Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Rove Affair: Democrats MIA

Folks might wonder, with all the great coverage, why the Karl Rover scandal suddenly seems to be going nowhere. In recent press conferences we've seen a strange sight: reporters actually doing their jobs. White House press secretary Scotty Moonface McSharkbait took a pummeling over his "no comment on an ongoing investigation" a few weeks ago. The usually sheep-like White House press corps finally mustered up just enough testosterone to make it hurt.

What's missing is an OPPOSITION PARTY that acts like one, when an issue like this drops into their lap. You know, a party, I guess that would be the Democrats, that sits down and games-out who's going to hit them one news cycle, and who's going to hit them the next. Do we really need to explain it? No one is driving this. Nancy Pelosi? Harry Reid? Don't they get paid extra for this sort of thing? Remember when the Republicans tag-teamed Clinton under the leadership of lead attack dog Newt Gingrich? Like that! Keep it in the news, remind folks of what's at stake. There are bombshells everywhere at the Democrats' feet; last month former CIA officer Larry Johnson, who was Valerie Plame's classmate at spook school, opened an interview on AIR AMERICA with the words "treason, pure and simple" to describe what Rover did. Johnson went on to suggest that if we are slaughtered by terrorists using a weapon of mass destruction, the White House could be partly responsible. (JOHNSON AUDIO HERE)

What do Democrats do? Get sucked into a debate over Bush's punk of a Supreme Court nominee, floated at just this time for just this purpose. STEP ONE: Bring business to a grinding halt! Dominate the news cycle! Democrats should say the safety of the American people trumps everything. No business will be conducted until we get to the bottom of this. If the Democrats do not, and we are attacked with WMD, let it be noted here and now that blood will be on their hands too. As I am fond of saying, about half of Congress from both parties sitting in jail on just general principles sounds about right to me. They failed in the war on terror. All of them.

Air America also says a real sleeper story is that more Americans are in favor of Bush's impeachment than were in favor of Clinton's.

Thirty years of Plame's patient web-weaving set to snare WMD before it got us now useless. Time magazine found irony in Rove's brand of "hardball" coming back to "haunt him," as if smear politics and high treason were the same. The real irony is that the entire Iraq Backfire was started over weapons of mass destruction, and it is to weapons of mass destruction that the Bush administration has now betrayed us.

Lighting fire under Democrat ass, and Republicans of conscience, is up to us. It is we and our children who will die as a result of letting ourselves become jaded even so far as tolerating traitors in the Oval Office. Rove should be in jail or in front of the firing squad. Bush should step down for harboring a traitor. The media spinners say that Rove cannot be convicted under the narrow provisions of the law to which prosecutor Fitzgerald wants to limit this, in his attempt to keep the dogs in the yard. But Rove may have violated more than one law. One is against "giving...Aid and Comfort [to our enemies.]" I'd say Al Qaeda, which now has Valerie Plame's number, is an enemy. That law is called ARTICLE III, SECTION 3 of the US Constitution. The crime is treason.

Here are your congressmans' PHONE NUMBERS AND EMAILS, with a nifty zip-code-based finder. August is the month congressmen go back to their districts to hear constituents. This could be the most important appointment you and your friends ever make. If the Democrats really wanted to shaft the John Roberts nomination and save Roe v. Wade, the surest way would be to not let the Rove Affair drop. My eccentric neighbor Peter has a fence festooned with pithy sayings and food for thought. His latest artwork says: "National Center for Defense Against Leaders: You're in Charge."


On July 22, 2005 Sens. Henry Waxman and Bryon Dorgan held committee hearings on the Plame Affair. Following are a few exerpts from the testimony at that hearing. LINK TO FULL TRANSCRIPT OF HEARING HERE.

Statement of retired U.S. military intelligence and U.S. Army Special Service Forces Colonel W. Patrick Lang, decorated veteran of several of America's overseas conflicts, including the war in Vietnam; trained and educated as a Middle East specialist; the first professor of the Arabic language at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

"Mr. Chairman, distinguished members of the House of Representatives, it's a great pleasure to be here. And I thank you for letting me speak here today. I feel particularly strongly about this case, not so much on a personal level so much as I feel that what has happened with regard to this disclosure and follow-up is a kind of structural assault on the ability of the United States to have sound and well-respected and effective clandestine intelligence services.

"As I'm sure you know, the present war that we are engaged on, which will go on for a long time, I think, because it is, in fact, a war against a kind of tendency, a set of ideas, that moves around, that kind of war involves enemies that go into subway stations carrying 10-pound packs of homemade explosives.

"These fellows, they don't have much of a technical signature for their intelligence detection. They have no overhead photography signature: a pickup truck, something like that. They don't really have a signals intelligence signature much because they're very clever and they've gotten to be better and better at not doing the kinds of things that make them vulnerable. So in the end, what you have to have is you have to have human beings who will go and find out for you what it is they're going to do next.

"And we haven't done that very well, evidently, up until now. It doesn't seem that way to me, anyway, from the outside. But it is a peculiarity of this kind of war that that is exactly the kind of intelligence that you have to have.

"And what has happened here, I think is, as I say, an assault on the ability of the United States to do that.

"Why would that be? It's because HUMINT is about human beings. It's about one person, an American person, a case officer in the parlance of the trade, causing some foreign person to trust him enough and to trust his unit and to trust the United States enough to put his life, his fortune and, indeed, his sacred honor in many cases into the hands of this case officer and the American intelligence unit that stands behind this case officer.

"It's all about trust; it's completely about trust. It's about -- I happen to have done a good deal of this kind of work in my life. And the moment in which some person, whether he's an ambassador or a Montagnard in the hills of Vietnam with filed teeth, decides that he's going to trust you enough so that he's going to believe that you will protect him in every way in doing what he is doing, which is extremely dangerous to him and his family and to everyone else, is a magic moment, indeed. It's almost sacramental in a lot of ways, really.

"And it imposes on the case officer and the unit behind him in the United States the kind of obligations that are as serious in some ways as the seal of the confessional, really. I mean, I'm a Catholic; I understand exactly what that means.

"And the obligation to protect this person is absolute, in fact. And it's not only absolute from the point of view of morality; it's absolute from the point of view of practicality as well, because if within a practicing clandestine intelligence unit the case officers believe that their superiors will not protect the identity of their sources or their own identity, in fact, in doing things which are dangerous and difficult, then a, kind of, circle of doubt begins to spread, like throwing a rock into the water.

"And it spreads in such a way so that if an intelligence service that belongs to a particular country comes to be thought generally in the world as an organization that does not protect its own, does not protect its foreign assets, then the obvious is true in that people are not going to accept recruitment, are not going to work for you. And the smarter they are, the better placed they are, the better educated they are, the less likely they are to accept recruitment and to work for you if they believe that you are not going to fight in the last ditch to protect their identities.

"And so, this is all completely about trust.

"In a strange kind of way, the kind of people who are valuable to recruiters, foreign assets, are a kind of community. They're a community of the well-informed and the alert, and the people who have a great deal of situational awareness.

"They're often in government. They're in banking or they're in this or that. And these people pay attention to what's going on. And they know whether or not the clandestine services of a particular country can be trusted with their lives. They know that.

"And in an odd way, our former Soviet opponents in the GRU and the KGB, they're a good example of the fact that you have to do this the right way, because it was an absolutely never violated thing in the KGB that they ever gave up an agent permanently. They would struggle -- if someone was captured, imprisoned, tried, like Colonel Abel or somebody like that, they would work forever to try to get this person exchanged and get him back, because they knew that if the word got out, in fact, that they wouldn't do that, their sources of recruitment, the trust that people would have in them, would dry up and would go away.

"So when you have an instance like this, in fact, in which not just the intelligence community, but the elected government of the sponsoring government, of the major country in the world, deliberately, and apparently for trivial and passing political reasons, decides to disclose the identity of a covered officer, the word goes around the world like a shock, in fact, that, in fact, "The Americans can't be trusted -- the Americans can't be trusted. If you decide to cooperate clandestinely with the Americans, someone back there will give you up -- someone will give you up, and then everything will be over for you." So you don't do it.

"And so the very kinds of people you need to get into the heart of this galaxy of jihadi groups and people like this will make a judgment that they are not going to trust you in this way. And once that happens, then the possibility of penetrating these groups, the possibility of knowing that they're going to carry 10-pound bags of explosive in the subway stations, will go right down the drain.

"It will be done forever. It would take forever to get that back, because this is all about trust and this is a violation of trust."

Excerpts from the Statement of Former CIA Officer James Marcinkowski:

"What is important now is not who wins or loses the political battle or who may or may not be indicted; rather, it is a question of how we will go about protecting the citizens of this country in a very dangerous world. The undisputed fact is that we have irreparably damaged our capability to collect human intelligence and thereby significantly diminished our capability to protect the American people..."

"So how is the Valerie Plame incident perceived by any current or potential agent of the CIA? I will guarantee you that if the local police chief identified the names of the department's undercover officers, any half-way sophisticated undercover operation would come to a halt and if he survived that accidental discharge of a weapon in police headquarters, he would be asked to retire..."

"Great damage has been done and that damage has been increasing every single day for more than two years..."

"...the problem lies not only with government officials but also with the media, commentators and other apologists who have no clue as to the workings of the intelligence community. Think about what we are doing from the perspective of our overseas human intelligence assets or potential assets..."

"Each time there is a perceived political "success" in deflecting responsibility by debating or re-debating some minutia, such actions are equally effective in undermining the ability of this country to protect itself against its enemies, because the two are indeed related. Each time the political machine made up of prime-time patriots and partisan ninnies display their ignorance by deriding Valerie Plame as a mere "paper-pusher," or belittling the varying degrees of cover used to protect our officers, or continuing to play partisan politics with our national security, it is a disservice to this country. By ridiculing, for example, the "degree" of cover or the use of post office boxes, you lessen the level of confidence that foreign nationals place in our covert capabilities..."

"...the president could have immediately demanded the resignation of all persons even tangentially involved. Or, at a minimum, he could have suspended the security clearances of these persons and placed them on administrative leave. Such methods are routine with police forces throughout the country. That would have at least sent the right message around the globe, that we take the security of those risking their lives on behalf of the United States seriously. Instead, we have flooded the foreign airwaves with two years of inaction, political rhetoric, ignorance, and partisan bickering. That's the wrong message. In doing so we have not lessened, but increased the threat to the security and safety of the people of the United States..."

Comment from U.S. Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY)

"I don't know if you recall "60 Minutes," when Secretary [Paul] O'Neill who went on "60 Minutes" to talk about the first meeting that he went to in the White House after the inauguration, they talked about invading Iraq and showed some document. The White House was on him like fuzz on a blanket. And the very next day they were yelling "classified, classified." And then Vice President Cheney demanded an investigation in September 2001 when he thought something had been leaked."



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