Monday, October 24, 2005

Cheney Rumors, Fall-out, and Fallings-out

by Margie Burns
We are told that eight indictments in the Plame case have already been prepared, with the possibility of another ten.
Both yahoo.com and the Washington Post report that chief presidential advisor Karl Rove discussed Valerie Plame as a CIA operative with I. Lewis Libby, chief of staff for Vice President Cheney. US News reports that rumors of a Cheney resignation are flying fast around the White House.

Veteran intelligence professional Ray McGovern writes an analysis explaining why Cheney must have been key in any concerted effort to discredit former ambassador Joe Wilson and his report on the Niger uranium story.

Buzzflash.com posts an email from an unnamed inside source saying, among other things, that the investigation has focused most closely on Vice President Cheney and his staff, as well as US Ambassador to the UN (and former undersecretary of state for arms control) John Bolton and his staff. We are told that eight indictments have already been prepared, with the possibility of another ten. These indictments include senior White House staff, most notably Vice President Cheney's chief of staff Scooter Libby, Fred Flights (special assistant to John Bolton), and—very surprisingly—National Security Adviser Steve Hadley. Apparently, Libby and Hadley have both been told by their lawyers to expect indictments. The indictment of senior Bush political advisor Karl Rove seems highly probable.

Here is a partial take on the rumors, Plamegate, and the legal fallout.

1. There is nothing surprising in a possible item about former Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley. Amid insinuations that counterterrorism expert Richard Clarke was miffed at being demoted to a deputy, few seemed to notice that the Bush White House security reshuffle actually promoted a group of deputies, including Hadley, who was deputy under Condoleezza Rice. The position of National Security Adviser itself was effectively vacant. Hadley, in contrast, was heavily invested in homeland security before coming to the White House. Along with his ties to Cheney, he was formerly on the board of ANSER, Inc, which founded a Homeland Security Institute back in 1999. Like Rice, Hadley was promoted in the aftermath of 9/11, which in a normal administration would not have brightened the resumes of anyone in the NSA office at the time. Needless to say, he was also key in boosting the Iraq invasion.

According to the message, in the past several days, former Secretary of State Colin Powell had a meeting with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), primarily about the McCain-sponsored amendment to the defense budget prohibiting torture (a bill that Powell has himself been lobbying heavily for, against the objections of President Bush). During the meeting, Powell recounted to the senator that he had traveled on Air Force One with Bush and Cheney, and brought to their attention a classified memorandum about the issue of whether there was indeed a transaction involving Niger and yellowcake uranium. The document included Ambassador Joe Wilson's involvement and identified his wife, Valerie Plame, as a covert agent. The memorandum further stated that this information was secret. Powell told McCain that he showed that memo only to two people—the President and Vice President. According to Powell, Cheney fixated on the Wilson/Plame connection and Plame's status. The ongoing legal ramifications here would explain why so little has been seen of Cheney lately.

2. Also from the message comes one interesting tidbit: a parade of senior Republican senators have evidently been privately pushing McCain to lobby to be Cheney's replacement. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has also been mentioned. Meanwhile, the White House has already been developing countermeasures—notably including senior White House officials privately voicing President Bush's disappointment in Karl Rove's involvement in the case, calling it “misconduct.” An urgent search for a Rove replacement is already underway.

3. Intriguing as this item is, presumably the White House will go to literally any lengths to keep a Cheney resignation from happening. McCain disappointed a nation by joining with Bush in the 2004 election, when he could have made a real difference. He has not opposed holding prisoners without telling them the charges against them, a practice that could not possibly enhance our national security. Even so, the tiny independence he has shown in supporting official limits on torture is sufficient to threaten the team in the White House. If GOP Congress members are lobbying for him, that would be another strike against him. Undoubtedly the White House would prefer to replace Cheney with Condoleezza Rice, who has been ingratiating herself with Bush. But either way, the situation is not a winner for the Bush team.

4. Speaking of which, if any significant portion of this information is valid, it strongly suggests that the Bush team has been diminished to its irreducible core of Bush himself, his White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, Karen Hughes, Harriet Miers, and a few of his relatives. This is their constituency, reduced to its true components, exactly where and what it should have been from the first, back when this quintessentially unqualified man started making little noises about running for the White House back in the late 1990s. Too bad they in effect bought off the mainstream media.

The last buffer for Bush still standing is the mainstream media, which have created a widespread public unawareness about much of what is going on.

5. With the Congress, parts of the GOP, the Project for a New American Century and now the Vice President peeled away from him, Bush has one remaining buffer. No, it is not the Christian right. Genuine fundamentalists have never effectively been in the picture with Bush, except in being successfully manipulated by the Bush team, and in being used as a bogeyman to scare writers, editors and producers, among others. The last buffer for Bush still standing is the mainstream media, which have created a widespread public unawareness about much of what is going on. The current fallout will be a race against time, with Washington insiders trying to piece together some version of the story that will pass muster with the public, and against Truth, the Daughter of Time.


Margie Burns, a college English instructor and freelance writer, resides in Maryland near Washington, DC. She may be reached at margie.burns@verizon.net.

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