Ship Of State Springs Leak James

Ship of State Springs a Leak

James Ridgeway of the Village Voice recalls the ghost of corrupt vice presidents past in the light of the NYT’s revelations Tuesday that Richard Bruce Cheney was the one who revealed the name of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson to his chief of staff, Irving Lewis Libby.

Libby had earlier maintained that he learned the name from a “journalist.”

If both things are true, it makes perfect sense of our weird American news reporting. Cheney isn’t just “a” journalist, he is The Journalist–who calls up Roger Ailes at Fox Cable News and tells him what to report and how. Why, Jimmy Olson and Clark Kent are pikers compared to super-Dick.

Or it could just be that Libby was lying, in which case he gets Martha Stewart’s old cell.

I saw Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison say that she hoped Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald would not bring a charge like perjury, which would be a sign that he could not discover a real crime, or words to that effect. She was speaking off the current Republican Party talking points aimed at spinning this scandal.

So let’s get this straight. The Republicans roiled the country for two years and impeached Clinton for lying about sex under oath, but now all of a sudden perjury is a minor crime not worth bothering about. Remember that 1998 was a period when Clinton needed to focus on the threat of al-Qaeda, but he was being distracted by the Republican bulldogs and everything he did about al-Qaeda was dismissed as “wag the dog.” Vicious partisan politics was put before the benefit of the nation. (Many of the major Republican figures who impeached Clinton had themselves had affairs and covered them up, and besides, who cared or cares?)

But what Cheney, Libby and Rove did was not just a private impropriety. The leak of Valerie Plame Wilson’s identity did enormous harm to US national security, since it blew the cover of the dummy corporation the Company was using to investigate weapons of mass destruction proliferation.

Although it was not illegal for Cheney to share classified information with Libby, since both had clearances, there is a question of whether the idea of leaking Valerie’s name originated with Cheney. Even if that were not true, there is a question of propriety. Undercover CIA operatives’ names should not be bandied about without some serious purpose. At a time of a War on Terror, when the nation’s security is under assault by a sinister and determined terrorist organization, do we want a vice president in the White House who has the kind of loose lips that sink ships?

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