Lies and Damned Lies

The three stories coming out of D.C. today are:

  • The guilty verdict of Scooter Libby, senior adviser to President Bush, and the implications of lies and crimes around and above him;
  • The unprecedented firings of 8 US Attorney and the hearings in both the Senate and the House strongly suggesting improper political interference and firings resulting from that;
  • The Walter Reed Army Hospital hearings on years of mis-treatment of wounded veterans.

All three are 3.2 political quakes. Any one of them could be a precursor to a full scale, White House collapsing, 8.2 quake.


The firings of the US Attorneys
seems most likely to me to be on a significant fault line, and most likely to pop with as yet unseen revelations, cascading document dumps and investigatory land slides. Yet it is relatively buried in the news today.

Six fired U.S. attorneys testified on Capitol Hill yesterday that they had separately been the target of complaints, improper telephone calls and thinly veiled threats from a high-ranking Justice Department official or members of Congress, both before and after they were abruptly removed from their jobs.

This Washington Post article says page A01, but it’s way back in the Times and on page 3 of the Chronicle. A second day of hearings is going on today. Whether it has the power I think it might will depend on follow up, more exposure and likely, the interest of some or all of the fired Attorneys to pursue a remedy. The Democrats need to keep up the pressure but if it was a purge, as it looks, some new, aggrieved faces, like Attorneys Carol Lam and David Yglesias should be up on the posters, not the usual mug shots from Congress.

The Hospital hearings seem less an earthquake of explosive power than one to produce slow and massive flows of belief away from any and all claims by the administration. The people affected by the sub-standard care, the crowding, the mold, the interminable waits and paperwork, are the ordinary folks, non-Beltway people, whose stories are not filled with high-price lawyers, daily news conferences and inscrutable claims but grief, pain and suffering. If these stories are told, and absorbed by enough people, neighbors and friends of the wounded, support for Bush and his follies will disappear even in the last bastions of belief.

You can always count on someone though, a Republican for example, to claim it’s just more politics!

As to the Libby verdict, I don’t know what to think. In a way, after a loud yelp of relief that the jury followed the facts and not the assertions, it feels a bit anti-climactic. Those of us who have followed the news are full up with the personalities, the contending narratives, the multiple facts. When the verdict comes down and it’s as though the last page of the detective novel reveals everything we already know, we are inclined to wonder, were we had? How was this a mystery?

On the other hand many folks don’t follow this kind of story very closely at all: no sex, no screen celebrity, no murder — no fun. So the cable news reporting and this morning’s headlines may be actual news to them. Who’s this guy Scooter Libby, and what did he do?

Here’s where the take-away matters. If the snapshot people get is that an aide to the Vice President lied, it may be disappear with yesterday’s meal; not to be recalled forever. If, on the other hand, the image is a nice 8 x 10 glossy … that a senior adviser to the President was convicted of four felonies, that he lied repeatedly — to the FBI, and to the Grand Jury — with the knowledge of the president and vice-president, maybe it will be stuck up on memory’s wall, and the foundations of faith begin to slip.

If it’s true that In Public’s Mind, White House is Guilty, as Marc Sandalow writes for the SF Chronicle, then the verdict will have detonated.

A good summary by Glen Greenwald at Salon may help sharpen your line standing talking points, helping to make it all too clear.

Today’s event sends a potent and unmistakable message, one that is absolutely reverberating in the West Wing: If Libby can be convicted of multiple felonies, then any Bush official who has committed crimes can be as well. Not only are Bush officials subject to the rule of law (their radical theories of executive power to the contrary notwithstanding), they are also vulnerable to legal consequences (the defeatist beliefs of some Bush critics notwithstanding). Having the nation watch this powerful Bush official be declared a criminal — despite having been defended by the best legal team money can buy — resoundingly reaffirms the principle that our highest political officials can and must be held accountable when they break the law.

Greenwald on Felon Libby

The right wing is busy spinning it as much ado about nothing of course, starting with an editorial in the Washington Post by Fred Hiatt — a pointless scandal.

There is other news, of course, and I don’t blame you if you want to stretch your neck a bit and look around. FireDogLake has some familiar themes to orient you.

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