A Level Gaze

"What effect must it have on a nation if it learns no foreign languages? Probably much the same as that which a total withdrawal from society has upon an individual."
--G.C. Lichtenberg


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Monday, September 29, 2003
Bush Won't Ask

President Bush's aides promised yesterday to cooperate with a Justice Department inquiry into an administration leak that exposed the identity of a CIA operative, but Democrats charged that the administration cannot credibly investigate itself and called for an independent probe.

White House officials said they would turn over phone logs if the Justice Department asked them to. But the aides said Bush has no plans to ask his staff members whether they played a role in revealing the name of an undercover officer who is married to former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, one of the most visible critics of Bush's handling of intelligence about Iraq.
(emphasis mine)

Uh...this isn't about finding out who dragged in all that mud from the T-ball field; those leaks were felonies. If a body were found in the White House, and the Washington Post wrote that "two senior Administration officials" were responsible, would it be acceptable for Bush not to ask his staff who was behind it?

I think Bush is hiding behind a very tenuous legal tactic. As Atrios points out, failing to notify law enforcement authorities of a known felony is a crime. I believe the tactic is as follows: Bush will claim to know nothing about the whole affair, but if it does come out that he was aware of Plame's outing, he can then claim that he didn't know who, specifically, did the deed. In this way, it could be said that he knew about a felony, but not these particular felonies, where Person A and Person B called those 6 reporters and gave them classified information.

I don't know the legalese, but it seems a pretty flimsy defense, at best. Besides, what rational administration is going to let something like this fester within its ranks until it blows up? If some overzealous staffers had decided on their own to leak Plame's status, every lawyer in the country would have told Bush to dump them immediately. I'm sure several of them did just that, which makes WH reticence since the appearance of Novak's article very curious indeed.

Given such a huge potential liability, one that threatened to directly affect the president himself, I'm sure the shrewd political operators in the WH found out in short order who had done the leaking. But they didn't follow up on it. It's as though they'd hit a brick wall. Many people in the administration knew that felonies had been committed, which knowledge, when combined with inaction, is criminal. Why would they just stand out there in the open and wait to get hit?

Because they're even more afraid of the consequences of going to the authorities, that's why. Who in the administration is badass enough to radiate that kind of menace?

Sunday, September 28, 2003
Song Of Joy

Valerie Plame is her name
And she worked for the C.I.A.
Till someone gave up the game
And blew her cover away.

They started a war in Iraq
With bullshit and bogus "facts"
They blew our kids and budget to hell
It's a time I remember oh so well

The night they drove old Dubya down
And all the bells were ringing
The night they drove old Dubya down
And all the people were singing
We went, "Na na na na na naaaa
Na na na na na na na na"

(Additional verses welcome!)

Apologies to J. Robbie Robertson

Sunday, September 07, 2003
Just Wondering

How is the unification of all those federal agencies into Homeland Security going? I read a lot about what a big, complex, and expensive project it was going to be when the plan was unveiled, and I haven't seen a peep since. Has anybody heard anything on this front lately?

Friday, September 05, 2003
You've got to be kidding me

At long last, the Bush administration has started to moderate its policies on Iraq. They're appealing to other nations to help stabilize the country, and have even begun to crack on allowing those who would send their soldiers into harm's way to have a bit of input as to how they're used.

This, and a few developments like it, are welcome signs of sanity from our leadership, but Rumsfeld & Co. still have a long way to go.

This week, international experts enlisted by the American-led occupation authorities estimated that the loss of oil revenues and cost of operating a civilian government in Iraq is projected at $20 billion for 2004.

That figure was given to diplomats from potential donor nations in Brussels this week, and by all accounts they were stunned.

"Think of it this way," said an official familiar with the Brussels session. "You'd be putting more than a third of the world's development assistance in 2004 into a country with the second largest oil reserves in the world. Imagine what that does to the rest of the poor countries in the world. All of Africa doesn't get that much money."

This official said the United States would have to "dramatically trim" its requests and put up a huge sum to goad other nations into donating.

But a senior administration official said: "We expect billions of dollars out of the rest of the world. Billions."
Am I reading this right? We make a tragic, bloody mess of a country against their objections, and now we ask them to put their sons and daughters into the firing line to fix our mistake and pay for the privilege to boot? Ain't gonna happen. It'd be pure political suicide.

As if our offer could be any worse, who would ultimately be receiving a big chunk of these contributions? Halliburton and Bechtel, the same American companies that lobbied to keep all foreign competition out. And many of the jobs these two will be doing could be done by locals at a fraction of the cost.

If I were a European, I'd be sputtering with rage at the sheer gall of such a request.

Try again, fellas.

Update: Billmon has more.