US Vice President Dick Cheney is now considered a definite source of the Plame Leak, at least, according to the hair-shirts at the New York Times. If the Fitzgerald inquiry reveals that Cheney was one of the leakers, and should be indicted, then Cheney is history. He will either go the way of Spiro Agnew, or he will have to suffer the indignity of being forced out by impeachment.
The seriousness of the Plame affair cannot be understated. Not only does it potentially indict three of George Bush's closest advisers - Dick Cheney, Karl Rove and Lewis Libby - it may also prove beyond reasonable doubt that the White House deliberately lied to the American people about the reason why they invaded Iraq.
We need to remember that back in late 2002 and early 2003, the White House was engaged in a marketing campaign for the invasion of Iraq. Colin Powell appeared before the United Nations with photographs that he said were solid proof of Iraq's chemical weapons program. During the 2003 State of the Union address, George Bush claimed that Iraq had been trying to get Uranium yellowcake from Niger. Condoleeza Rice, responding to the White House's failure to find the definitive "Smoking Gun" warned that we didn't want "the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud".
It was a fear-based marketing campaign that worked. Anyone who dared to question was smeared. That's what happened to Joseph Wilson when he wrote his New York Times article attacking the Uranium link to Niger. A government official, writing an article that proved that the Niger-Uranium link was false, was too much for the White House. Knowing his wife (Valerie Plame) was a covert CIA agent, they revealed her name to the press and argued that Wilson's investigative visit to Niger was part of some CIA "boondoggle" - even though the administration HAD sent him there to investigate the report.
Amidst the White House fearmongering there were rational voices. The UN inspection team had been in Iraq for months, and, although they complained that the Iraqis were not exactly co-operative, they had found no solid evidence whatsoever of any weapons program. The "September Dossier", released in the UK and used by the President to back up the Niger/Uranium link, was declared to be false by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) some 2 weeks before the invasion occurred. Another briefing paper released by the British Government, the so-called "Dodgy Dossier", was completely discredited by media analysis.
But, for whatever reason, people just did not hear the rational voices. I was one of the exceptions. In 2002, I was all for an invasion of Iraq, and I believed everything that was being said about their WMDs and their links to the 9/11 terrorists. But, as time went by, no amount of analysis convinced me. Moreover, as the September and "Dogdy" dossiers were proved to be forgeries, it became clear to me that Downing Street and The White House were making things up as they went along. Once I worked out that someone had been lying in order to begin a war, I lost all support for it, including any other reports by government agencies.
In my own country, the resignation of Andrew Wilkie from the Office of National Assessments prior to the war was another reason to doubt. He argued strongly that the evidence he had examined in no way supported the pronouncements of Bush, Blair and Australian Prime Minister John Howard. The evidence was there - but few people were looking.
So what now for George Bush?
The investigation into the Plame affair will probably prove that the White House had misled the American people, and the rest of the world, into invading Iraq. Apart from the potential indictments that will result from the investigation, serious thought must now be given to the continued presence of George Bush in the White House. Given that America has gone to war as a result of his lies, can he now be considered worthy to be the President? Is George Bush guilty of "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors?"
Whether Bush's actions fit into the category of "High Crimes" is certainly open to debate. Nevertheless, lying in order to start a war that kills thousands of people is a little bit more serious than lying under oath about having an affair with an intern. In this instance, the Republicans have probably painted themselves into a corner - if Clinton could be impeached for covering up sexual encounters, then surely Bush could be impeached for causing the deaths of thousands of people through his lies.
Bush's natural opponents - Democratic members of Congress - do not have a majority in either the House or the Senate. In order for the impeachment to be successful, a simple majority in the House and a two-thirds majority in the Senate is required. If Bush is to be impeached, members of his own party will have to vote to remove him - a very difficult proposition. However, Bush has already incurred the wrath of at least half the Republican party when he nominated Harriet Miers to SCOTUS, and he is already on the outer with many due to his mishandling of Hurricane Katrina. Bush's popularity is naturally waning amongst the general populance (especially amongst African-Americans), so it is probably safe to assume that a significant number of Republicans are seriously questioning Bush's ability as President.
Mind you, if the Republicans rally behind Bush after "Fitzmas", despite all the evidence of his mismanagement, the GOP will do itself no favours once the elections come. Being formally associated with George Bush, and then supporting his removal, will certainly bring the party shame. However, the GOP will gain at least some semblence of respect through it because they will be seen to be doing the right thing. But if they "stand by their man", the long-term ramifications amongst the populance will be tragic. Although the prospect of a permanently hamstrung GOP will bring many lefties a smile (including me), it serves America (and the world) better if the GOP stands by more important principles - ones that transcend mere party loyalty. The only reasonable thing that the GOP can do, therefore, is to stand by the Democrats to remove the worst president in the history of the United States.
From the One Salient Overlord Department
© 2005 Neil McKenzie Cameron, http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.