Belaboring the Obvious

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Unlucky, Picked-On Scooter...

... being persecuted by the bad old prosecutor. That was the dominant theme among the chattering, ass-blasted right before the trial, and it continues after the verdict. It was a vendetta (although a vendetta presumes a desire for payback, and there's no indication at all that Fitzgerald had been earlier wronged by Libby), or, it was the action of an out-of-control prosecutor grasping at straws (and how odd that one is, after the highly partisan Ken Starr's antics for almost a decade, especially comparing Fitzgerald's taciturn approach to evidence pre-trial and Starr's predilections for leaking every scrap of dreck to a hungry press and who had wrung the limp neck of Whitewater for years in the hope of extracting even one technicality against either of the Clintons, and, failing in that, began a series of fishing expeditions into shallower and shallower waters).

After the verdict, of course, this wailing and gnashing of teeth is meant to do a number of things. First, it's a signal for the Libby donors to write a new round of checks to pay for Libby's appeal (how comforting it must be to have so many wealthy friends of comparable ideology...). Second, it's meant to amplify the ongoing message that conservatives are forever victimized by the left and the "liberal media" (always a hilarious assertion, but, then, the right wing is nothing if not consistently and predictably absurd in its self-referential protestations). Third, it's supposed to generate a sympathy for Libby which, on the face of it, he hardly deserves, but, the talk show emphasis on interviewing jurors in the past week who felt that Libby had been forced into the position of falling on his sword is designed to elicit public sympathy leading to a popular movement for a preemptive pardon or a commutation of sentence. Last, of course, all this public breastbeating over cruel fate--comically casting Libby as a modern-day Jean Valjean--is also meant to divert attention from the roles of Bush and Cheney in Scooter's predicament.

Buried well beneath all the superficial reasons for this campaign, however, is an undeniable truth: facts surrounding the Plame outing are not the only guilty knowledge Libby has in his pointy little head. As Cheney's chief of staff, Bush's national security assistant and as a long-time neo-conservative shill whose fingerprints can be found on extremist policy proposals and decisions going back over fifteen years and more, Libby is a walking (but not yet talking) time bomb.

Almost forgotten today is the assertion that Cheney's office may well have interfered with the Army Corps of Engineers' contracting processes in Halliburton's favor, finally resulting in the demotion and harassment of Bunnatine Greenhouse, whose job it was to review the Corps' contracting. The story came and went, but its full truth has yet to be exposed. What that truth is, Scooter Libby likely knows.

One day, someone may connect a dot or two and ponder Cheney's repeated--and unprecedented--visits to CIA headquarters to worry and chew over the evidence for war, and, as some have hinted, to browbeat rank-and-file analysts into modifying or recanting their views on the evidence. Some enterprising investigator may recall, or properly assume, that Cheney was accompanied on those visits by his chief of staff.

Under the duress created by the prospect of time in prison, Libby may come to see his own self-interest in opposition to his loyalty to the people whose government-destroying aims he worked so diligently to further. He might provide incidental details of the operation of Cheney's office--including the identities of the eighty or so staffers whom Cheney and his underlings have thus far refused to reveal--which then might open other avenues of inquiry.

He might be inclined to delineate the channels of communication between the OVP and Rumsfeld's Office of Special Plans which were used to bypass the usual intelligence-vetting protocols. He might be willing, albeit without enthusiasm, to explain the time and circumstances that Bush and Cheney actually began the war on Iraq, in the summer of 2002, without any authorization from Congress and without any report to Congress as required by the War Powers Act.

There are many, many things which Libby knows, and which the public should know, of the hidden reasons for a war now gone sour, and of the self-corruption that is occupation, of spying on Americans and the reading of their mail without warrant, of Guantanamo and secret prisons, of the perversion of the FBI--by itself and by very politically-minded Attorneys General--and about crimes against both law and decency that we have yet to imagine.

The lingering question, then, is if Libby will go on being a stalwart and silent courtier to the power he helped enable, will be another G. Gordon Liddy, defiantly unrepentent and fiercely and adamantly reticent. Libby has always been insanely ideological throughout his career, but, he's been a comfortable ideologue. When he was forced to resign from his position upon indictment, he was immediately retained by one of the many institutes in the wingnut welfare system. His oppressively heavy legal fees in his recent trial have been covered by his friends and friends of the current administration. His lawyering fees outside of government, particularly as Marc Rich's legal representative, have made him more comfortable still. While his future in government is now over, he will always be cared for by the same system which created and nurtured him. There is also a slim possibility that his conviction will be overturned on appeal--perhaps his ideological connections to judges such as Laurence Silberman and David Sentelle will be enough--thus mooting further discussion of his fate.

There should be little expectation of Scooter Libby having an attack of either scruples or conscience, but, once he is sentenced, he will, no doubt, weigh his comfortable existence against the prospect of being denied those comforts for a significant length of time. Fitzgerald has stated, plainly, that his investigation is over, and that there is no more to be done, suggesting that there is little that Scooter can do to redeem himself in the eyes of the prosecutor with regard to his own case, unless, of course, he has testimony sufficiently dramatic to reopen the Plame case, or to open new investigations of administration wrongdoing. Only then will he begin the process of calculating how little he can offer against how much he is likely to gain.

If Scooter's really lucky, Alberto Gonzales and Karl Rove will have purged the Justice Department of all prosecutors determined enough to bring new investigations before Scooter has to make that decision. After all, that's the way things are done in Scooter's world.

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