Water Man Spouts

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

We Hold These Truths

{1} "As pointed out by thoughtful students of history, one must not be distracted by the 'how' of an event but instead should on the 'who' and the 'why.' Accumulate the facts, though often contradictory, then concentrate on the overall process by which these events transpired. .... Who had the means, the motive, and the opportunity -- not only to devise such attacks, but to circumvent normal security measures and hinder any objective investigation?"
-- Jim Marrs; The Terror Conspiracy; page X
Those who have taken an interest in the Plame scandal are eagerly anticipating the arrival of "Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War" to their local bookstores. Recent articles in Newsweek and The Nation have confirmed that Richard Armitage was one of Robert Novak's sources, and "what Valerie Plame really did at the CIA." The authors, Newsweek's Michael Isikoff and The Nation's David Corn, have provided some of the essential reporting on the case over the past three years.
In a discussion of an article about Armitage, a friend said to me, "I just hope that Isikoff tells the whole truth about the scandal." Now, that is an interesting proposition. Will Isikoff and Corn tell the whole story? Indeed, could they? I do not think so, although I do not believe that lessens the value of the book. In fact, it may add to it.
When we consider two scandals that most citizens are familiar with, Watergate and Iran-Contra, the reasons may become clearer. In both cases, most Americans are aware of the "central" crimes that these scandals exposed. Yet both were far larger than the central crimes that were the substance of televised hearings and best-selling books.
Large criminal conspiracies are always compartmentalized. Even those at the highest levels tend to get their information on a "need to know" basis. This allows those questioned in any potential investigation to honestly say they do not know much about other people's roles, and more, it prevents almost anyone "turned" by investigators from being able to expose the larger criminal conspiracy.
It is worth examining how this tactic, used by "organized crime," evolved from the Watergate era to the Iran-Contra crimes. In Watergate, even with talented, serious investigator and several co-conspirators who became cooperative witnesses, there was no one investigation that revealed the "whole truth about the scandal."
We have to examine the grand jury investigation, including the work of the two Special Prosecutors, Archibald Cox and Leon Jaworski; the work of Peter Rodino Jr.'s House Judiciary Committee; and the Senate Watergate Committe, led by Sam Ervin. There is no single book that reveals the whole truth about the scandal: even Woodward and Bernstein's interpretation of Watergate demands that one reads two equally important books, "All the President's Men" and "The Final Days."
In Watergate, the various investigations were somewhat coordinated, and resulted in a number of the participants in the conspiracy being convicted for their crimes. Though certainly not flawless, the effort helped the country recognize the threat that Nixon's "Imperial Presidency" posed to our democracy. It helped reestablish the practice of separation of federal powers defined by the U.S. Constitution.
The series of crimes known as "Iran-Contra" posed many of the same threats to the separation of powers in our federal government. Not surprisingly, this larger conspiracy -- which was played out on a global stage -- involved many of the people who were associated with the right-wing of the Nixon administration. The investigations of the crimes were not coordinated, and this was one of the reasons that the majority of those involved in the conspiracy evaded justice. Another reason was that those running the conspiracy had learned the importance of compartmentalization from the Watergate affair.

{2} "Stability is an unworthy American mission, and a misleading concept to boot. We do not want stability in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and even Saudi Arabia; we want things to change. The real issue is not whether, but how to destabilize. ... Creative destruction is our middle name, both within our society and abroad. .... we must destroy them to advance our historic mission."
-- Michael Ledeen; The War Against the Terror Masters
Since the beginning of the Plame scandal, Ambassador Joseph Wilson has stated that it is part of a larger threat to our democracy. It is impossible to consider the "who," the "how," and the "why" of the Plame scandal without placing it in the context of the administration's efforts to bring our nation to war in Iraq. And the Iraqi invasion was part of the larger neoconservative agenda for the Middle East.
The neoconservatives were frustrated when the first President Bush refused to occupy Iraq in the first Gulf War. In 1992, a document that Barton Gellman of the Washington Post called "a classified blueprint intended to help 'set the nation's direction for the next century' " was leaked from the office of assistant secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz. He had prepared the 46-page memo, with the help of his deputy, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, for Dick Cheney. Among other things, the document called for a permanent American military presence on six contenents to prevent any "potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role."
The neoconservative plan for the Middle East is further documented in the "Clean Break" policy paper that Doug Feith, Richard Perle, and David Wurmser prepared for Benjamin Netanyahu, and in the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) call for President Clinton to back their agenda in Iraq. Central to the neoconservatives' plans was Ahmed Chalabi, the head of the "Iraqi National Congress."
Chalabi was born into a Shiite Muslim family with close ties the monarchy that ruled Iraq. He fled the country at the age of 14. He would become a student of Albert Wohlsetter, who would introduce him to both Perle and Wolfowitz. Chalabi enjoyed the trust of the leaders of the neoconservative movement, despite his conviction for embezzlement in Jordan. He was considered untrustworthy by many in the American intelligence community, especially in the CIA.
In his article "What Valerie Plame Really Did at the CIA," David Corn notes that the Agency's Joint Task Force on Iraq members found no evidence of WMD production in Iraq when the Bush2 administration was preparing to remove Saddam from power. "JTFI officials came to suspect that some (defectors) had been sent their way by Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress, an exile group that desired a US invasion of Iraq," Corn writes.
In "The Stovepipe" (The New Yorker), Seymour Hersch had in 2003 wrote, "Chalabi's defector reports were now flowing from the Pentagon directly to the Vice-President's office, and then on to the President, with little prior evaluation by intelligence professionals." The significance of this grows when we consider part of James Bamford's "Iran: The Next War" (Rolling Stone), where he writes, "On May 20th, shortly after the discovery of the leak, Iraqi police backed by American soldiers raided Chalabi's home and offices in Baghdad. The FBI suspected that Chalabi, a Shiite who had a luxurious villa in Tehran and was close to senior Iranian officials, was actually working as a spy for the Shiite government in Iran. Getting the U.S. to invade Iraq was apparently part of a plan to install a pro-Iranian Shiite government in Baghdad, with Chalabi in charge. The bureau also suspected that Chalabi's intelligence chief had furnished Iran with highly classified information on U.S. troop movements, top-secret communications, plans of the provisional government and other closely guarded materials on U.S. operations in Iraq. On the night of the raid, The CBS Evening News carried an exclusive report by correspondent Lesley Stahl that the U.S. government had 'rock-solid' evidence that Chalabi had been passing extremely sensitive intelligence to Iran -- evidence so sensitive that it could 'get Americans killed'."
Bamford was detailing the neocon-AIPAC spy scandal in that article. It is important for us to recognize that the neocon-AIPAC spy scandal, and the Niger forgeries scandal as well, are parts of the larger criminal conspiracy that includes the Plame scandal. They are evidence of the compartmentalization of activities that makes it difficult for any one investigation to uncover the "whole truth."

{3} Rep. Boggs: "Let's say (someone) .... was recruited by someone in the CIA. The man who recruited him would know, wouldn't he?"
Allen Dulles: "Yes, but he wouldn't tell."
Chairman Warren: "Wouldn't tell it under oath?"
Dulles: "I wouldn't think he would tell it under oath, no .... He ought not tell it under oath. Maybe not tell it to his own government ...."
McCloy: "Wouldn't he tell it to his own chief?"
Dulles: "He might or might not."
-- January 22, 1964 Warren Commission session transcript made public in 1975.
James Mann, in "Rise of the Vulcans," notes that Richard Armitage's military record doesn't tell the whole story of his service in Vietnam. Mann writes that he took part in "some of the grittiest, most secretive operations of the war." Some of the people close to him believe that Armitage was part of the Phoenix program, which was run by the CIA. Others are less sure what connection Armitage had with US intelligence operations in Vietnam. It appears that even 30 years later, Dick Armitage has not disclosed exactly what he did, even to some of his closest associates.
In "Plan of Attack," Bob Woodward notes that "Armitage decided to insert himself somewhat dramatically into the Time's developing story and protect Powell's flank by speaking on the record." Woodward gives a few examples of Armitage's talent in manipulating the news media, generally in an attempt to counter some of the agenda being pushed by Scooter Libby. Woodward also states that Armitage "wasn't enthusiastic about Chalabi."
In the recent reports concerning Armitage being a source for Novak and Woodward, regarding valerie Plame's identity, it has been said that Dick is known as "something of a gossip." This is something that comes from his association with the Iran-Contra scandals, when he "explained" his participation as being merely a result of his enjoying "gossiping" with others. Although no one believed it then, today the reports that Mr. Armitage is prone to gossip is accepted as fact by many in the corporate media.
Armitage's known role in the Plame scandal centers upon the State Department report, produced at the request of Scooter Libby, concerning Joseph Wilson's 2002 trip to Niger. A couple versions of the report were made public earlier this year. One, which is dated July 7, 2003, appears to be what the public has been told was passed around members of the administration after Wilson's New York Times op-ed was printed. The other is dated June 10, 2003. On page 4 it notes, "Meeting apparently convened by Valerie Wilson, a CIA WMD managerial type and the wife of Amb. Joe Wilson, with the idea that the agency and the larger USG could dispatch Joe to Niger to use his contacts there to sort out the Niger/Iraq uranium sale question. Joe went to Niger in late 1999 in regard to Niger's uranium program, apparently with CIA support."
In the "What Valerie Plame Really Did..." article, Corn notes that Valerie had served the agency in Athens, where she had "posed as a State Department employee." This is a common practice for Agency employees, as it provides the protection of diplomatic immunity. Later in her career, she would work in the most clandestine role, as a NOC. "They do not pretend to work for the US government," Corn writes, "They might claim to be a businessperson."
Dick Armitage would certainly have recognized the significance of Ambassador Wilson's 1999 trip to Niger, "apparently with CIA support." Surely Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby would, as well. One might speculate on if Armitage spoke with Woodward and Novak in support of the OVP, or in opposition to them, but it seems rather unlikely that it was merely gossip.

{4} Question: Would you oppose a congressional investigation into the leak of Valerie Plame's identity? And if not, would you be willing to cooperate with such an investigation by handing over the work product of your investigation?
Fitzgerald: ... There are strict rules about grand jury secrecy if there were an investigation. And, frankly, I have to pull the book out and get the people smarter than me about grand jury rules in Chicago and sit down and tell me how it works. My gut instinct is that we do not -- very, very rarely is grand jury information shared with the Congress. ....
I think what people may be confused about is that reports used to be issued by independent counsels. ... That statute has lapsed. I'm not an independent counsel, and I don't have the authority to write a report ..."
-- Patrick Fitzgerald's press conference; 10-28-05
It has been reported that in October of 2003, after reading a Robert Novak article, Richard Armitage concluded that he was one of the two sources Novak had mentioned in his previous article exposing Valerie Plame's identity. After contacting Colin Powell, Armitage spoke to the FBI agents investigating the leak. Their investigation continued, and what they found resulted in Patrick Fitzgerald's being assigned to the case two months later. Mr. Fitzgerald was aware of Armitage's story, but did not choose to make him a target.
Two years later, when Bob Woodward's role in the scandal was exposed, Armitage apparently spoke to Mr. Fitzgerald. Again, no charges resulted from that incident.
In pre-trial motions, Team Libby has requested documentation concerning Woodward's source. Judge Walton has ruled it is not material to Scooter's case. It is possible that the OVP has considered using information on Armitage to try to take the focus off of the criminal activities of both Scooter Libby and Dick Cheney. If so, the book by Corn and Isikoff may have done those who want to see justice in this case a real favor.
In "The Final Days," authors Woodward and Bernstein told of Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworskigoing to see Judge Sirica, to say that the grand jury had named Richard Nixon as an unindicted co-conspirator in the plot to obstruct justice. "You can expect a report from the grand jury," he told Sirica. "The grand jury wants the report to be sent to the House Judiciary Committee. It pertains to the President."
At this point, we know that Mr. Fitzgerald has indicted Scooter Libby in the Plame scandal. And, from the pre-trial documents which have become part of the public record, we know that VP Dick Cheney was involved in daily discussions with Libby regarding how to respond to Ambassador Joseph Wilson.
It is uncertain what future actions -- if any -- that Mr. Fitzgerald may take, beyond convicting Libby for his part in the criminal conspiracy. But just as in the days of Nixon's being identified as a co-conspirator, there is significant evidence that VP Cheney violated the law. And, just as Watergate required the coordinated efforts of all three branches of the federal government to achieve justice, this case does, too.
Citizens should be pressing the case for members of the House and Senate to initiate investigations into the lies that brought our nation to war in Iraq, including the Plame scandal. VP Cheney should be impeached. With the war in Iraq being recognized as being built on a foundation of lies, and with Cheney's approval rating being under 20%, democrats are indeed in a position to move on this. It is as important today as it was in the Watergate era.

{5} "We Americans all too often take for granted the luxury of living and benefiting from the rights and freedoms guarenteed by our constitution. Several actions undertaken by this administration serve as a reminder that the social contract that binds us is fragile and requires our vigorous protection if we ever hope to preserve it. We have known this since the time of the drafting of the constitution over two hundred years ago when Benjamin Franklin remarked that the founding fathers had bequeathed to the nation 'a republic, if you can keep it'."
-- Ambassador Joseph Wilson
Joseph and Valerie Wilson filed a civil suit against Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, and "John Does No. 1-10" in US District Court on July 13, 2006. This case holds the potential to complete the investigation in all three branches of the federal government: Mr. Fitzgerald, through the Department of Justice, acts on behalf of the executive branch; the House and Senate are, of course, the legislative branch; and the civil case brings in the judiciary.
Let us consider the situation with Armitage. On August 22, AP writers Matt Apuzzo and John Solomon reported, "Plame considering suing Armitage." They quoted the Wilson's attorney Melanie Sloan as saying, "I think maybe Armitage was in on it. The question is just what was Armitage's role?"
On August 31, Byron York whined that the Wilsons would likely not sue Armitage. He quoted Ms. Sloan as saying that "it doesn't look at this point that Armitage was party" to the effort to damage the Wilsons, and that his role "is really not the same as the concerted effort that Cheney, Rove, and Libby made to get Valerie's undercover identity out to the newspaper."
Melanie Sloan is a very talented attorney. She hasn't closed the door on Dick Armitage. It seems very likely that her team will depose Mr. Armitage, to find out what he knows about the OVP/WHIG/OSP effort to damage Joseph and Valerie Wilson. Before becoming the executive director of CREW (Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington), shewas an aide to John Conyers and Charles Schumer.
Readers who are interested in investing in the civil suit against Cheney, Rove, and Libby are encouraged to contribute to their Legal Support Trust. We cannot afford to take for granted those rights guarenteed by our Constitution. We cannot allow a criminal conspiracy centered in the Office of the Vice President to trash the separation of powers. Please consider contributing today. For more information, see:


At September 17, 2006 at 8:40 PM, Blogger Richard said...

Dear H2O man

I have always been a fan of your writing at DU.

Chris Floyd (Moscow Times) and I (from Empire Burlesque) are launching a news site at www.atlanticfreepress.com and were wondering if you would be interested in contributing. We are planning to publish original material from some dissident writers such as Paul William Roberts - Rod Amis - Walter Brasch - Neal Romanek - William Bowles - Weldon Berger - Craig Murray - Art James - Bryan Lee - Kevin Harris - Doug Mitchell - Manuel Valenzeula - Chris Cook, Ingmar Lee, Mike Whitney, Jason Leopold and others

The system would allow for each writer to contribute when they want using a WYSIWYG editor on the Open Source Joomla platform. On one hand one needs to be net savvy enough to get their own work online, on the other, it offers some independence and the opportunity for each writer to exercise more control over their own copy.

The significant difference we will bring to the fray is to become a recognized google news source ( Empire Burlesque already is...) and provide a counterview to the MSM on a level playing field. Too much dissident literature is being buried as the stigma of busy websites named "The Smirking Chimp" etc. keeps them out of Googlenews and therefore far from a new audience.

If you are interested let me know and I will set up an author's account.


Richard Kastelein

At September 24, 2006 at 2:49 PM, Blogger Patrick O'Waterman said...

I e-mailed you last week. Hope to get a response.


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