Both Parties AWOL

by , February 14, 2004

The limitless capacity of both major parties to distract us from what’s really important may be their true and only function. That thesis, at any rate, is certainly on display this election season. The Democrats are now howling that President Bush has no right to call himself a “war president” because he supposedly evaded actually showing up for National Guard duty back in the early 1970s. Coming from the other side of the partisan divide is the latest sex scandal bombshell to somehow mysteriously fall into Matt Drudge’s lap: the news that Democratic presidential frontrunner John Kerry may have had an affair with an intern who used to work for Associated Press has all the earmarks of yet another Republican slather-fest.

And the presidential election season has hardly begun! Apparently, we are to be spared nothing, this time around. But what I don’t get is how they expect us to endure this endless blather – while the death toll in Iraq keeps rising, along with the horrendous cost in treasure as well as troops.

Who cares if George W. Bush managed to evade the worst possible consequences of being drafted during the Vietnam era, i.e. getting shipped to that jungle hell? Since most of the President’s critics are of the opinion that the Vietnam war was immoral and not in our interests anyway – and rightly so – why-oh-why are they making such a big fuss about this? The answer, of course, is pure partisanship.

As for Kerry’s alleged carrying on – gee, aren’t heterosexuals allowed to have any fun? No wonder their numbers, and influence, seem to be diminishing!

I expect this kind of thing from Republicans. After all, that’s what the neocons specialize in: digging up dirt with which to smear their opponents. Smear and fear – that’s the methodology of the neoconized GOP, in toto.

On the other hand, the Democrats and their liberal-left amen corner are supposed to be more thoughtful types. They are the ones who are so angry about Bushian policies, particularly when it comes to the Iraq war and the assault on our civil liberties – so where do they get off criticizing the President because he wasn’t enthusiastic about being drafted and sent off to fight an immoral and utterly disastrous conflict that should never have been fought in the first place?

Oh sure, he’s a hypocrite, and a liar, and whatever – but, again, so what? Does the President have to qualify for sainthood? If so, then Kerry’s apparently knocked out of the running, too.

It’s a shame that the public may be distracted away from the real scandals currently unfolding in Washington. Two grand juries are now hearing evidence in parallel investigations that implicate high-ranking administration officials in a conspiracy that involves not only the exposure of an undercover CIA officer but also possible espionage.

Some people, however, are definitely not distracted by all this partisan palaver, and chief among them are those now being hauled up before a Washington, D.C. grand jury, and others who live in fear that they will be called to testify. The New York Times headlined: “Anxiety Takes Hold of Presidential Aides Caught Up in Leak Inquiry,” to which one can only add: it’s about time!

These pots have been simmering on the backburner since last summer, when Bob Novak, relying on information passed to him by top White House officials, “outed” Valerie Plame, a CIA agent working undercover on nonproliferation issues. The leakers’ goal was to discredit her husband, former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, a prominent critic of the Iraq war. Instead, these officials will be the ones who wind up discredited, having ensnared themselves in a legal net from which there is little hope of extrication. The penalty for exposing the identity of a CIA officer working undercover is 10 years in jail and a $50,000 fine. But at least some of them could be looking at a lot more than a paltry 10 years….

The really volatile charge possibly arising out of these two parallel investigations goes to the very heart of the President’s war policy and involves the forgery of a document that purported to show Saddam’s efforts to procure uranium from the African nation of Niger. This rationale for targeting Iraq was raised, you’ll remember, in the infamous “16 words” of Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address. But when the “evidence” for Bush’s statement was finally examined – by the CIA as well as the International Atomic Energy Agency – it was found to be completely and embarrassingly bogus: crude forgeries that could have been debunked in five minutes by anyone with access to the internet and a passing acquaintance with Google. The Bushies, for their part, now lamely point to the Brits, claiming they got it from them: Tony Blair, for his part, still stubbornly insists that every word of his Iraq “dossier” is true, including the African uranium gambit.

Who forged those documents – and how did they get into our stream of intelligence, and on up to the White House, passing untouched and unchallenged through the President’s army of speechwriters, fact-checkers, and advisors?

The Republic can survive the hole in George W. Bush’s military resume, and Kerry’s carnality is a threat only to himself: it cannot, however, long endure in these dangerous times as long as our intelligence capability is being subverted from within. The gang that lied us into war – and even put words in the mouth of the President which they knew to be false – is now being called to account. But they aren’t going to go down passively: they are fighting every inch of the way, and they mean to take a few of their enemies down with them.

The Times reports that some of those White House officials being questioned have defied the President and refused to sign waivers releasing reporters from a pledge of confidentiality: they are also refusing to agree not to discuss their encounters with law enforcement. The battle lines are being drawn rather quickly, and it isn’t so much a partisan issue as a conflict that increasingly pits the President and his interests against the neoconservative faction in his administration.

Howard Fineman, like myself, is “waiting for the heads to roll.” Think of Madame DeFarge calmly knitting while the guillotine is readied for its next victims. MSNBC’s political correspondent writes:

“I keep waiting for the bloodletting to begin, the ritual slaughter of careers that comes with controversy in the capital. George W. Bush is a loyal man – and loyalty is a good thing – but I don’t see how he can survive the searing politics of Iraq (if, indeed, survival is possible at all) without the dramatic departure of some people, maybe even Vice President Dick Cheney.”

Speaking of Cheney, and MSNBC, the other day a New York Daily News intern was surfing the Internet for newsworthy items and came upon the following interesting little tidbit on MSNBC’s website:

“Cheney dead at age 62

“Dick Cheney, the stalwart conservative and unflappable Washington insider picked by George W. Bush to be his vice president, died DAY TK in PLACE TK.” (‘TK’ is journalistic shorthand for ‘to come.’)

My source told me: ‘This obit … was uploaded May 23, 2003 … When I clicked on the headline [and summary], it said ‘article not found.’ Still, kind of a dopey thing to have your obit file anywhere near the live Web site.’”

Talk about a preemptive strike!

An adviser to Cheney, the Daily News writer avers, “declined my invitation to make light of MSNBC.com’s boo-boo: ‘You’re asking me to say something witty and memorable about a false obituary? Okay then, I have three words for you: Wouldn’t be prudent.’” Especially since, in a political sense, it may be about to become true.

Forget the tedious details of Bush’s National Guard service thirty years ago: How long can he claim to be a “war president” in the mold of Franklin Roosevelt when White House officials – very possibly including his Vice President’s chief of staff – are charged with undermining U.S. national security?

Top leaders of the neoconservative clique that dragged us into the Middle Eastern quagmire are about to find themselves in the dock, on trial for what arguably amounts to treason. With the casualty count in this war, both Iraqi and American, rising exponentially, their criminal campaign of deception certainly amounts to murder.

The American justice system routinely hands out death sentences to retarded killers – as long as they’re black, or poor, preferably both – about whom it is impossible to know whether they even vaguely apprehended the moral import of their acts. So what will they do to fully conscious and self-aware mass murderers, whose lies led us into a war that continues to kill?

Let there be no mistake about who or what is on trial here. Julian Borger, in the Guardian, reports that members of that neocon redoubt, the Defense Policy Board, are also targets of the ongoing investigation. If it turns out that Richard Perle, former head of that quasi-official Pentagon body, is now in federal prosecutors’ sights, remember, you read it here first (scroll down). Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the Vice President’s chief of staff, is reportedly a central figure in all this: and, if you’ll recall, you read that here first, too.

Aw heck, let’s go for a triple-play, now that we’re at it: our prediction that Bob Novak would become a major target in all this, as he’s been a major target of the neocons all along, has come true: typically, they used a lefty outlet, The American Prospect, to do it.

Via anonymous sources, we are told that Novak was instructed by his informants not to name Plame. This article is the voice of the defendants in this case, rehearsing their lines to be uttered later in court. Under that kind of assault, would anybody blame Novak if he revealed his sources? He, unfortunately, is above that.

The War Party, headed for a fall, is determined to take down with them a great journalist who opposed their grandiose schemes to “democratize” the Middle East and called them out on their fealty to Israeli over American interests. The Left, which hates Novak on principle (the feeling is no doubt mutual), is glad to pile on.

Without Novak, however, a serious security breach would never have come to light, and the War Party would not now be battening down the hatches and preparing for a long siege. He is rather like that nervy guy who smuggled box-cutters on an airplane in an effort to show how baseless are the government’s claims that they’re beefing up airport security. They threw the book at him, when, instead, he should’ve gotten a medal for exposing the soft underbelly of the security apparatus.

For being the instrument of the War Party’s downfall, Novak, too, deserves a medal. One can only hope that when the neocons grab his ankle and try to drag him down along with them, he garners the support of all those who stand for the freedom of the press. Let’s see all those sincere liberals out there – and I know you’re out there! – come forward to demand: Hands off Bob Novak!

Read more by Justin Raimondo