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                                       politics + culture

Saturday, October 08, 2005

True lies: Miller, Miers, and George W. Bush

This may be the most interesting "news junkie" moment in my adult life. The news of this day rewards mulling over and there's been a great deal of productive critical thinking being done (...and more here.)

Call me naive, but for a New York Times reporter held in jail for 85 days to agree to testify before a federal grand jury...and, then, days after that testimony, to admit that she just, uh, forgot to mention something relevant...that 'something relevant' being notes that were sitting at her home the whole time...screams: heads up!

As today's NYT notes, Judith Miller is currently the focal figure in the Fitzgerald Investigation into the Plame affair. We bloggers know that Judith Miller has always been at the focus of the misinformation used in the lead up to the war in Iraq. That misinformation, and its politically damaging consequences, is, after all, what the Plame affair is really about.

Donald Rumsfeld, two weeks after 9/11, responding to the question of whether our government would be forthright with the press and the public, replied by paraphrasing Winston Churchill:

"Winston Churchill...[snip]...said:

...'sometimes the truth is so precious it must be accompanied by a bodyguard of lies'...."

It seems to me, with the twin trajectories of the Miers nomination and the Fitzgerald investigation we have begun to arrive at the 'end game' of a strategy that can best be called the Bush/Rove double-down: Dissemble, distract and promote your own. Bet the store on the 'big lie'. It's the most logical explanation for a set of circumstances that we've so often seen described as harmless and unrelated:

  • Bush's devoted 'loyalty' to his first term 'Oval Office' brethren: Miers, Gonzales, Rove, Hadley, Bolton, Rice.
  • the departure of key personnel like George Tenet, Ari Fleischer and Colin Powell...all of whose names are directly mentioned in news reports relating to the Fitzgerald investigation.
  • and, above all, the distraction that, at critical times, has become the key characteristic of Bush's presidency in both senses of the word.

  • This has been a 'distracted' administration that has been caught off guard by events: Katrina, the flu, and opposition to Miers from the GOP base. It has also been an administration that has used distraction as a powerful tool: terror threats that are later shown to be 'old news', 'important speeches' that say nothing of significance, the Roberts' nomination coming on the heels of the revelation that Rove was Cooper's source, the 'sixteen words' about Niger in the President's 2003 State of the Union Address.

    The single most plausible explanation for what we now know to have been a "bodyguard of lies" surrounding this administration, and the drawing of a select few of its 'lying bodyguards' ever closer to the executive branch, is that there is something rotten at the core of the Bush White House. The scope of recent news indicates that that something is not simply Karl Rove, who we were told two years ago had nothing to do with the leaking of Plame's name. The Plame investigation now touches every level of our government and it centers on the Oval Office.

    What did the President know and when did he know it? Murray Waas notes that it's now a relevant question. It applies to the Vice President as well.

    Miers, or anyone else connected to the Bush Administration and potential claims of executive privelege, should in no way shape or form be allowed anywhere near the high court of the land. In fact, this is a moment where we need to stand up and demand the bright disinfectant of the truth into the conduct of this White House. One step in that process should be rejecting Harriet Miers for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. We have a right to know what has gone on. No one is above the law; nor should someone perhaps complicit in breaking it or knowing about crimes committed by White House officials be confirmed to uphold it.

    The time for a broader inquiry is now. We, the citizens, have a right to have our questions answered by our President regardless of 'ongoing investigations.' In fact the current state of those investigations demands accountability. The events in question in the Plame leak took place while our nation prepared to vote in a closely contested Presidential election. Was the outcome of the 2004 election affected by this administration's lies? We have a right to know. And if we don't like the answer, we have a right to begin to talk about the constitutional options available to the citizens.

    In fact, we have that duty.



    • Just passing through, cool blog by the way.

      By Blogger The Humanity Critic, at 4:07 PM  

    • If all of this plays out as we suspect, Fitzgerald will go down in history as an American patriot.

      By Anonymous YankInDC, at 4:51 PM  

    • I'm not usually a tinfoil hat wearer but the possible conspiratorial permutations in this one boggles the mind. I thought, upon Miers' nomination, that it was so odd that he would choose her over a Gonzalez or a hard-line winger. The thought crossed my mind that as Chief White House Counsel she is privy to a HOST of information. Perhaps the SCOTUS nomination is her Presidential Medal of Freedom??

      The whole thing stinks and frankly I don't think most of us have even guessed at the depths of the conspiracy. I only hope they nab them on it.

      By Blogger RenaRF, at 4:58 PM  

    • I'm sure I'm not the only one to find the NY Times article that you link extremely depressing. Frustrating. And engraging.

      Enough's enough. This is a huge test for the NY Times, I'm starting to think. The *first* defense of Judy Miller (re: WMD/Chalabi sourcing) was already so problematic in terms of basic journalistic standards and now they are faced with a real crisis, given their defense of a journalist whose conduct is becoming more and more the story itself.

      One of the things that's so distressing about this Times piece is the way that what seems to be an effort to minimize the possible infractions of Miller herself seeps into the rhetoric of the coverage: "Mr. Fitzgerald appears to be exploring novel approaches to possible charges in the case. . . One legal theory the prosecutor has pursued, the lawyers said, is whether anyone violated a broadly worded federal statute that makes it a crime to "communicate" classified defense information to someone not authorized to receive it. Under the law, any government official or private citizen who transferred classified information could potentially be charged with a felony. . . . That case, and the prospect that prosecutors could increasingly turn to the statute as part of the government's efforts to stop leaks to news organizations and others, has stirred concern about cutting off the traditional flow of information among public officials, government contractors, lobbyists[!!!!] and journalists who routinely trade sensitive and sometimes classified information."

      I think all of these emphasized quotations are bizarre and, in tandem, extremely troubling: they give an inevitable aura that the Times is pushing the framework of their own coverage to come to the defense of one of their own. This is not, as Roberts would say, simply "calling balls and strikes" (to bring it back to KO's suggestion about Miers) and, despite everything that has happened with the Grey Lady of late, I think the Times is still better than this.

      By Blogger awol, at 6:09 PM  

    • We have a right to know. And if we don't like the answer, we have a right to begin to talk about the constitutional options available to the citizens.

      In fact, we have that duty.

      sounds like someone's been reading jefferson. same thought has crossed my mind recently.

      By Anonymous wu ming, at 7:17 PM  

    • The fact concerning this entire event that I find most disappointing is:

      The only avenue 250 million plus Americans have at the moment to finding the truth is in the hands of one prosecutor. The rest of us are powerless. Without him where would we be?

      How did we get here? Are we so crippled and scared that we can't DO anything about the crimes against all humanity that are right in front of us for everyone to see?

      The absurdity is lethal.

      How are we all going to feel when the curtain comes crashing down and they are found to be tiny, evil worms that have no real power at all. Just an ability to manipulate our fears and mistrust of others to get what they want. And they have ruined the world in the process. How stupid are we going to feel then?

      By Blogger NYBri, at 7:57 PM  

    • re: humanity. Thanks!

      re: awol

      I agree, concur..wholeheartedly.

      And no NYT story on board for Sunday, as of 10PM West Coast Time. If they don't/can't/choose not to see how this impacts their credibility...they are blind.

      Let's just say that Miller makes a plea bargain on Tuesday. That would mean the "figure" they've been defending wasn't protecting a source so much as protecting herself.

      Complicity in WMD,in Chalabi and now this? Where's the crack team reporting / investigating Judy? Where's the "soul baring"?


      I agree. We need, in addition, an investigation. This is too much for one set of shoulders. This is why we have a legislature....and hearings.

      My own rank speculation:

      As Miller get woven into the web.

      A) Could it be that Novak was "messing with Miller"? (No one has really explained the utility of his outing Plame in print....let's say Judy was involved and Novak knew it, or was told that. Could he have been trying to fuck with the Miller and the NYT?)

      B) Could it be that Cheney was "messing with Wilson?" Our for revenge after the first NYT oped that "referenced" Niger? Rove and Bush could care less about Wilson/Plame. Cheney, another matter. He would have the motivation and personal animus for "fucking with" Wilson..and maybe Wilson saw that coming?

      By Blogger kid oakland, at 9:55 PM  

    • "..and maybe Wilson saw that coming?"

      He did.

      By Blogger NYBri, at 5:36 PM  

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