Friday, October 28, 2005

Blood in the Water

The CIA leak case has gone from the ridiculous to the sublime.

With the predicted indictment of Scooter Libby not yet announced, the Looney Left smells blood in the water and the feeding frenzy has begun. An obvious place to go for an inspection of the Looney Left's thinking is the blog of my favorite hysteric, Katrina Vanden Heuvel. And what does dearest Katrina have to say about the matter? Well, in her opinion, now is the time to expand the investigation to include...*drumroll please*...the Administration's rationale for war.

But of course.

Katrina writes of the Democratic Congressional caucus' discussions of such an expansion and supports it.

"The CIA leak issue is only the tip of the iceberg," Congressman Jerry Nadler told me when I ran into him on the street near our offices on Friday afternoon. He was quick to tell me of a call--led by Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) and Nadler, along with 39 of their House colleagues--for Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation to be expanded to examine whether the White House--President, Vice-President, and members of the WH's Iraq War Group--conspired to deliberately deceive Congress into authorizing the war. And, as Nadler reminded me, lying to Congress is a crime under several federal statutes.

The MSM has now picked up on the thread and it appears this is where things are heading. On what legal basis could Patrick Fitzgerald move from a specific investigation regarding an asserted attempt to smear Joseph Wilson for the yellowcake story to an overall questioning of the case for war? In my opinion, none. If such an expansion does take place, I believe that this will be yet another special prosecutor run amok. The question before Fitzgerald was whether there was a coordinated attempt to reveal a CIA agent's identity, not whether the president lied about Saddam's weapons programs. However, for critics the Wilson case has always been a proxy fight about the the administration's WMD case. In recent weeks, Bush opponents have begun a parallel effort to re-examine the forged documents which formed the basis for the administration's Niger-yellowcake claims. If Fitzgerald really does move in this direction, I believe it will be in response to the masturbatory fantasies of the unhinged Lefties who perpetually over-shoot the mark. In this case, we are talking about ONE pre-war which the President has already suggested should not have made it into his 2003 State of the Union address. He's already taken the heat for that. Moreover, according to the Butler Report, the claim was not wholly based on the forgeries which emerged in Italy. Are we just going to continue to ignore this point as reported last year in the Financial Times?

The claim that the illicit export of uranium was under discussion was widely dismissed when letters referring to the sales - apparently sent by a Nigerien official to a senior official in Saddam Hussein's regime - were proved by the International Atomic Energy Agency to be forgeries. This embarrassed the US and led the administration to reverse its earlier claim.But European intelligence officials have for the first time confirmed that information provided by human intelligence sources during an operation mounted in Europe and Africa produced sufficient evidence for them to believe that Niger was the centre of a clandestine international trade in uranium.Officials said the fake documents, which emerged in October 2002 and have been traced to an Italian with a record for extortion and deception, added little to the picture gathered from human intelligence and were only given weight by the Bush administration.

That said, why should Fitzgerald even embark on such a course? As Christopher Hitchens wrote in July, this is a non-storm in an un-teacup. The Butler inquiry addressed these issues in Britain and although it focused on the Blair government's case for war and the "sexed up dossier" it did result in examinations of American intelligence and coalition claims. The 9-11 Commission concluded that elements of Joe Wilson's original NYT op/ed were suspect at best. The Commission on Pre-War Intelligence further addressed the efforts of the American intelligence community in the run-up to the war. And Congress has agreed that a second inquiry, dubbed "Phase II," would address the use of intelligence by the Administration in building the case for war. It's fair to say that that process has not gotten off the ground, but it is in the works. Thus it seems to me that there have been significant investigations of the WMD claims and that Phase II will address the issue in greater detail in the future. So why is Fitzgerald's expansion either justified or necessary?

In my opinion, if the reported extension of the grand jury does take place, such an expansion is very possible. And in my mind, provides yet another example of why these special prosecutors are inherently bad. Should this be the course of action, America will be dragged through another Clintonian year of speculation, talking heads, divisiveness and a weakened, paralyzed presidency. Under a special prosecutor and the secrecy of a grand jury chamber the American people get none of the transparency and all of the speculative, witch-hunt atmoshere which to me seems deeply anti-democratic and actually conterproductive. It's nothing short of unhealthy. In these cases, does the investigation drive the media frenzy? Does the frenzy influence the investigation? Or is there some twisted symbiotic relationship? I vote for the latter.

If we really want to investigate the administration's pre-war claims--and I have long though that would be a worthwhile endeavor--then don't the American people deserve full transparency? Shouldn't Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney, George Tenet, Paul Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfeld be in front of the cameras along with Sandy Berger, Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Judy Miller, David Kay, Richard Butler, Ken Pollack, Scott Ritter and others? If we want accountability shouldn't it be full accountability? Or is this just a way to extract a pound of political flesh and a way to drive advertising revenue? Buckle up. This is going to suck.

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