The following is the text of a letter to the editor of the SB News Press that I sent today. Probably too long to be published, so I thought I'd send it into cyberspace. What the hell, it was fun writing it.
To the editor, Santa Barbara News Press
Re the indictment of
To those who contend—I’m talking about Limbaugh, Hannity and their ilk—that Scooter Libby’s misstatements to the FBI and grand jury about the leak of Valerie Plame’s status with the CIA are inconsequential crimes, reflect on this.
We must first address the Why Bother? question. Why would anyone—Cheney, Libby, Rove, all of whom discussed the matter at length—bother to delve into the employment of the Joe Wilson’s wife? Because, of course, by arguing that as a CIA employee she was instrumental in
arranging Wilson’s trip to Niger, they could cheapen Wilson’s negative report on the Niger-yellowcake deal, devaluing his effort as simply the result of a familial junket, devaluing him as a nobody, merely a beneficiary of a well-positioned bureaucrat.
But why try to devalue Joe Wilson, and so his report? I’ll tell you why.
First, it’s undisputed that the famous “16 words” of Bush’s State of the Union address were critical, in the view of those in his administration—notably Cheney, Wolfowitz, Perle and Libby—to establishing the case for war against Iraq. These words raised the specter of nuclear explosions on American soil, demolishing whole cities, not just toppling towers, not just clogging subways. So important was Bush’s phrase, that Iraq had sought “significant quantities of uranium from Africa,” that it was much massaged by his handlers to be attributed to the
Brits, because the CIA disputed the evidence and indeed had insisted that the reference be stricken in an earlier Bush speech—and Colin Powell didn’t touch it in his watershed speech to the UN Security Council some weeks later. Indeed, as later conceded by CIA Director George Tenet, those words should never have been included in Bush's address—a concession made, however, only after the invasion.
Second, what would be the repercussions of such a revelation, that is, that the executive branch of the US government, to which its foreign policy is entrusted under our Constitution, purposefully misstated the evidence for war in a crucial address to the Congress and the nation to support the invasion? I’ll tell you what.
It’s not just a lie—although it certainly was a lie. It’s not just an impeachable offense—although it’s certainly that, if Clinton’s lies about his sexual encounters were impeachable. No, it’s worse,
much worse: It’s direct evidence of a war crime, no less obvious than the Nazis’ falsification of evidence of Poland’s border incursion to justify Germany’s unprovoked invasion of that nation in 1939. To those who followed the Nuremberg trials, Germany’s invasion of Poland was a principal count of the indictment of the Nazis for war crimes, i.e., “waging a war of aggression.”
So, when the Bush/Cheney cabal drafted those 16 words, and Bush delivered
them—cleverly crafted, dramatically delivered—they knowingly risked everything, including exposure as war criminals, in furtherance of their ambition to take over Iraq and, with it, dominion over the assets and politics of the Middle East.
So—enter Libby. He’s among those who promoted the Iraq invasion, according to his own account, but Wilson’s yellowcake report disputed the basis for it. Libby then confered with Cheney and others, who determined to nip the report in the bud, to dispute its validity by
questioning the veracity, the solidity, of its author. Not a new concept: When you don’t like the news, kill the messenger. A ploy that had been used by the Bush administration to fine effect in the past, too numerous to mention.
And it worked, for a time. Joe Wilson’s negative report about the Niger-yellowcake deal wallowed among the myriad of other stories questioning Bush’s case for war, including the aluminum-tubes debate, the mobile biological-labs chase and the long-range drones silliness. The neo-cons, of which Libby was an avid member, had waged their war and it was underway.
But by the time Joe Wilson’s report was published in the major media, in a New York Times editorial, no less—and no WMD’s had yet been found in Iraq—the neo-cons were worried, worried bigtime, that their pre-war lies would be found out. And so—kill the messenger.
Who was behind Libby’s leaks, and who was he protecting with his lies to the FBI and the grand jury? His boss Cheney, of course; and no doubt he acted with Rove’s approval and
Bush’s concurrence. There’s no way Cheney’s first deputy would take on such a
project on his own.
Will we ever know who, exactly? Maybe not. But we know why, exactly. So that Libby, Cheney, Bush and Rove, as well as the entire cabal in the Pentagon--and without--who caused this nation to invade Iraq based on lies, would escape exposure as war criminals, war criminals under the same legal principles that international law applied in the past to those who lied to provoke invasion of a sovereign nation.