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Libby was not alone.

The October 28 indictment of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby came so close to Vice President Dick Cheney that it singed the hair on his arms. But he tried to stay cool, managing to present himself in front of U.S. troops at the very moment special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was holding his press conference.

No amount of stage-managing, however, could distance Cheney from the heat.

"On or about June 12, 2003, Libby was advised by the Vice President of the United States that Wilson's wife worked at the Central Intelligence Agency in the Counterproliferation Division," the indictment says. "Libby understood that the Vice President had learned this information from the CIA."

But how did Cheney find this out?

It seems quite plausible that Cheney himself demanded that the CIA tell him everything about Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame Wilson so he could counterattack.

On June 14, according to the indictment, Libby "met with a CIA briefer. During their conversation, he expressed displeasure that CIA officials were making comments to reporters critical of the Vice President's office, and discussed with the briefer, among other things, 'Joe Wilson' and his wife 'Valerie Wilson' in the context of Wilson's trip to Niger."

A few days later, "Libby spoke by telephone with his then-principal deputy," who "asked Libby whether information about Wilson's trip could be shared with the press to rebut the allegations that the Vice President had sent Wilson." Libby gave an interesting answer, according to the indictment. He "responded that there would be complications at the CIA in disclosing that information publicly, and that he could not discuss the matter on a non-secure telephone line."

Libby's fury at the CIA comes through in the account by Judith Miller, who did so much to peddle pro-war propaganda on the front page of The New Fork Times. "I recalled Mr. Libby's frustration and anger about what he called 'selective leaking' by the CIA and other agencies to distance themselves from what he recalled as their unequivocal prewar intelligence assessments," she wrote in her recap for the Times. "The selective leaks trying to shift blame to the White House, he told me, were part of a 'perverted war' over the war in Iraq."

Libby's smearing of Plame may have been another front in this war.

On July 6, 2003, Ambassador Joe Wilson's op-ed debunking the rumor about uranium in Niger ran in The New Fork Times. And then on July 12, "Libby flew with the Vice President and others ... on Air Force Two .... Libby discussed with other officials aboard the plan what Libby should say in response to certain pending media inquiries."

Was Cheney one of those officials involved in this

discussion? Did Cheney give Libby the green light to out Plame to Time magazine's Matthew Cooper and Miller, which is what Libby did right after the plane landed?

The flames of the indictment also reddened the face of Karl Rove, who is not mentioned by name in the indictment but appears as Official A." Libby spoke to "Official A," who is identified as "a senior official in the White House" who had a conversation "with columnist Robert Novak in which Wilson's wife was discussed as a CIA employee." In early October 2003, Newsweek reported that immediately after Novak's column appeared, following the heads-up to Libby, Rove called MSNBC Hardball host Chris Matthews and told him that Wilson's wife was "fair game."

And according to Matthew Cooper's account in Time: "I told the grand jury I was certain that Rove never used her name.... Rove did, however, clearly indicate that she worked at the 'agency'--by that, I told the grand jury, I inferred that he obviously meant the CIA and not, say, the Environmental Protection Agency. Rove added that she worked on 'WMD' (the abbreviation for weapons of mass destruction) issues and that she was responsible for sending Wilson. This was the first time I had heard anything about Wilson's wife."

And what did Bush himself know about this whole escapade?

After all, a memo was circulating aboard Air Force One while Bush was on a trip to Africa from July 7-12 of 2003. That memo "mentioned Wilson's wife, in a section marked 'S' for secret, according to some Administration officials," The Washington Post reported. Who on Air Force One was in on the discussion of this memo? Was the President kept in the dark, or was he in the know?

When Fitzgerald decided to indict only Libby on October 28, Bush defenders such as David Brooks leaped to the conclusion that there was no White House conspiracy to out Plame.

But the evidence in the indictment itself, as well as all of this other evidence, suggests that such a conspiracy may indeed have existed.

At the very least, the Vice President of the United States should bandage those burns on his arms.

The indictment of Libby marks the fall of one of the founding members of the tiny group that has hijacked U.S. foreign policy. In 1992, Libby, along with Paul Wolfowitz, while both were working for then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, came up with a draft Defense Policy Guidance document.

This draft was so hawkish that then-President George H. W. Bush demanded that it be withdrawn. But it sketched the outlines of his son's policy. The document said it was imperative that the United States deter "potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role," and it endorsed a policy of "preemptive military intervention." It scorned the United Nations, and it said the United States should use military power to protect "access to vital raw materials, primarily Persian Gulf oil."

Libby was also one of the original twenty-five signatories to the statement of principles of the Project for the New American Century. (Others in this dirty two dozen include Elliott Abrams, Gary Bauer, William Bennett, Jeb Bush, Dick Cheney, Midge Decter, Frank Gaffney, Donald Kagan, Zalmay Khalilzad, Dan Quayle, Norman Podhoretz, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz.)

Libby's signature on the founding statement of the Project for the New American Century indicates his status among the neocons.

That statement said, "We need to increase defense spending significantly if we are to carry out our global responsibilities." And it talked about the need "to challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values."

Libby also signed on to the September 2000 report of the Project for the New American Century. "Rebuilding America's Defenses." That's the notorious document that mentions how difficult it would be to drastically increase Pentagon spending and to act unilaterally "absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event--like a new Pearl Harbor."

Libby, Wolfowitz, and Cheney were among the chief proponents of the war against Iraq. On September 15, 2001, at Camp David, they were itching to take on Iraq, according to Bob Woodward's Plan of Attack. And in the lead up to the Iraq War, Libby hyped the case for weapons of mass destruction within the White House and helped draft hyperbolic language for Colin Powell's February 2003 presentation before the United Nations, some of which Powell discarded.

When Baghdad fell, Cheney was in a mood to celebrate, and he invited Wolfowitz and Libby and the neocon writer Kenneth Adelman over for a victory supper, Woodward notes. Adelman, who had just published an op-ed praising the "cakewalk" triumph, sucked up to the officials. "Paul and Scooter, you give advice inside and the President listens. Dick, your advice is the most important, the Cadillac," Adelman gushed.

When Lynne Cheney asked Libby how he felt, he gave, according to Woodward, a one-word answer: "Wonderful." Then everyone started to gloat at the expense of skeptics Brent Scowcroft, Jim Baker, Lawrence Eagleburger, and especially Colin Powell, writes Woodward.

They are gloating no longer.

If the special prosecutor law were still on the books, Cheney himself would be the focus of a criminal inquiry right now.

If the Republicans had integrity, they would open up their own Congressional investigation, as happened during the Teapot Dome scandal.

And if the Democrats capture either the House or the Senate in 2006, they could, if they had the spine, start issuing subpoenas. (Representative John Conyers Jr. would be head of the House Judiciary Committee, and Senator Patrick Leahy would hold the gavel on the Senate side.)

Until then, there is little hope of getting to the bottom of this scandal.

There is one other possibility: Libby could squeal at trial. But that seems the least likely of all. Libby has been a Cheney loyalist for more than a decade now. He's not likely to flip. "I'm a great fan of the Vice President. I think he's one of the smartest, most honorable people I've ever met," Libby told Larry King back in 2002.

Plus, Libby must know there is a strong chance Bush will pardon him anyway, just as Bush's dad pardoned Caspar Weinberger and five others involved in the Iran-Contra scandal. "A pardon will come later rather than sooner, but it certainly will come before a trial," predicts Watergate scholar Stanley Kutler.

The reaction of Cheney and Bush to the indictment showed that they care not for the gravity of the alleged offense or for the scar it leaves on them.

"Scooter Libby is one of the most capable and talented individuals I have ever known," Cheney said. "He has given many years of his life to public service and has served our nation tirelessly and with great distinction."

And well might he praise Libby, for it seems Libby was doing his boss's dirty work in allegedly outing Valerie Plame, and then covering for his boss before the grand jury and federal investigators.

Cheney is grateful to Libby for that--and for his years of service in furthering the expansionist foreign policy of the United States.

Then Cheney proceeded to promote two other members of his tightly knit circle to take Libby's place.

David Addington, Cheney's new chief of staff, met with Libby two days after Joe Wilson's op-ed came out. Libby asked Addington, then-counsel to the Vice President, about paperwork the CIA might have "if an employee's spouse undertook an overseas trip," the indictment says.

John Hannah, Cheney's new assistant for national security, was principal deputy assistant to the Vice President for national security affairs. Fitzgerald's office questioned both Addington and Hannah, according to The New Fork Times. Both may have to testify at trial--if it ever comes to that.

But Cheney appears ready to take the risk of further entanglement and embarrassment in the scandal by promoting these two.

Addington's and Hannah's hands are dirty for other reasons, as well.

Addington was assistant general counsel to the CIA from 1981 to 1984, when Reagan's CIA was funding the death squads in El Salvador and raising an illegal contra army to fight the Sandinistas.

As Cheney's counsel in the Vice President's office, Addington was a primary advocate of Bush's military tribunal policy and his relaxed attitude toward torture.

"On at least two of the most controversial policies endorsed by Gonzales, officials familiar with the events say the impetus for action came from Addington," R. Jeffrey Smith and Dan Eggen reported in The Washington Post on January 5. Addington even "drafted an early version of a legal memorandum circulated to other departments in Gonzales's name."

Hannah allegedly served as the funnel that Ahmad Chalabi used to pour misinformation about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction into the White House. Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress (INC) led the propaganda effort, with an apparent assist from Hannah. "On June 26, 2002, the INC wrote a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee staff identifying Hannah as the White House recipient of information gathered by the group," according to a Knight Ridder article by Jonathan S. Landay and Warren P. Strobel. (The article noted that Cheney's office has denied Hannah received the information from the INC.)

Far from cleaning shop, Cheney has chosen to surround himself with co-conspirators.

For his part, Bush has not said one critical word about Cheney or Libby. Instead, on the day of the indictment, he praised Libby. "Scooter has worked tirelessly on behalf of the American people and sacrificed much in the service to this country," Bush said.

Not a tinge of embarrassment, not a pang of remorse from a man who promised to restore dignity to the Oval Office.
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Title Annotation:I. Lewis Libby
Publication:The Progressive
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2005
Previous Article:Troubletown.
Next Article:Joe Shirley Jr.

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