense attorneys originally said both Libby and Cheney would be witnesses and Rove was on the potential witness list.
And the Huffington Post now has an exclusive report from that juror.

And, it goes without saying, that, apart from the legal implications, the Administration is being let completely off the hook for its own hypocrisy and lies about morals and ethics. Remember this quote quote, from September, 2003?:
MR. McCLELLAN: -- that suggests White House involvement. There are anonymous reports all the time in the media. The President has set high standards, the highest of standards for people in his administration. He's made it very clear to people in his administration that he expects them to adhere to the highest standards of conduct. If anyone in this administration was involved in it, they would no longer be in this administration.

Being professional reporters at the top of their food chain, they shouldn't need my help, but here's a suggestion to the White House Press Corps: ask Tony Snow about that McClellan statement. It might be pertinent.

But even that isn't the real point. That S.F. Chronicle editorial got it:
That result is unsatisfying, a quest for answers that only went half way. Still, the trial broadcast an important message: The administration stopped at nothing to prop up its skimpy justifications for the Iraq war.
The American Prospect's Mike Tomasky points out that:
Ending the war, like it or not, will have to wait. Congress can't end a war that a president is intent on waging, and, obviously, the Democrats are at loggerheads on the matter anyway. The more interesting question remains how the war started, and Democrats would be making an appalling mistake if they let bygones be bygones here.

Whenever I hear a Democrat in Congress say something like, "We're not interested in the past; we're focused on the future," I shoot the nearest television. What this usually means is: "Our pollsters tell us that voters don't remember what happened last week, let alone three or four years ago, and that we just open ourselves up to attack for 'dwelling in the past.'"
And he excoriates the Democrats for their habit of playing that losing political game of placating and refusing to help mold public opinion. He reminds us that Phase II of the Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation on pre-war intel- the phase that was supposed to focus on the politicization of that intel- was blocked by the Republicans, but has yet to be inititiated by new Committee Chairman Senator Jay Rockefeller. Tomasky believes that an agressive investigation will reveal the Administration's deliberate manipulations of intel. He emphasizes that pursuing this investigation is not about politics, it is about responsible governance! He says Vice President Cheney must be subpoenaed. He hopefully points to statements by Sen. Chuck Schumer suggesting the Democrats may finally be ready to attend to this critically important work. And, almost as an aside, he suggests, once again, the real reason this needs be done:
And by the way, if ending the war is your chief interest, revelations of the sort I'm talking about will help that along, too.
Yeah. That.

From the AP:
A suicide attacker blew himself up in a cafe northeast of the capital Wednesday, killing 30 people as a wave of violence left 90 Iraqis dead throughout the country.

The bloodshed persisted as Iraqi security forces struggled to protect more than 1 million Shiite pilgrims streaming toward the holy city of Karbala for annual religious rituals that begin Friday. The pilgrims are facing a string of attacks along the way that have claimed at least 174 lives in two days — among 284 killed across Iraq since Tuesday....

Just north of the capital, a powerful bomb killed three American soldiers trying to clear explosives from a major highway, the U.S. military said. One American soldier was wounded in the attack.
As Robert Parry concludes:
Because of the administration’s bandying about of Plame’s covert identity in 2003, the CIA’s capability to track and expose nuclear proliferation networks was weakened. That has left the U.S. government partially blinded on other WMD questions, such as Iran’s progress toward a nuclear bomb.

Viewing that national security damage in the additional context of nearly four years of unrelenting bloodshed in Iraq, the even larger question being asked by many Americans remains: Why aren’t Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Richard Armitage and possibly George W. Bush in the dock alongside Libby?
First and foremost, this is about the war- how we got in, and how we can get out!

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