Sunday, November 20, 2005

An Open Letter To Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald From Former White House Counsel John W. Dean

...Even more troubling, from an historical point of view, is the fact that the narrowness of your investigation, which apparently is focusing on the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (making it a crime to uncover the covert status of a CIA agent), plays right into the hands of perpetrators in the Administration.

Indeed, this is exactly the plan that was employed during Watergate by those who sought to conceal the Nixon Administration's crimes, and keep criminals in office.

The plan was to keep the investigation focused on the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters -- and away from the atmosphere in which such an action was undertaken. Toward this end, I was directed by superiors to get the Department of Justice to keep its focus on the break-in, and nothing else.

That was done. And had Congress not undertaken its own investigation (since it was a Democratically-controlled Congress with a Republican President) it is very likely that Watergate would have ended with the conviction of those caught in the bungled burglary and wiretapping attempt at the Democratic headquarters.

Now, with a Republican-controlled Congress and a Republican President, you (a Republican appointee) are the last bulwark of protection for the American people. We must hope you will keep faith with them.... The Man Who Sold the War

The road to war in Iraq led through many unlikely places. One of them was a chic hotel nestled among the strip bars and brothels that cater to foreigners in the town of Pattaya, on the Gulf of Thailand. On December 17th, 2001, in a small room within the sound of the crashing tide, a CIA officer attached metal electrodes to the ring and index fingers of a man sitting pensively in a padded chair. The officer then stretched a black rubber tube, pleated like an accordion, around the man's chest and another across his abdomen. Finally, he slipped a thick cuff over the man's brachial artery, on the inside of his upper arm.

Strapped to the polygraph machine was Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri, a forty-three-year-old Iraqi who had fled his homeland in Kurdistan and was now determined to bring down Saddam Hussein. For hours, as thin mechanical styluses traced black lines on rolling graph paper, al-Haideri laid out an explosive tale. Answering yes and no to a series of questions, he insisted repeatedly that he was a civil engineer who had helped Saddam's men to secretly bury tons of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. The illegal arms, according to al-Haideri, were buried in subterranean wells, hidden in private villas, even stashed beneath the Saddam Hussein Hospital, the largest medical facility in Baghdad.

It was damning stuff -- just the kind of evidence the Bush administration was looking for. If the charges were true, they would offer the White House a compelling reason to invade Iraq and depose Saddam. That's why the Pentagon had flown a CIA polygraph expert to Pattaya: to question al-Haideri and confirm, once and for all, that Saddam was secretly stockpiling weapons of mass destruction.

There was only one problem: It was all a lie. After a review of the sharp peaks and deep valleys on the polygraph chart, the intelligence officer concluded that al-Haideri had made up the entire story, apparently in the hopes of securing a visa.

The fabrication might have ended there, the tale of another political refugee trying to scheme his way to a better life. But just because the story wasn't true didn't mean it couldn't be put to good use. Al-Haideri, in fact, was the product of a clandestine operation -- part espionage, part PR campaign -- that had been set up and funded by the CIA and the Pentagon for the express purpose of selling the world a war. And the man who had long been in charge of the marketing was a secretive and mysterious creature of the Washington establishment named John Rendon....
You know the drill... read the whole thing.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

'Woodward Could Be a Boon to Libby'


I believe it was INTENDED as a boon to Libby and the White House writ large. In fact, it seems to me that Woodward's 'revelation' is merely the latest dirty trick to come down the pike.

Would Woodward burn his reputation as a journalist (which, we must admit, was already heavily tarnished among those who actually pay attention to such matters) on defending this White House? We already know the answer in Judy Miller's case... and I suspect the answer is the same for both: YES!


1) Ideologically Woodward had already cast his lot with the Bushites, just like Judy Miller. If you have doubts read his book "Bush at War."

2) Woodward cannot document any of the 'revelations' for which he is now apologizing, no contemporaneous notes, no contemporaneous mentions to anyone -- not even his editor. (Woodward did let his editor in on 'the secret' just one month ago... but for no apparent reason, other than setting up an alibi perhaps?!?) The one journalist he cites as having spoken to about this, Walter Pincus, dismissed it out of hand.
Pincus said he does not recall Woodward telling him that. In an interview, Pincus said he cannot imagine he would have forgotten such a conversation around the same time he was writing about Wilson.

"Are you kidding?" Pincus said. "I certainly would have remembered that."
3) His revelations are easily construed as an attempt to buttress the fairy tales peddled by the White House regarding the leak: the status of Wilson's wife was merely innocent gossip within DC circles, reporters knew early on, and there was no intense focus on Wilson and Plame or concerted attempt to intimidate the CIA via her exposure. (see the Washington Post story drawing these conclusions right here).
"I think it's a considerable boost to the defendant's case," said John Moustakas, a former federal prosecutor who has no role in the case. "It casts doubt about whether Fitzgerald knew everything as he charged someone with very serious offenses." Other legal experts agreed.

Moustakas said Woodward also has considerable credibility because he has been granted "unprecedented access" to the inner workings of the Bush White House. "When Woodward says this information was disclosed to me in a nonchalant and casual way -- not as if it was classified -- it helps corroborate Libby's account about himself and about the administration," Moustakas said.
Woodward's 'revelation' also casts doubt on prosecutor Fitgerald's grasp of the case, implying that key facts in the chronology of the leak are still unknown.

4) Did we mention that Woodward's 'cover' was blown by a 'Senior Administration Official"? Since when did a SAO do anything out of fairness or the public interest? This is coming out now because they believe Woodward's fabrications will help beat back Fitzgerald's investigation.

But why would a Woodward or Miller court public disgrace on behalf of the Bushites? Because both of them are 'true believers': they truly believe in the fundamentals of the Bushite governing philosophy. That philosophy holds that people are ignorant cattle who need to be manipulated by their betters for their own sake, that the world is a nasty place and nasty deeds must be done to make one's way through it successfully, and that the end justifies the means. Mayberry Machiavellis, meet your city cousins, the self-annointed DC elite! As their work and lack of basic journalistic ethics suggests, both Woodward and Miller consider themselves as a breed apart from their journalist 'peers': they consider themselves players, not mere reporters.

Sure, there will be a brief period of disgrace among the SoCalledLibrulMedia to endure, but from their perspective it is a small sacrifice to advance their 'ideals.' And in the end, they will be lionized by the Bushite faithful. Speaking of merely materialist payoffs, imagine some potential rewards that Woodward will extract in consequence of falling on his 'journalistic sword': the sole authorized biography of Bush perhaps...?

Bonus point: We only have Woodward's word (which, however you read the recent 'apology,' is now utterly worthless) that CIA director George Tenet ever said finding WMDs in Iraq would be a 'slam dunk.' What is the probative value of this statement today?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005