Water Man Spouts

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Impeach Dick Cheney

Impeach Dick Cheney: Part 1

{A} Introduction

"The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury …."
--Article III, Section 2; US Constitution

In "The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’Neill," author Ron Suskind tells of the Bush2 administration’s first National Security Council’s first meeting. On January 30, 2001, President Bush spoke about his plans to change the foreign policy of the United States in regard to the Middle East. (pages 70-72) "Getting Hussein was now the administration’s focus, that much was clear," Suskind quotes O’Neill as saying .(page 75)

The US war of occupation in Iraq has been based on the actions of numerous people within the Bush2 administration. This paper will focus on the role of one official in particular: Vice President Dick Cheney. The long political career of Dick Cheney is well known: he served in Washington as part of the Nixon and Ford administrations, and was closely connected to the Reagan and Bush1 administrations. It is interesting to note that Cheney had been opposed to occupying Iraq during the first Gulf War:

" ‘I was not an enthusiast about getting US forces and going into Iraq,’ Cheney later said. ‘We were there in the southern part of Iraq to the extent we needed to be there to defeat his forces and get him out of Kuwait, but the idea of going into Baghdad, for example, or trying to topple the regime wasn’t anything I was enthusiastic about. I felt there was a real danger here that you would get bogged down in a long drawn-out conflict, that this was a dangerous, difficult part of the world.’ Sounding like a determined foreign policy pragmatist, Cheney said that Americans needed to accept that ‘Saddam is just one more irratant, but there’s a long list of irritants in that part of the world.’ To actually invade Iraq, he said, ‘I don’t think would have been worth it’." (Fiasco; Thomas Ricks; pages 6-7.)

This paper will examine what changed Dick Cheney’s mind about invading Iraq between the first Gulf War and the first Bush2 NSC meeting, and then focuses on the role that VP Cheney played in selling the invasion and occupation of Iraq to congress and the American people. This will be done in a manner that explains three of the charges that VP Cheney should be impeached by congress.

In order to understand and fully appreciate the process of impeachment, people should read the 1974 House Judiciary Committee’s report on the Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment. On November 15, 1973, as a result of several resolutions calling for the impeachment of President Nixon had been introduced in the House of Representatives, the Speaker referred them to the Judiciary Committee for consideration, investigation, and a report.

The legal staff’s report takes a close look at the history and legal issues involved in impeachment. It is important to understand that the process of impeachment, in the House and then Senate, is a civil trial. The phrase "high crimes and misdemeanors" is an archaic phrase that implies abuses of power. These abuses can be violations of criminal law. But it can also include abuses of power that are not violations of the criminal laws, much as the Joseph and Valerie Wilson civil suit attempted to hold Cheney et al responsible for abuses of power. In dismissing their case, Federal Judge Bates voiced his opinion that their suit raised important Constitutional questions, but that his court lacked jurisdiction.

The Congress of the United States has the needed jurisdiction to try VP Dick Cheney. He should face the consequences for abuses of power that include violations of 18 USC, Section 1001 and Section 371, which as noted in Rep. Maurice Hinchey’s September 15, 2005 letter to Patrick Fitzgerald, involve the false and fraudulent misrepresentation to the congress and the public the "immediate threat" that Iraq posed to the United States. More, as in Article 2 of the articles of impeachment to be brought against Richard Nixon, Vice President Cheney engaged in a campaign against Joseph Wilson on political grounds, in which he is guilty of gross abuses of the power of his office.

{B} Cheney’s Transition

"While I was meeting with Saddam, Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney was in Saudi Arabia showing the rulers of the kingdom satellite photos of the Iraqi troop deployment throughout Kuwait, close to its southern border with Saudi Arabia and not far from the fabulously lucrative eastern Saudi oil fields." – The Politics of Truth; Joseph Wilson; page 126.

In 1992, two Cheney aides, Paul Wolfowitz and I. Lewis Libby, prepared a document titled "Defense Planning Guidance," that called for an expanded US military presence around the world in the next century. It called for a "permanent US military presence on six continents to deter any ‘potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role’." Though the plan was shelved then, it would be resurrected a decade later in an official Bush document, The National Security Strategy of the United States." (Where the Right Went Wrong; Patrick Buchanan; pages 42-44)

In the years following his role in the Bush1 administration, Dick Cheney would, among other things, serve as a "senior fellow" in the conservative American Enterprise Institute. (Hubris; David Corn & Michael Isikoff; page 51) He would also be aomong the signers of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) founding statement, along with Wolfowitz and Libby. (ibid; page 78)

PNAC would send a letter to President Clinton, urging him to attack Iraq to insure that Saddam did not acquire WMD, and to protect "the safety of American troops in the region, of our friends and allies like Israel and the moderate Arab states, and a significant portion of the world’s supply of oil …."

Just as Paul O’Neill notes in The Price of Loyalty, the authors of Hubris make clear that the Bush administration is focused on "when," rather than "if," it will attack Iraq and remove Saddam from power. (page 11) Suskind notes that in mid-August of 2002, VP Cheney spoke to Iraqi dissidents in exile, and assured them that the United States was going to remove Saddam.
Although it is well-documented that the forces in the administration, led by Cheney, were advocating an attack on Iraq from well before September 11, 2001, that day’s events would be hijacked in the effort to convince the congress and public that Saddam posed a threat to our national security.

{C} The Office of the Vice President

"They call themselves, self-mockingly, the Cabal – a small cluster of policy advisors and analysts ….who began their work in the days after September 11, 2001, (producing) a skein of intelligence reviews that have helped to shape public opinion and American policy towards Iraq. They relied on data gathered by other intelligence agencies and also on information provided by Ahmed Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress. By the fall of 2002, the operation rivaled both the CIA and the Pentagon’s own Defense Intelligence Agency, the DIA, as President Bush’s main source of intelligence regarding Iraq’s possible stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction and connection with Al Qaeda."
--Chain of Command; Seymour Hersh; pages 207-208.

In his book Losing America, Senator Robert Byrd tells of how in the hours after the 9/11 attacks, VP Cheney instituted the "continuity of government" plans, which had been prepared during the Cold War, in case of a nuclear attack on the US. The "shadow government" combined executive branch officials and business leaders, and not only did not include either other branch of the federal government, but was placed beyond any congressional review.

In the summer of 2002, the OVP helped to institute two other new groups. The first was the White House Iraq Group, which consisted of officials who would coordinate the information provided to the public to sell the war in Iraq. Scooter Libby was among its members. The second group was the Office of Special Plans, an intelligence group that was run out of the Pentagon, but with cells in the State Department and other areas of the federal government. (A Pretext for War; James Bamford; pages 318-319) The OSP was also set-up to serve as VP Cheney’s "parallel national security office" and had no congressional oversight. (Wilson; pages 432-434)

VP Cheney was recognized as being in charge of the administration’s pre-war intelligence. (Plan of Attack; Bob Woodward; page 29) Cheney put Libby in charge of his " ‘shadow’ National Security Council." (Corn & Isikoff; page 5) In Fiasco, Thomas Ricks identifies Cheney, Libby, and Wolfowitz as being among the administration hawks who were intent upon attacking Iraq. (page 51) They engaged in activities that were geared only to support their pre-determined decision to identify information that justified attacking Iraq. In Chain of Command, Hersch describes the way that "intelligence" was stove-piped both from the OSP to the OVP, and thus to the Oval Office. (pages 207, 227-228)

Bob Woodward describes how David Kay, "one of the world’s foremost experts on nuclear weapons inspections," worked with US intelligence and the United Nations to attempt to evaluate possible Iraqi WMD programs. (State of Denial; page 213) Both Cheney and Libby would attempt to influence Kay’s work. He told Woodward that he was "astounded" by the vice president’s attempt to use raw intelligence to bolster his position. (page 238) Libby called Kay to tell him that Cheney wanted him to examine "intelligence" provided by Manucher Ghorbanifar, who was associated with Oliver North’s criminal activities in the Iran-contra scandal. Kay told Woodward that the Cheney-Libby efforts reminded him of the novel The Da Vinci Code. (pages 259-260)

In "Plan of Attack," Woodward had compared Cheney’s isolation to that of Howard Hughes. (page 419) He noted that despite opposition to his opinion, "Cheney thought it wouldn’t matter in the end. It would be noise to history as long as they were successful in what they were trying to do. Outcomes matter." (page 429) As former federal prosecutor Elizabeith de la Vega has noted, CEOs engaged in fraud are often confident that "everything will turn out okay in the end." It is not a legal defense to charges of fraud.

{D} The OVP vs the CIA (Part 2)

"The tensions between the White House and the CIA had been rising steadily in the months before the Iraqi invasion, as CIA analysts complained about evidence being distorted or ignored and the White House pushed back with complaints about the quality of the intel they were getting. ‘I know the analyst who was subjected to withering questioning on the Iraq—al-Qaeda links by Libby with the Vice President sitting there,’ says a CIA analyst. ‘So I think there was an anger at the CIA for not getting it and not being on board." – The Rove Problem; TIME; Nancy Gibbs; 7-25-05; page 29.

Woodward describes when Saul, the chief of the CIA’s Iraqi Operations, explained to Cheney some of the difficulties associated with the bifurcated approach the administration was taking on Iraq: on one hand, they spoke publicly about negotiations and containment, but in private, they had assured a number of people, including the Saudis and Jordanians, that they were definitely taking Saddam out. "They needed a single national policy that everyone supported and explained the same way." (Plan of Attack; pages 72-73)

The result is found in a footnote on page 230 of Hubris: "In an earlier interview with a Vanity Fair writer on May 10, Wolfowitz said, ‘For reasons that have a lot to do with US government bureaucracy we settled on the one issue (to justify the war) that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason…."

Isikoff and Corn tell about Cheney’s frequent visits to the CIA headquarters. He would "park himself in Director George Tenet’s seventh-floor conference room. Then officers and analysts would be summoned" to brief him. (page 3) Cheney and Libby were focused on two issues in particular: Iraqi WMD programs, and ties to al Qaeda. They "were never satisfied and continually asked for more. ‘It was like they were hoping we’d find something buried in the files or come back with some different answer,’ Michael Sulick, deputy chief of the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, later said." (pages 4-5)

In time, word leaked that Cheney was pressuring the CIA. "There had been a number of anonymous leaks to reporters from the intelligence community during the late spring and early summer of 2003, claiming that Vice President Cheney, his chief of staff, Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby, and even former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich had pressured analysts to skew intelligence analyses to back up the administration’s preconceived political intentions." (Wilson; page 6)

James Bamford quotes CIA officials as saying, "Cheney came and literally went around to people saying find something. I was in there at the time when everyone said, ‘Remember when Cheney came in, said we needed to find something nuclear?’." (page 334) He tells of written testimony that documented Cheney and Libby pressuring "analysts to provide support for the claims. Cheney, he noted, ‘insisted that desk analysts were not looking hard enough for evidence’." (page 336)

In a nine month period, Libby’s requests to the CIA resulted in an estimated 500 documents being provided to the OVP. (Isikoff & Corn; page 5) The vice president and his chief of staff would then make recommendations to David Kay. The inspector told of one "lead" that Cheney demanded be followed up on resulted in the Iraq Survey Group "finding" trenches that local farmers had made on hillsides, for collecting drinking water for cattle. (Ibid; page 304)

Cheney was warned by General Hugh Shelton about the dangers that come from situations where the executive office pressures others for information that they want to hear. General Shelton mentioned a 1997 book by H.R. McMaster, Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Lead to Vietnam. In the book, McMaster, a West Point graduate, noted that the failure was partly due to the pressures that resulted in the advisors not working together, and not daring to give their best military advice. (State of Denial; page 61)

The CIA and other intelligence analysts are highly compartmentalized. When doubts about part of the administration’s positions were voiced, Cheney dismissed them. A senior military intelligence official told Thomas Ricks, "When the vice president stood up and said, ‘We are sure’ – well, who are we to argue? With all the compartmentalization, there’s a good chance that a guy that senior has seen stuff you haven’t." (page 51)

Ricks explains that these officers were convinced that Cheney had access to some "crown jewel" that was being withheld from them. "In fact, Cheney played that insider’s card himself, dismissively telling Tim Russet in an appearance on Meet the Press on September 8, 2002, that those who doubted his assertions about the threat presented by Iraq hadn’t ‘seen all the intelligence that we have seen’." (ibid; page 51)

{E} Public Relations

"Trust me on this." – Vice President Dick Cheney
(Hubris; page 115)

Although the WHIG did the majority of the behind-the-scenes media manipulation, VP Cheney recognized it was important to front for the administration. On August 7, 2002, he told an audience in California: "What we know now, from various sources, is that he ….continues to pursue a nuclear weapon." (Hersh; page 230)

But other republicans associated with Bush the Elder began to publicly express doubts. On August 16, 2002, a NY Time front-page headline read: "Top Republicans Break with Bush on Iraq Strategy." It reported on differences between the administration and Brent Scowcroft and James Baker III. Woodward reported that VP Cheney and Scooter Libby found this article "extremely aggravating." (Plan of Attack; page 163)

On August 26, 2002, Cheney addressed a Veterans of Foreign Wars audience in Nashville. He made several claims, among them: "Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction (and) there is no doubt that he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies and against us." Cheney noted that these WMDs, "in the hand of a ‘murderous dictator’ are ‘as great a threat as can be imagined. The risks of inaction are far greater than the risk of action’." (ibid; page 164)

In State of Denial, Woodward reported that Army Major General James "Spider" Marks has assumed that not only had Cheney had definite proof of Iraqi WMD, but that US intelligence must have cleared the Nashville speech. (page 92) However, in Plan of Attack, he had noted that Cheney had instead cleared the speech with President Bush, who had only said, "Don’t get me in trouble." Woodward noted that Cheney’s claims in Nashville had been far beyond what Powell, the CIA, or Bush had claimed. In fact, only ten days before, Bush had only gone as far as to say that Saddam "desired" such weapons as Cheney now said he definitely had. (page 164)
"The president and I never for a moment forget our number-one responsibility: To protect the American people against further attack and to win the war that began last September eleventh. We realize that wars are never won on the defensive. We must take the battle to the enemy," Cheney warned. "Time is not on our side. " (Ricks; page 49)

The NY Times August 27, 2002 headline read, " Cheney Says Peril of a Nuclear Iraq Justifies Attack." This type of coverage countered the reasoned positions of Scowcroft and Baker. The OVP and WHIG continued to promote the hype.

Less than two weeks later, on Sunday, September 8, 2002, the front page of the NY Times read: "US Says Hussein Intensifies Quest for A-Bomb Parts." The article, by Judith Miller and Michael Gordon, quoted administration officials, who said Iraq’s leaders "attempted (the) purchase of ‘specially designed aluminum tubes, which Americans believe were intended as components of centrifuges to enrich uranium’." The article quoted an "unnamed administration source" who warned that "all of Iraq is one large storage facility," and that "the first sign of a ‘smoking gun’ ….may be a mushroom cloud." (Bamford; pages 323-324)

That morning, the WHIG had a coordinated media offensive on the Sunday talk shows. Powell was on Fox; Rice on CNN; Rumsfeld on CBS’s Face the Nation; and Cheney was on Meet the Press. Each focused on the Miller article in the NY Times. They pretended that it was "proof" that the United States was at risk of attack from Iraq. The fact that Miller was simply using information the WHIG had provided her was overlooked. The image of a "mushroom cloud" had been firmly planted in the public’s mind.

"First OSP supplies false or exaggerated intelligence; then members of the WHIG leak it to friendly reporters, complete with prepackaged vivid imagery; finally, when the story breaks, senior officials point to it as proof and parrot the unnamed quotes they or their colleagues previously supplied.

"Bush later evoked the mushroom-cloud scenario himself during his major address to the nation from Cincinnati in October 2002: ‘The Iraqi regime is seeking nuclear weapons,’ he said. ‘Does it make sense for the world to wait ….for the final proof, the smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud?’ And in November, General Tommy R. Franks, the chief of the US Central Command, said inaction might provoke ‘the sight of the first mushroom cloud on one of the major population centers on this planet’." (Bamford; page 325)

On January 28, 2003, President Bush delivered his State of the Union speech. He included what has become known as the "16 words" about Iraq attempting to buy uranium from Niger in what is considered to be the president’s most important speech to the congress and the nation. The connection between these 16 words and VP Cheney will be examined in a following section of this essay.

On March 7, 2003, the International Atomic Energy Agency announced that the documents that the United States had provided them as evidence of the Iraqi attempt to purchase yellow cake uranium from Niger were "crude forgeries." The following day, a State Department spokesperson said, "We fell for it." On CNN, a retired ambassador named Joseph Wilson stated that the administration had more information on this than the State Department spokesperson had acknowledged. (Wilson; page 452)

On March 16, 2003, VP Cheney appeared on Meet the Press. "My belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators," he told Tim Russert. "To suggest that we need several hundred thousand troops there after military operations cease, after the conflict ends, I don’t think is accurate. I think that’s an overstatement." (State of Denial; page 151)

Three days later, the United States invaded Iraq.

{F} The Dogs of War (Part 3)

"On September 14, he appeared on Meet the Press, and host Time Russert grilled him on the administration’s prewar arguments. Cheney once again talked about links between Saddam’s regime and bin Laden, claiming that Iraq’s support for al-Qaeda was ‘clearly official policy.’ He once more cited the Czech report about Mohamed Atta in Prague as though it were still credible. He ignored the dispute over mobile bioweapon labs and insisted without equivocation that the US government had found ‘two of them’ – even though David Kay had told them that was not true."
--Hubris; Isikoff & Corn; page 314

In Plan of Attack, Bob Woodward tells about Colin Powell’s concerns that VP Cheney "had the fever" in regard to making a case that Saddam was tied to al Qaeda and to the 9/11 attacks on the United States. When Powell would argue that there was no proof to support these positions, Cheney would respond, "We know." The vice president would quote information provided by the OSP’s Douglas Feith. Powell referred to the OSP as Feith’s "Gestapo office." (page 292)

Isikoff and Corn also note that Cheney and Libby coordinated a White House effort with Feith and Wolfowitz at the Pentagon to make the case that Saddam was connected to al Qaeda and the 9/11 attacks on the US. (page 140) The significance of this cannot be overstated: it is central to what former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega has called the administration’s hijacking the country’s emotions, in order to reach a goal that the White House had identified long before the 9/11 attacks.

In October of 2003, Doug Feith had sent the Senate Intelligence Committee a classified report, "Summary of Body of Intelligence on Iraq—al Qaeda Contacts." The report listed 50 incidents that Feith claimed were proof that positive proof of a working relationship between Saddam’s government and Usama bin Laden’s terrorist network.

Two days later, the Weekly Standard published "Case Closed: The US Government’s Secret Memo Detailing Cooperation Between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden," by Stephen Hayes. The article was based entirely on Feith’s classified report. It ended with the claim, "There can no longer be any serious argument about whether Saddam Hussein’s Iraq worked with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda to plot against Americans."

Isikoff and Corn note that the Pentagon distanced itself from Feith’s report the day that the Weekly Standard printed Hayes’ article. They noted it was based on raw intelligence, and was not an actual analysis of possible relationships between Iraq and al Qaeda. More, the leak of the classified report was possibly illegal. (page 335)

Despite both the Pentagon and the CIA’s dismissing the Feith report, VP Cheney would refer to it as the "best source of information" in an interview with the Rocky Mountain News, and as "overwhelming evidence" in an NPR interview in the days after the Weekly Standard article appeared. Again, the vice president was involved in a propaganda campaign, coordinating efforts to mislead both the congress and the public, and using "possibly illegal" leaks to the media to accomplish their goal.

{G} Purposeful Lies

"Russert asked, If CIA analysts were to be proven wrong, ‘shouldn’t we have a wholesale investigation into the intelligence failure…’
" ‘What failure?’ Cheney interjected.
" ‘That Saddam had biological, chemical, and is developing a nuclear program,’ Russert replied.
" ‘My guess is in the end they’ll be proven right, Tim’."
--Hubris; Isikoff & Corn; page 314

One of the best examples of the White House’s efforts to mislead the nation about the "threat" posed by Saddam can be found in Hersh’s Chain of Command (pages 212-213) and Bamford’s A Pretext for War (pages 319-320). It involved Saddam’s son-in-law, Hussein Kamel, who had defected to Jordan in 1995. He provided significant information about Iraq’s WMD programs, before being convinced by Saddam to return to Iraq. When Kamel did return, Saddam had him executed.

In August of 2002, Dick Cheney looked into a television camera and told the American public: "We do know, with absolute certainty, that he is using his procurement system to acquire the equipment he needs in order to enrich uranium to build a nuclear weapon. …. We now know that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons …. Among other sources, we’ve gotten this from firsthand testimony from defectors, including Saddam’s son-in-law. …. (This) should serve as a reminder to all that we often learn more as the results of defectors than we learn from the inspection regime itself."

The problem with Cheney’s claims, as Bamford noted, is that it was the exact opposite of what Kamel had told interrogators. After being questioned by US intelligence, UN inspectors, and Jordanian intelligence, all reports noted the same thing: Kamel had said that Saddam ended all uranium enrichment attempts at the beginning of the first Gulf War, and that "all weapons – biological, chemical, missile, nuclear – were destroyed." (Bamford; page 320)

Further evidence of VP Cheney’s purposeful misrepresentations of the "threat" posed to the US can be found in A Pretext for War, in regard to "unmanned aerial vehicles" which could be used in germ warfare. Cheney took part in presenting information about the UAV threat to select members of congress, with CIA Director Tenet. They told of a fleet of UAVs that were capable of delivering chemical and biological weapons, and of Iraqi software used to produce sophisticated maps of US cities on the east coast.

Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) would later explain his vote in favor of the administration was due to being convinced by this presentation that there was an immediate threat to this country. "I was looked straight in the face and told that Saddam Hussein had the means of delivering those biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction by unmanned drones, called UAVs, unmanned aerial vehicles. Further, I was looked at straight in the face and told that UAVs could be launched from ships off the Atlantic coast to attack eastern seaboard cities of the United States. …. It was in a highly classified setting in a secure room." (Bamford; 330)

In State of Denial, Bob Woodward notes that Senator Carl Levin had attempted to get parts of the administration’s case for war declassified, so that the public would know they were being mislead. But the White House refused to allow the information to be declassified. "He complained about ‘all of the shadings, exaggerations, and hype’ about WMD by Bush and Cheney and sait it ‘showed the most willful and purposeful intent’ to create a deception." (page 416)

{H} Fair Game

"Madness! Madness! Outrageous! …What is this case about? Is it about something bigger? There is a cloud over the vice president …… We didn’t put that cloud there. That cloud’s there because the defendant obstructed justice. That cloud is something you just can’t pretend isn’t there. …Don’t you think the FBI and the grand jury and the American people are entitled to straight answers?"
--Patrick Fitzgerald; Closing statement in Libby trial; February 20, 2007

In early 2002, VP Dick Cheney requested information from the CIA on a report that Iraq had attempted to purchase yellow cake uranium from Niger. The CIA would request that former Ambassador Joseph Wilson investigate the reported incident. Wilson had gone on a similar mission for the CIA in 1999.

Wilson went to Niger, and found that the rumor was untrue. He reported this to two CIA officials in March. More, there were reports by the American ambassador and by a four-star Marine Corps General that reached the same conclusion as Wilson had. Thus, the CIA, the State Department, and Military Intelligence had all, within a period of weeks, concluded that there was no truth to the reported attempt by Iraq to buy uranium from Niger. (Wilson; page 2)

Though the OVP would later claim this issue was not important to Dick Cheney, and that he had forgotten it soon after asking a CIA briefer about it, there is substantial evidence that this is not true. A senate intelligence report noted it was considered a "high priority" issue; more, in early March, Cheney asked the CIA briefer for an update. It is unclear when Cheney first learned about Wilson’s findings, the two other reports, or about Wilson’s 1999 investigation.

Despite warnings by the CIA that the yellow cake information was weak at best, and its being removed from a fall ’02 presidential speech, it would be included in Bush’s 2003 State of the Union speech.

On May 29, 2003, Walter Pincus wrote about the disputed information in the Washington Post. The article caused concern in the Office of the Vice President, and Cheney and Libby began to investigate Joseph Wilson.

On July 6, the NY Times published an op-ed by Joseph Wilson, titled "What I Didn’t Find in Africa." On July 14, columnist Robert Novak exposed Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, as a CIA operative.

The scandal that unfolded is long and complicated. The State Department’s Counterespionage Unit referred the case to the FBI, which conducted an investigation from September to December, 2003. After that, the FBI coordinated efforts with Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, who headed a federal grand jury investigation. Much of that investigation focused on people other than Vice President Cheney. This included examining the roles played by individuals such as Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.

What is known about Cheney’s role in the scandal comes from the trial of Scooter Libby. Isikoff and Corn write: "Determined to protect Dick Cheney, Libby had told a convoluted story under oath: I knew; I forgot; I learned it again from journalists, not from the vice president." (page 408) Libby’s attempts to protect Cheney had led to the most serious felony charge that he was convicted of – obstruction of justice.

Still, the pre-trial documents and trial testimony showed that VP Cheney was obsessed with Wilson. Libby told the grand jury that Cheney and he discussed Wilson numerous times per day following the NY Times op-ed. Fitzgerald produced a copy of the op-ed, with notations from Cheney that indicated the "talking points" he wanted the WHIG to use to discredit Wilson.

Cheney told Libby about Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, who worked at the CIA. As the Wilson op-ed exposed the weakness of the "16 words" and mushroom cloud threats, Dick Cheney instructed Libby, "Let’s get everything out." Libby would meet with Judith Miller, and reveal parts of a classified National Intelligence Estimate, and tell her about Plame’s CIA employment.
Libby also shared Plame’s identity with others in the administration, such as Ari Fleischer, and discuss her with at least one other journalist, Matt Cooper. When the CIA filed a notice of a possible criminal violation with the Justice Department, there were attempts by administration officials to distance themselves from the scandal. Eventually, only Libby would be indicted, tried, and convicted for his role in the scandal.

{I} Justice delayed is justice denied

"I am very disappointed with the verdict. I am saddened for Scooter and his family. As I have said before, Scooter has served our nation tirelessly and with great distinction through many years of public service.
"Since his legal team has announced that he is seeking a new trial and, if necessary, pursuing an appeal, I plan to have no further comment on the merits of this matter until these proceedings are concluded."
--Vice President’s Statement on Libby Verdict; March 6, 2007.

All of the documents needed to impeach and convict VP Dick Cheney on the two criminal charges of misleading the congress and public on the "threat" posed by Iraq are already on record. There is no need for so much as a single further subpoena.

Numerous democrats from the House of Representatives have requested that the Justice Department release material from the FBI and grand jury investigation of the Plame scandal. They are seeking the information about the roles played by Karl Rove and Dick Cheney. Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald does not have the authority to release the information to congress, and the Justice Department has ignored each and every request from congress.

The information that the Justice Department wants to keep from congress contains what was learned about VP Cheney’s role. In fact, it includes the information from Mr. Fitzgerald’s June 4, 2004 interviews with President Bush and VP Cheney. It includes all of the evidence of abuses of power by a vice president who narrowly escaped criminal charges, but who can – and should – be held accountable by the congress.

There is one way for congress to access the "pot of gold" from the Plame scandal investigation. This can be accomplished by beginning the process of impeachment. In that context, the law is clear, and the federal courts would order the administration to release the information detailing VP Cheney’s role in the Plame scandal to Congress.

The nation is entitled to the truth.


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