Thursday, November 03, 2005

Simple perjury or high treason?

The Plame affair:
Perjury or treason?

THE INDICTMENT of Irwing Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the senior-most aide to US Vice-President Richard B Cheney, on charges that he committed perjury while answering questions whether he had revealed the identity of an undercover operative of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to the media is seen by many as perhaps the beginning of the end of the administration of President George W Bush. They believe that the Libby affair could take the lid off a tightly closed Pandora's Box which could offer revelations of how, where, when, why and how the Bush administration plotted the invasion and occupation of Iraq as the forerunner of sweeping changes in the Middle East to serve American and Israeli interests. However, there are many ifs and buts over how long it would take to persuade the Republican-dominated US Congress — or whether it could be persuaded at all — to give the green signal for an all-embracing investigation that could even bring out some of the deep secrets of the Sept.11, 2001, attacks, writes PV Vivekanand.

A senior Bush administration official has been indicted for lying before a grand jury. Another has been spared indictment at this point but is under investigation. Questions are raised whether the president and vice-president played a direct role in the unfolding scandal. But there seems to be a deliberate drive to confuse the issues with the hope of concealing the core of the affair and diverting focus away the real issues involved. There is definitely a concerted campaign to label the affair as a matter of a senior official simply committing perjury.
Legal "experts" are being quoted extensively talking about the "legality" of lying, perjury and of obstruction of justice. The corporate media are playing along with the administration's deceptive exercise, and the judge appointed to try the indicted official is a long-term supporter of the ruling party.
For all practical purposes, the whole affair fits neatly into the pattern of deception that the world saw in the US build-up for justifying the war against Iraq and plans to subject Syria and Iran to similar treatment.
However, no such exposure is likely to result from the Libby indictment and trial if it is kept within the current limitations of investigations.
Karl Rove, a long-term associate of President Bush, escaped being indicted last week, but he is under investigation. Again, in technical terms, the allegation involves perjury.
No matter how special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald presents his case under the scope of his present mandate, it is difficult to see the core issue being brought up in court; the reality, according to critics of the Bush administration, being that Libby lied to the grand jury because he wanted to escape from being charged with treason — naming an undercover intelligence operative is treason — and that the whole episode is intrinsically tied to the orchestrated invasion of Iraq and plans for similar action against others.
Libby was a key figure in the administration's planning of the war against Iraq. He led the list of those who hyped reports of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. He was the one who wrote the speech that the then secretary of state, Colin Powell, delivered at the United Nations justifying the war in early 2003. After leaving office Powell apologised to having made that speech.
But Libby was not alone. The game was deception involved almost everyone in the chain of command all the way up and down the administration — plus some key figures in the US corporate media. Some of them might not have known what was behind it, but most of them knew they were party to grand-scale deception.
Some of them could have wanted to act against engaging in deception as their conscience could have told them to, but they knew that top administration officials were willing to go to any extent to quash dissent and challenge to their grand designs. Those who orchestrated the deception also wanted to send a loud and clear message to anyone who might be inclined to throw a spanner in their works. They would not have stopped at anything to trample the life of anyone who challenged them no matter what.
That is what the Valerie Plame Wilson affair is all about. Everything else is in the periphery.
That is what the Democrats are insisting and that is also the central theme in the thousands of articles and messages crowding the cyberspace, particularly in the so-called blog domains where people are free to provide information and air their opinions.
The key argument there is that Libby and whoever else was/were involved named Valerie Plame Wilson as an undercover CIA operative to punish her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, for exposing that the Bush administration used false claims as real facts to convince the American Congress and people that there was a genuine reason to invade Iraq.
Anti-war activists are absolutely certain that this was deliberate because it has been established that the neoconservative hawks in Washington had planned the invasion of Iraq even before Bush entered the White House in 2001.
A strategy document Cheney commissioned from the Project for a New American Century in September 2000 asserts that "the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein." But, as the document reflects, the neoconservatives knew the American public would not agree to an attack against Iraq unless there were a "catastrophic and catalysing event — like a new Pearl Harbor." And the "new Pearl Harbor" was indeed the Sept.11, 2001 attacks.
Strong arguments are put up by many American commentators and analysts that someone in the top echelon of the Bush administration played a direct or indirect role in the Sept.11 attacks, which, very conveniently, allowed the government to launch its self-styled war against terror, with Israel being the best beneficiary, what with Saddam Hussein being eliminated as a potential threat to the Jewish state and the US pursuing the goal of regime change in Syria and Iran, two other holdouts against Israeli domination of the Middle East.
It becomes abdunantly clear then that the Bush administration — which has diehard pro-Israelis in key positions — had every interest in neutralising any challenge to its justifications for the invasion of Iraq.
Therefore, Libby's (intended) defence based on "lapse of memory" is nothing but a ruse because leaking of Plame's name was definitely part of the neocons' determination not to allow anyone to stand in their way. What Libby did represented the natural response of a group of people going towards a pre-determined goal and there was nothing unnatural about it that it could be blamed on foggy memory.


A veteran in politics, Libby could not but be aware that exposing an undercover intelligence operative is undermining national security and compromising vital operations.
In Plame's case, the compromised operation was CIA monitoring of nuclear devices, fissionable material and delivery systems in Russia.
As a result of the exposure, the CIA operations had to be called off, and it is also suggested the Israeli Mossad secret agency grabbed some of the Russian nukes, which could be used in a false-flag operation where Arabs or Iranians could be blamed, accoring to Whitley Strieber, a well-known writer about mysteries and UFOs.
The Russian operation of Brewster-Jennings and Associates involved monitoring "loose nukes, making sure that nothing goes missing, and tracking and locating missing items" across the southern areas of the former Soviet Union where there are numerous nuclear devices, fissionable material and delivery systems that are barely guarded by the locals."
It also had clandestine operations in in China, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Pakistan, and Syria.
It was also reported that at least one CIA agent committed suicide because of the Plame exposure.
Palme's immediate superior at the CIA, Jim Pavitt, resigned from the agency in the wake of the outing.
Strieber writes: "Valerie Plame was no small fish. The revelation of her name is, in fact, the most serious intelligence disaster in the history of this country. Only a tiny number of high officials, such as the president, the secretaries of state and defence, and a few high White House officials even have access to the names of the CIA’s 'non-official cover' officers."

Questions about judge

Concerns are expressed over the purported political links that the judge who will try Libby has with the Republicans.
US District Judge for DC Reggie Walton was appointed to the District of Colombia Superior Court in 1981 by Ronald Reagan. In 1989, he was appointed by George HW Bush as the deputy drug czar under Bill Bennett. Walton was reappointed to the DC Superior Court by the senior Bush.
George W. Bush nominated Walton to the US District Court for DC in 2001.
 Walton was the judge who, under pressure from the Justice Department, placed a gag order on former Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) translator and whistleblower Sibel Edmonds and cleared his courtroom of the public and media in Edmonds' hearing in her case against the FBI. Edmonds brought to light important information about how the FBI failed to translate important wiretap intercepts before and after the Sept.11 attacks. (

Getting away with it

With Americans growing increasingly sceptical of the administration's claims, the Democrats have moved in, pressing for results of investigations whether the government mishandled pre-war intelligence or doctored intelligence reports.
According to a Washington Post/ABC News poll conducted in June, 52 per cent of Americans now believe the president deliberately distorted intelligence to make a case for war.
The outstanding evidence is the revelation in a secret British memo of July 2002 that Prime Minister Tony Blair and his aides believed that "military action (against Iraq) was now seen as inevitable" and that "intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy,"
An Ipsos Public Affairs poll, commissioned after the memo was published in the British press in April this year, showed that 50 per cent of Americans believed that if Bush lied about his reasons for going to war the US Congress should consider impeaching him.
Writing under the headline "The White House criminal conspiracy," Elizabeth de la Vega, a former federal prosecutor, declares that there is enough ground to charge the Bush administration with "criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States" but it would require expanding the scope of the Plame inquriry.
There are already calls for expanding the Plame case investigation.
Several congressmen have asked Acting Deputy Attorney General Robert McCallum that Fitzgerald's authority be expanded to include an investigation into whether the White House conspired to mislead the country into war. The Plame affair, they say, is just the "tip of the iceberg."
De La Vega declares: "As we now know, it was not a failure of intelligence that led us to war. It was a deliberate distortion of intelligence by the Bush administration. But it is a failure of courage on the part of Congress (with notable exceptions) and the mainstream media that seems to have left us helpless to address this crime." (
She goes onto say: "The president's deceit is not only an abuse of power; it is a federal crime. Specifically, it is a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, which prohibits conspiracies to defraud the United States...
"The Supreme Court has defined the phrase 'conspiracy to defraud the United States' as 'to interfere with, impede or obstruct a lawful government function by deceit, craft or trickery, or at least by means that are dishonest'.
"Finally, 'fraud' is broadly defined to include half-truths, omissions or misrepresentation; in other words, statements that are intentionally misleading, even if literally true. Fraud also includes making statements with 'reckless indifference' to their truth.

Clash of interests

In the meantime, according to the Washington Post, the Libby case, if it goes to public trial, could pit the former White House aide's interests with that of the president himself.
Cheney has named longtime counsel David Addington as his new chief of staff and John Hannah as national security adviser. Both were questioned in the Libby indictment.
If Libby's case goes to trial, Cheney's new chief of staff David Addington and national security adviser John Hannah as well as many White House officials -- including the vive-president himself -could be forced to testify about how they handled pre-war intelligence, dealt with the media and built the argument for the Iraq war.
Republicans worry that Libby's court fight will force Bush to deal with the prospect of top officials testifying and embarrassing disclosures of how the White House operates and treats critics, according to the Post.
There is a possibility that Libby might make a deal with the prosecutor and close the case without a public trial. If that happens, then gone are chances that the veil be torn away from the game of deception in Washington.

Expanded investigation

Activists have brought into question what they see as the glaring and deliberaste shortcomings of the congressional investigation.
The Roberts panel promised an inquiry into the Plame outing a year ago, but nothing has been done, says Josh Marshall, is editor of
Marshall questions why Roberts got his fellow panel members to agree to 'split up the Senate’s Iraqi WMD investigation — investigate flawed intelligence before the 2004 election, investigate political manipulation of intelligence and other administration bad acts after the election."
"Like Lucy with her football, once the election was safely past, Sen. Roberts announced that his committee couldn’t make time for the promised second phase of the investigation. 'It’s basically on the back burner,' Roberts said about phase two of the investigation in a speech in Washington last March. 'The bottom line is that (the White House) believed the intelligence, and the intelligence was wrong.' Now more than a year has passed, and nothing."
Marshall sees a deliberate stonewalling of the investigation. He notes that the Plame affair stemmed from a forged document that has been traced to Italy stating that Saddam had bought nuclear material from Niger. Plame's husband Wilson was assigned to investigate and reported back that there was no truth to the allegation. And the blame for the forgery was placed squarely at the door of Italian intelligence.
"What it all amounts to is that the Senate intel panel (headed by Republican Pat Roberts of Kansas) passed up a chance to investigate the Niger forgeries because the FBI was allegedly already on the case," notes Marshall. "But it seems the FBI never got on the case in any serious way — something Sen. Roberts would at least have been in a position to know. It looks very much like another Roberts bait-and-switch, like splitting up the WMD probe so as to push all scrutiny of the White House until after the 2004 election."
Italy's La Republica newspaper reported this week that the key person behind the forgery was icolo Pollari, the head of SISMI, the Italian intelligence agency and that Pollari held a secret meeting in Washington on Sept. 9, 2002, with then-deputy national security adviser Stephen Hadley.
"That’s less than a month before the forgeries appeared in Rome and right about the time the White House was fighting with the CIA over whether President Bush could publicise the Niger uranium claim," notes Marshall.
According to La Republica, Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute, Pentagon official Lawrence Franklin, who is now facing charges of spying for Israel, and Harold Rhode of the Office of Special Plans, held a meeting in Rome attended by top SISMI officials as well as several Iranians.
Ledeen is the neoconservative ideologue and veteran who has both Iranian and Israeli contacts.
Author and commentaror Justin Raimundo describes Ledeen as "the Machiavelli of the neocons, the one who ends his polemics with the exhortation "Faster, please!" – a plea to accelerate the pace of "regime change" throughout the Middle East."
"And he is not just an ideologue, rooting on the sidelines for the 'good guys,' but an active player, as La Repubblica makes all too clear: he played the key role of facilitator of the various factions with a keen interest in 'liberating" Iraq," Raimundo writes on
He also refers to a statement quoted by La Repubblica attributed to an unnamed US intelligence source:
"The meeting called in Rome assembles the representatives of all the teams: Michael A. Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute, Larry Franklin and Harold Rhode of the Office of Special Plans, the colonels of the Iraqi National Congress (headed by Ahmed Chalabi) and in addition, the Iraqi Shi'ites of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) and of course, the Guardians of the Revolution. All these actors gathered in Rome. Wouldn't you say that's interesting?"

From top to bottom

A summary of various comments appearing on blogsites would show that at least 23 people, including Bush and Cheney, allegedly played some kind of role in the Plame affair.
These people include:
Karl Rove;
Condoleezza Rice, then national security adviser;
Stephen Hadley, then deputy to Rice and now her successor;
Andrew Card, White House chief of staff;
Alberto Gonzales, a Bush associate and now attorney general;
Mary Matalin, a Bush associate and consellor to Cheney;
Ari Fleischer, former White House spokesman;
Susan Ralston, special assistant to Bush;
Israel Hernandez, assistant secretary of commerce;
John Hannah, Cheney's national security adviser;
Scott McClellan, white House spokesman;
Dan Bartlett, Bush counsellor;
Claire Buchan, White House spokeswoman;
Catherine Martin, a former aide to Cheney;
Jennifer Millerwise, former Cheney spokeswoman;
David Wurmser; Cheney aide on national security;
Colin Powell;
Karen Hughes, a former White House counsellor;
Adam Levine; a Bush associate;
Bob Joseph, member of the National Security Council;
Cheney; and
According to Raimundo, "The Libby indictment is just the beginning. Neocon-gate is big, and getting bigger by the day...."

Congressional moves

The Democrats used the issue to force the majority Republicans in the Senate to hold a closed session this week.
Discussed during the session was charges that intelligence that Bush used in the run-up to the war in Iraq was doctored and that the Republicans were ignoring the issue.
Democratic leader Harry Reid, who is leading calls for Bush and Cheney to apologise for the actions of Libby and Rove and for Rove's resignation, brought the focus on prewar intelligence.
"The Libby indictment provides a window into what this is really all about, how this administration manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to sell the war in Iraq and attempted to destroy those who dared to challenge its actions," Reid said before invoking Senate rules that led to the closed session. He said Republicans have repeatedly rebuffed Democratic pleas for a thorough investigation.
Reid demanded that Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts of Kansas would complete the second phase of an investigation of the administration's prewar intelligence. A six-member task force — three members from each party — was appointed to review the Intelligence Committee's work and report to their respective leaders by Nov.14.
Roberts' committee produced a 511-page report in 2004 on flaws in an Iraq intelligence estimate assembled by the country's top analysts in October 2002, and he promised a second phase would look at issues that couldn't be finished in the first year of work.
The committee worked on the second phase of the review, Roberts said, but it has not finished. He blamed Democrats for the delays and said his staff had informed Democratic counterparts on Monday that the committee hoped to complete the second phase next week.
However, critics say, the second phase report is not expected to have any element that would suggest that the administration doctored intelligence reports in order to justify the war.
The questions for which Reid is demanding answers are:
How did the Bush administration assemble its case for war against Iraq?
Who did Bush administration officials listen to and who did they ignore?
How did senior administration officials manipulate or manufacture intelligence presented to the Congress and the American people?
What was the role of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG), a group of senior White House officials tasked with marketing the war and taking down its critics?
How did the administration co-ordinate its efforts to attack individuals who dared to challenge the administration's assertions?
Why has the administration failed to provide Congress with the documents that will shed light on their misconduct and misstatements?
The right and honest answers to these questions could indeed signal the end of the Bush administration. In order to arrive at point, a bipartisan political will is an absolute in Washington, and that is missing at this point. However, more skeletons could tumble out of the cupboard as Fitzgerald proceeds with his case and there could be a falling out within the Republican camp, and that is the best bet for many in the US and outside who want to get to the bottom of the misadventures of the Bush administration.