The Watch

The Watch is concerned about the increasing pressure towards feudalism in the United States from corporations, social regressives, warmongers, and the media. We also are concerned with future history concerning our current times, as non-truths which are “widely reported” become the basis for completely false narratives.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Traitorgate

Sweet, Delicious Yellowcake Watch

Bill Clinton once lied to the American public. He said "I did not have sexual relations with that woman." This statement (though technically true in the deposition he gave), was demonstrably false. It gave his enemies the chance to smear the architect of some of the best governmental policies we’ve had in a long time. And of course, the media went crazy with it.

We’ve been hoping for that same kind of "watchdog" spirit from the media in regards to the current administration, and for the most part they have been strangely silent on lie after lie and scandal after scandal. There was a little noise about Bush’s insider trading at Harken, which if you judged him by the same standards as Martha(TM) would put him up the river for years. But what about things he has said and done as pResident?

The only signs of life the media has shown has been in regard to those famous sixteen words in his 2003 State of the Union speech. "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." Suddenly (well, not suddenly, it took weeks and months before they woke up to it) there was a huge uproar and feeding frenzy about that line. It was like the summer of the sharks or Laci Peterson’s murder trial. The media had finally hit on a scandal they could understand, or so it seemed.

But why those particular words? They aren’t even technically a lie: The British government DID say that. And how would you ever prove that it isn’t true? All it would take would be one representative of Saddam’s government, one time, at one place in all of the continent of Africa (or at least in one of the 4-6 countries that have significant uranium) to have inquired about purchasing some. Are we really 100% confident that some junior cultural attache didn't pull some minor Nigerian bureaucrat aside at some point in the last five years and ask? There’s no way to prove that didn’t happen. And so, why are the media so upset about this particular lie?

I know that the implication, which is that Saddam wants to make nukes, is very inflammatory. But Bush said many things which were demonstrably false many times before that concerning Iraq’s nuclear ambitions. For example, he claimed last fall that the AIEI had produced a report showing Saddam could make nuclear weapons in a year if they had the uranium. The AIEI immediately denied having issued any such report. Now THAT is a demonstrably false lie to the same effect. Cheney constantly repeated that Hussein had re-started his nuclear weapons program on a Meet the Press show in the fall. That seems now to be also untrue (though they could tie that one to "bad intelligence" wink wink). Maybe it was just the venue, a president lying in his State of the Union address. But in that same speech, he linked Iraq with Al Qaeda several times, and as we saw last week, Bush is nowhere near ready or able to provide even a shred of evidence to back that up, even now, months after the invasion. So I don’t get it.

In any case, Yellowcake Gate was a scandal, for some reason. As the media flurry arose, a highly trusted diplomat name Joseph Wilson wrote a pretty scathing New York Times editorial to the effect that it would have been impossible for Iraq to have obtained uranium from Niger’s tightly controlled supply. As true as that hopefully is, Bush never said Iraq was successful at getting the ore, just that the British had learned that he tried. But, whatever.

Now here is the real scandal. It has been said that the Bush family behaves very much like a crime syndicate in their efforts to consolidate and maintain power. That they are not above threatening, intimidating, and retaliating against people who would stand in their way, and that Poppy Bush uses his CIA connections in this effort. Maybe that’s true and maybe it isn’t. There are certainly enough stories to that effect out there, and a surprising number of Bush family enemies have died in small airplane crashes, but let’s leave the tinfoil hats out of this one for now. The truth is that this administration has treasonously retaliated against Joseph Wilson’s wife, in an apparent attempt to hurt both her and him, but which also has done damage to our nation’s intelligence gathering apparatus and put people’s lives in danger. Two articles on this: the first is an article from John Dean, The Bush Administration Adopts a Worse-than-Nixonian Tactic: The Deadly Serious Crime Of Naming CIA Operatives:

Why is the Administration so avidly leaking this information? The answer is clear. Former ambassador Wilson is famous, lately, for telling the truth about the Bush Administration's bogus claim that Niger uranium had gone to Saddam Hussein. And the Bush Administration is punishing Wilson by targeting his wife. It is also sending a message to others who might dare to defy it, and reveal the truth. No doubt the CIA, and Mrs. Wilson, have many years, and much effort, invested in her career and skills. Her future, if not her safety, are now in jeopardy . . .

Indeed, this is arguably worse. Nixon never set up a hit on one of his enemies' wives . . .

But no one should hold their breath. So far, Congress has treated the Bush Administration with kid gloves. Absent an active investigation by a grand jury, under the direction of a U.S. Attorney or special prosecutor, an FBI investigation is not likely to accomplish anything. After all, the FBI does not have power to compel anyone to talk. And unless the President himself demands a full investigation, the Department of Justice is not going to do anything - unless the Congress uncovers information that embarrasses them into taking action. While this case is a travesty, it won't be the first one that this administration has managed to get away with. Given the new the nadir of investigative journalism, this administration has been emboldened. And why not? Lately, the mainstream media has seemed more interested in stockholders than readers. If Congress won't meaningfully investigate these crimes - and, indeed, even if it will - it is the press's duty to do so. Let us hope it fulfills that duty. But I am not holding my breath about that, either.

See also this weblog entry:

The background: The administration has been making personal attacks on Joseph Wilson , the former Ambassador to Gabon whom the CIA sent to Niger to check out the yellowcake story and whose op-ed in the Times blew it wide open. That's not in dispute, and not surprising. (Though what Novak writes about Wilson's personal heroism makes it even more discreditable than it would otherwise be, the willingness of GWB and his fellow chickenhawks to denigrate actual patriotic heroes has been obvious for a long time: ask Max Cleland.)

The story: A Novak column Monday outed Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, as an undercover CIA operative, though that fact, if true, had little or no relevance to the story itself. The information was attributed to "senior Administration officials," which one of Kevin's commentators says means people at the Deputy rank. Two people at that level doing something isn't free-lancing: that's a decision made at, or at least cleared by, a higher level even that theirs.

Conservative Idiots Watch

Monday means Top Ten Conservative Idiots at Democratic Underground.

On Roy Moore:
And now Moore's Monument is becoming something of a battle between religious fundies who think that the world is going to explode if the monument is removed, and the rest of the planet who thinks that Justice Roy Moore is a maniac who should probably be kicked out of his judicial position once and for all. I mean, this is the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court we're talking about here, and the guy won't obey the law he's supposed to uphold. Instead he keeps rattling on about a "higher law" which, while all well and good, isn't actually the law of the land.

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