Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Fitzmas miracles and Dissenters-come-lately

By now you may have heard the late-night scoop on the CIA leak investigation from the NY Times: Libby's source was Cheney; Cheney's source was George Tenet, former director of the CIA. But Libby told investigators that his source was Tim Russert and/or other reporters. Russert says no way. For a good catch-me-up, chef recommends that you read the TorStar's Tim Harper, Knight Ridder's FAQ, or even NPR's Q & A for a quick primer on this whole affair.

And so what? Well, it's all about the phantom uranium. The invasion of Iraq. You know, the last 3 years of Manichean madness hatched from "down there". And we can be forgiven ("up here," as it were) for thinking that the whole place is run by crazies; with the exception of an occasional hiccup from Colin Powell to Bob Woodward, there has been scarcely a peep of dissent from within the halls of power. But now it's coming down and coming down hard. Last week I posted about Col. Wilkerson, Powell's former aide; last night I posted about Scowcroft, a Bush 41 loyalist. So what's changed? Something big is coming and people know it all goes back to Iraq. And the dissenters of officialdom are having a belated coming-out party. Yes, it's a Fitzmas miracle! Dissenters queue for the 'airing of grievances' (wait...that's "Festivus").

[click "Read on, MacDuff!" to continue reading]

Former Powell aide, former GHW Bush National Security director, and now WaPo is reporting that a current State dude wants in on the Fitzmas action:
A top State Department official involved in Iraq policy, former ambassador Robin Raphel, said the administration was "not prepared" when it invaded Iraq, but did so anyway in part because of "clear political pressure, election driven and calendar driven," according to an oral history interview posted on the Web site of the congressionally funded U.S. Institute of Peace.
If some of this feels like "Day late, dollar short," you're not alone. Fred Kaplan at Slate agrees. Although Kaplan concedes that Scowcroft rang alarum-bells well before the invasion of Iraq, he makes a good point about the rest of the dissenters-come-lately. More importantly, Kaplan goes on to make a broader point about the lack of "resignations in protest":
Edward Weisband and Thomas M. Franck wrote a breezily insightful book 30 years ago called Resignation in Protest: Political and Ethical Choices Between Loyalty to Team and Loyalty to Conscience in American Public Life. They observed that resignations in protest are common in Britain, where Cabinet ministers tended also to hold parliamentary seats; they could therefore leave the government and still retain power and a constituency. In the American system, officials who quit the president in protest are left with nothing. Not even the opposition party wants them because they're seen as loose cannons; if they squealed on their current boss, they might squeal on a future boss too.
[I would also add (*ahem*!) that resignation in protest is also a fact of Canadian life]. Back to Iraq. If the current U.S. administration goes down, there will be no smug vindication here. Sorry but there's no other way to say it: many thousands are dead. Iraqis are now largely confined to their homes. The tortured won't be magically un-tortured if Libby & co wind up in the dock. As Bob Herbert of the NY Times put it: "What is the next disaster that this crowd will be unprepared to cope with? Or the next lunatic idea that will spring from its ideological bag of tricks?" It's not 'celebration,' it's relief; someone might finally hit the brakes on this ghoulish train.
Update [2:52 AM, Oct 25]: Seriously! Somebody stop them: "Cheney Plan Exempts CIA From Bill Barring Abuse of Detainees"


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