There is a darker reality behind the mile-high wall of hype and tripe that surrounds the Scooter Libby case and the Plamegate scandal – but almost no one wants to acknowledge it, much less deal with it. Jonathan Schwarz is one of the rare exceptions, and his blistering cannonade, "I Have an Opinion," which inspi red these reflections, will be excerpted below. Here, I want to focus on one aspect of his piece, the largely neglected essence of the Libby-Wilson-Plame affair.
And what is that essence? Simply this: that the Bush Administration knowingly and deliberately destroyed decades of painstaking work aimed at halting the proliferation of mass-murdering, planet-killing nuclear weapons.
The apparent purpose behind this felonious vandalism was, we're told, to take revenge for an embarrassing newspaper article that undermined one of the Administration's many specious claims for invading Iraq. While duly acknowledging that the petty pique and callous blundering of the Bush Gang can never be underestimated, this explanation has never seemed quite sufficient to me. For one thing, Joe Wilson's article undercutting the US-UK assertion that Saddam had once sought uranium from Niger had almost no impact when it appeared in July 2003. The war of aggression was well underway by that point – indeed, "mission accomplished" had already been declared. It was also becoming increasingly clear to the public that there were no WMDs in Iraq.
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Wilson's article could have been shrugged off as just one more example of the "bad intelligence" that the Administration had been given before the war. Wilson's lone article, one of the few discordant voices in a chorus of media praise for the "War President" and his "rock star" Pentagon chief, could not -- and did not -- hamper the still-highly popular Administration in its prosecution of the war and the occupation (with the latter's historical levels of rampant corruption already beginning to flow in vast streams to Bush's corporate cronies and their Iraqi collaborators). Wilson's piece could only have been a very minor and temporary irritation – especially for an Administration that had seen off scandal after scandal without the slightest embarrassment – and without the slightest follow-up from the docile, fawning mainstream media. Why strain at Wilson's gnat when the nation had already swallowed the camel of a major war crime?
Now, it could well be that the hubris of these arrogant, ignorant, malevolent bloodsuckers led them to take a hammer to this pesky gnat instead of flicking it lightly away: "By God, let's just destroy this son-of-a-bitch Wilson and show people they can't fuck with big tough hombres like us." One can easily imagine the porcine sissy Karl Rove pressing his gut against the Leader's side and mouthing the kind of pseudo-macho trash talk that turns Bush on. Or else see Dick Cheney settling his diseased husk into a fat chair in the Oval Office – where he had waged ideological and bureaucratic combat for so many years – and with sne ering gusto urge the little spoon-fed idiot now sitting in Nixon's chair to authorize a backroom campaign to bury Wilson…and also protect the "stove-pipe" operation of cooked intelligence data that Cheney had set up to sell the war. Maybe they actually were so stupid that they couldn't see that such a move would only increase the prominence and longevity of Wilson's charges, and cause unnecessary conflict with the CIA, already angry at having been made the patsy for the so-called "intelligence failures" over Saddam's non-existent arsenal and his non-existent ties with al Qaeda.
So yes, maybe they were that arrogant and stupid, and that's what led to years of bad press, a special prosecutor set loose among their inner circle, the loss of one of their top operatives (Libby), and the roll-up of a major CIA undercover network devoted to one of the Bush Administration's proclaimed imperatives: preventing nuclear weapons from falling into the hands of the nation's enemies. Yet this seems to be a great deal to put at hazard for the sake of partisan revenge against a minor irritant. You would think that the risk of compromising an undercover anti-proliferation unit would have been enough in itself to dissuade them from a full-scale attack on Wilson and his family.
What's more, the whole angle of "Wilson's CIA wife sent him on a junket" has never made much sense to me either. Aside from the fact that a trip to look at uranium mines and government files in Niger would hardly be considered a "junket," even if this specious charge had been true, why would it have been considered such a damning blow against Wilson? He had the credentials for such an investigation; the fact that his wife recommended him for the mission (or, in the Bushist version, directly engineered his appointment) would hardly destroy his credibility in a town where such family connections are the rule, not the exception. (Perhaps we could ask the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Liz Cheney, or her husband, Phil Perry, the former General Counsel for the Department of Homeland Security, to explain how this kind of thing works.) If the only object was to create some bogus measure of doubt about Wilson's credibility, surely making known the fact that he was a Democrat would have served the Bush Gang's propaganda purpose just as well among that miniscule portion of the population who would have even heard of Wilson's findings about this obscure side issue.
(And let's not forget that it was a side issue; the Niger claims were hardly central to the Administration's case for war. We already had Cheney declaring on national television that Saddam had "reconstituted nuclear weapons" – he had them, he was going to use them against us, we might see a mushroom cloud rising over the Homeland at any minute. In such a welter of feverish fearmongering, the assertion that the Administration might also have some evidence that Saddam had sought uranium years ago in Niger would only be gilding the lily. When the boogey-man is coming after us with his great big club, who cares which tree he took the wood from?)
No, there always seemed to be something else going on behind the legal arcana and political maneuvering that took up all the media oxygen around the case. And in fact, there is now a growing body of evidence that indicates that the destruction of Valerie Plame's counterproliferation operation – the long-time, multimillion-dollar front company, Brewster-Jennings – might have been the primary aim of the enterprise all along. Some of the outlines of this darker purpose can be gleaned from the findings and testimony of Sibel Edmonds – the courageous whistleblower whose credibility has been affirmed by both Republican and Democratic officials and the Justice Department's Inspector General, but who has been placed under one of the most extraordinary gag orders in U.S. history by the Bush Administration. Edmonds points us (as far as she is able to do without winding up in prison, or perhaps the Gitmo guest house) toward that crossroads in the shadowlands where arms trading, drug dealing, terrorist financing and the traffic in illicit nuclear technologies all meet, under the protection of powerful entities in many governments. (For more, see Luke Ryland here, and Edmonds herself here.)
Before she was fired by the FBI for blowing the whistle on a spy ring serving the interests of the Turkish military and the American arms peddlers and rightwing political "consultants" (such as Douglas Feith, Richard Perle and other architects and factotums of Bush's military aggression) who fish so profitably in Ankara's murky waters, Edmonds, a Turkish-born, multi-lingual translator, was given a raft of documents and transcripts going back several years, some of them involving the activities of Brewster-Jennings. Edmonds says Brewster-Jennings had been investigating this Turkish-Bushist network, especially in connection with the magic workshop of A.Q. Khan, the Pakistani operator who has been the world's prime exporter of under-the-table nuclear technology. Khan is considered a hero in his homeland for developing Pakistan's nuclear arsenal (illegally, of course, although with the knowing, bipartisan collusion of several American administrations). Despite the "uncovering" of his "secret" network a few years ago, Khan is now enjoying a gentle and prosperous "house arrest" in one of his mansions, where he has been allowed to keep his ill-gotten gains from sending nukestuff to the highest bidders around the world. Most curiously, he has also been kept free from any questioning by American investigators trying to unravel the full extent of the Pakistani proliferation ring.
Edmonds has repeatedly indicated that this shadowland nexus involves figures at the highest reaches of the United States government. If Brewster-Jennings and Valerie Plame were coming anywhere near this dangerous crossroads, it is little wonder that the operation was summarily liquidated in the summer of 2003, when the Bush White House – and Karl Rove specifically – deliberately outed Plame to rightwing hack Robert Novak, who dutifully publicized her status as a CIA agent. At that moment, all of the Brewster-Jennings anti-WMD operations were dead in the water; and everyone associated with the front company – even unwittingly – was put at deadly risk in countries around the world.
Until Edmonds is allowed to speak freely – and her credible allegations investigated fully, along with any other leads that shine light into the shadowlands – we will never know the whole truth, or even the partial truth, of the real machinations behind Plamegate and the Libby case. But as the man from Elsinore once said, there is something in this more than natural, if philosophy could find it out.
Meanwhile, as we noted, Jon Schwarz is back and loaded for bear after an enforce hiatus due to technical glitches. With his customary slashing wit, he goes straight to the heart of the Libby case: the complete and utter contempt of the American Establishment for all the suckers out there who sustain the elite in their well-wadded privilege. This is not exactly news, of course – and few have exposed this upper-crust contempt with more diligence than Schwarz – but, as he rightly notes, the brutal cynicism operating in the Plamegate case is indeed shocking, even for the most hardened cynic. After the jump, we present a few excerpts from his inspiring piece, which should of course be read in full.
…I'm not surprised the Bush administration did what they did. I'm not surprised they tried to cover it up when caught. But I am surprised other American institutions—including the broader Republican party—hasn't focused on the large issue, and forced Bush at least to pretend he was sorry and fire some people.
I mean, you have an administration that's built their case for a giant war on terrorists and terrifying weapons of mass destruction. We live in a world where, whatever the Bush administration's lies and exaggeration, this is a real problem. And then they blow the cover of someone who's secretly worked for decades on WMD issues.
If you'd written a script like this, no one would believe it. It would seem like agitprop. And yet it happened. A woman works at some real risk for decades with no recognition at government pay rates for what she believes is the best interest of her country. An administration screams for years about how much they LUV AMERICA so much they'll do ANYTHING TO PROTECT US. But when this woman becomes inconvenient, they squash her like a bug.
Likewise, when maimed soldiers come back from war, they're discarded like used tissues, even as Bush speaks constantly about how he LUVS THE TROOPS. Likewise, as New Yorkers wandered about in a haze of grief in mid-September, 2001, the Bush administration lied about the safety of breathing the air in lower Manhattan, even as Bush went on to give 20,000 speeches about THE HORRIBLE TRAUMA OF 9/11.
But all this apparently this makes no never mind to the Republican party, or the Washington Post editorial page. They have just as much contempt for us as the Bush administration itself. Indeed, their contempt may be deepest for those who actually believe all their lies about how we're all in this together and act on this belief. Suckers!
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