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Postby thebagpenmouse » Tue Mar 06, 2007 8:19 am

Good afternoon

If d*** Cheney were anything less than vice president, you’d have to wonder if the judge in the Lewis “Scooter” Libby trial would have let him leave the country. During closing arguments, prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald made it clear that he believed Cheney’s chief of staff perjured himself to cover up his boss’s role in “outing” CIA agent Valerie Plame.

Testimony depicted Cheney as bitterly obsessed with Plame’s husband, Joe Wilson, whose New York Times article exposing the phony “intelligence” concocted to hype Iraq’s imaginary nuclear threat panicked the White House. A copy of Wilson’s op-ed with angry “talking points” scrawled in the margins by Cheney was introduced into evidence.

“There is a cloud over the vice president,” Fitzgerald told the jury. “He wrote on those columns. He had those meetings. He sent Libby off to the meeting with (New York Times reporter) Judith Miller where Plame was discussed. That cloud remains because the defendant obstructed justice. That cloud is there. That cloud is something that we just can’t pretend isn’t there.”

Big talk about “Big Time,” President Bush’s nickname for Cheney, testifying in Libby’s defense predictably came to nothing. No way could he face an aggressive prosecutor with a steel-trap mind like Fitzgerald’s. Guys like Cheney do their best work in the dark.

Everybody who’s worked in a large organization has encountered somebody like Cheney: compulsive, bureaucratic infighters adept at sucking up to power, bullying subordinates, back-stabbing and office intrigue; the kind who show up at work on Sunday to rifle rivals’ desks. If not controlled, they’re capable of subverting the organization’s ostensible goals to their private purposes.

Exactly as Cheney, unconstrained by mature leadership in the Oval Office, has subverted U.S. foreign policy to his own Machiavellian ends. Remember when they assured us of Cheney’s “gravitas,” and told us the adults were in charge?

The Plame/Wilson affair dramatizes the whole sick process in miniature: twisting intelligence to manufacture a nonexistent threat, leaking it to gullible reporters themselves preoccupied with insider status, then, as the scheme threatened to unravel, turning the same apparatus against a whistleblower and his wife for revenge.

It’s the furtiveness and obsessiveness of Cheney and Libby’s quest to smear the Wilsons that emerged most clearly. It’s the Washington disease. The town’s filled with people like them. Maybe we’d be better off rotating the nation’s capital at intervals among the 50 states. Let Pierre, S.D., take a turn, or Montpelier, Vt.

Did Cheney commit a crime by ordering Plame’s covert identity leaked, supposedly to embarrass her husband? Maybe not. The vice president’s authorized to declassify secrets. But that won’t protect him from the civil lawsuit the couple has filed.

Did Cheney obstruct justice by participating in the alleged cover-up? There were tantalizing hints prosecutors may think so. But that will have to await the jury’s verdict.

Meanwhile, America’s Crazy Uncle d*** ranged the wide world, putting the full scope of his upside-down, paranoid world-view on display. How do you suppose China liked being lectured about its unseemly military buildup? The United States currently spends more on weapons than the rest of the world, combined. China’s military budget is a tiny fraction of ours.

How about the chief architect of the Iraq disaster chastising other countries for insufficient dedication to the cause? From Australia, Cheney scolded Democrats. “What happens if we withdraw from Iraq?” he asked. “... Al Qaeda functions on the basis that they think they can break our will. That’s their fundamental underlying strategy, that if they can kill enough Americans or cause enough havoc, create enough chaos in Iraq, then we’ll quit and go home. And my statement was that if we adopt the Pelosi policy, that then we will validate the strategy of Al Qaeda.”

In reality, as James Fallows pointed out in Atlantic Monthly: “Documents captured after 9/11 showed that bin Laden hoped to provoke the United States into an invasion and occupation that would entail all the complications that have arisen in Iraq. His only error was to think that the place where Americans would get stuck would be Afghanistan.

“Bin Laden also hoped that such an entrapment would drain the United States financially. Many Al Qaeda documents refer to the importance of sapping American economic strength as a step toward reducing America’s ability to throw its weight around in the Middle East.”

Perennially anxious about proving their “toughness,” Cheney and the neocons live in a world of illusion. Now comes word via Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker that in an effort to counter the influence of Shiite Iran — itself empowered by U.S. removal of its enemies Saddam Hussein and the Taliban — the administration’s secretly arming Sunni militias friendly to Al Qaeda in Lebanon and elsewhere. The folly and incoherence of this scheme simply cannot be overstated.

John Blacks Jnr.
thebagpenmouse
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