News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: What was Cheney's Role in PlameGate?

Friday, October 28, 2005

What was Cheney's Role in PlameGate?

Now that US Vice President Dick Cheney's aide, "Scooter" Libby has been indicted, the focus must move to the Vice President's in this entire affair.

While many conservatives and Republicans will attempt to deflect attention away from what is a serious, treasonous, act this outing of Valerie Plame is, there must be no flagging in seeing how far up the administration ladder this crime goes.

Questions that immediately jump to my mind include the following:

1) We now know that Libby got his information about Plame from Cheney--indeed, the lie he is being proescuted for is that he lied about this. If so, then in the meeting where Libby heard this, did Cheney tell Libby to go out and reveal Plame's identity? If so, this seems to imply a conspiracy.

2) Cheney asserted publicly that he did not know that Plame was a CIA agent. Now we know that he did know at least two weeks before he made this public statement. Why did Cheney feel that it was necessary to publicly deny this? Cheney's statements include the following:

"On June 11, 2003, according to the indictment, Libby first learned that Wilson was married to Valerie Plame Wilson, a CIA employee who may have been responsible for sending him to Niger. On June 12, 2003, Cheney personally advised Libby that Valerie Wilson worked at the CIA in the Counterproliferation Division. Libby understood that Cheney had received the word from the CIA.

Cheney, apparently, didn't want to reveal how much he knew. On Sept. 14, 2003 _ three months after imparting his knowledge to Libby _ Cheney said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that he didn't know anything about who sent Wilson to Niger."

We can also follow Cheney's actions and statements in relationship to White House statements and how they relate to this scandal.

3) We now know that Cheney and Libby refused to give Congress documents that would have shown that the evidence for Iraq's WMDs was made up and fabricated. If this is true, then Cheney's culpability under various federal laws that prohibit lying to Congress will become apparent.

4) The Italian government has shown that Italian Intelligence officers actually fabricated the false documents that were used by the CIA and Cheney to assert that Iraq sought yellowcake, the main ingredient for nuclear weapons. If this is ture, then what was Cheney's role in getting these documents into play?

The NYTimes reported:

"The notes do not show that Mr. Cheney knew the name of Mr. Wilson's wife. But they do show that Mr. Cheney did know and told Mr. Libby that Ms. Wilson was employed by the Central Intelligence Agency and that she may have helped arrange her husband's trip."

Associated Press Online July 11, 2003

"One of the mysteries congressional investigators seem intent to explore is how much Cheney knew. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Monday that Cheney was not informed nor aware of the CIA report casting doubt on the British allegations. But Wilson, the former envoy who helped the CIA write the report, said in an NBC-TV interview last Sunday that Cheney's office requested and received from the CIA a report on Wilson's mission."

As CNN is reporting, it is a federal offense to reveal any CIA agent's name to someone without a security clearance--so, the issue here is not just about whether she was operaitve or that she had run undercover operations (a separate issue) but whether Libby denied that he revealed to others that she was a CIA agent, plain and simple.

Some conservatives are making the case that Valerie Plame was the one who sent her husband to Niger. Contrary to this view, evidence seems to point to the fact that Valerie Plame only "recommended" her husband after higher ups came to her and asked whether he might be a good person to send to Niger to investigate this issue. The implication that she initiated it is wrong. Others in the CIA did--she was simply sought out as a "reference."

People are asking about the "underlying issues"--I believe that Fitzpatrick is using this to leverage more information about higher ups. If Libby caves and gets a plea bargain, he might turn on others who were involved. Just speculation here...

On the other hand, as Carl Bernstein (who with BobWoodward broke the Watergate story) has said in an interview, the issue is much larger. Bernstein says that this entire scandal shows something about the US govt--executive and legislative branches--that is, that Fitzgerald is left with asking and tracking down questions that should have been asked by Congress when the entire effort to go to war was underway.

PlameGate was an effort to shut up critics of the war--a war of political insiders, so to speak. The misinformation and deceit promulgated by the administration in its justification of the war was so suspect that Cheney/Libby had to silence critics who questioned the data provided by the administration.

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