Early in the movie Philadelphia, there is a poignant moment when the attorney portrayed by Denzel Washington first confronts potential client Tom Hanks with the request:
“Explain it to me like I’m seven years old.”
Though I may have misquoted, that line has been running through my mind as I’ve observed the unfolding of a peculiar form of justice in the trial of Lewis “Scooter” Libby.
For those who reside on melting icecaps, without access to media, the Libby perjury-obstruction trial is a surrogate proceeding for a vast cornucopia of crimes committed by the White House in the falsification of the case for war with Iraq.
What is incredibly clear from repeated testimony is that vice president Dick Cheney was ground zero in a determined and concerted effort to defame former ambassador Joe Wilson for having the audacity to challenge the bogus administration claim of an Iraq-Niger yellow cake uranium connection.
That the claim was demonstrably false is undeniable yet the media seems to have converged on the Washington Post’s dubious and self-serving assertion that Wilson’s challenge was false. The argument seems to center on Wilson’s assertion that he was sent to Niger at the vice president’s behest. Because Wilson was only indirectly sent at the vice president’s behest, the Post vindicates its own soft-pedaling of the story and incredibly blames Wilson for outing his own wife, CIA agent Valerie Plame.
It had nothing whatsoever to do with Post editor Bob Woodward’s belated admission that he was one of the recipients of the White House smear campaign. Whatever made them think that a cheerleader for the war would be a suitable “fence” for White House propaganda?
Where I come from, that is called mendacity.
The programmed obfuscation of the truth proceeds with the revelation that presumed “good guy” Richard Armitage, assistant secretary of defense to Colin Powell, was among the first to expose the identity of Wilson’s wife as an agent. How we arrived at the conclusion that either Armitage or his boss were good guys and therefore incapable of engaging in a White House smear campaign, is mystifying.
Colin Powell was fully capable of presenting a case for war he knew to be “bullshit” to the United Nations Security Counsel on the eve of invasion. It is hardly inconceivable that Daddy Warbucks, a seasoned intelligence expert, would score a few points with the VP gang by nonchalantly revealing the identity of a covert agent of intense media interest on the understanding that he was (of course) completely unaware of her protected status.
Where I come from, that is called incredible.
The final sticking point in this grand obfuscation scheme is the revelation that Dick Cheney somehow managed to get the president to declassify highly guarded documents without public notice to shield himself and his lair from criminal culpability.
Someone explain it to me as if I’m seven years old. How does the instant and anonymous declassification of secret documents clear any official of the deliberate outing of a CIA operative?
In a White House that is already on record punishing analysts and agents who do not produce twisted, tainted and falsified intelligence to support the mandates of pre-ordained policies, what would be the consequences of knowing that the chief executive could compromise your security on a whim?
If this is the state of American law on protecting its most valued human assets, then every operative, agent and analyst has been served notice they will be called upon to produce whatever “intelligence” the administration desires.
So it seems this whole masquerade is just another opportunity for the White House to bend the law to its own maleficent purposes.
Everyone connected to this case carries the stench of criminal conduct, cover-up, negligence or complicity.
Tell me again, like I’m a seven-year-old, why isn’t Dick Cheney on trial as the mastermind of this conspiratorial scourge?
Somebody tell me, like I’m seven years old, why Richard Armitage, Robert Novak and the president, himself, are not called to the witness stand to tell what they know?
What reasons did the vice president give when he persuaded his boss to declassify the critical documents? If he told the truth, then the president is culpable. If he lied, then the hammer falls on the VP.
No one has suggested that Scooter Libby is stupid. He would not lie, intentionally and repeatedly, if there were no crime to cover up.
The tears of defense attorney Theodore Wells aside, Scooter Libby is not an unknowing victim in this scheme. It is neither conjecture nor speculation: CIA agent Valerie Plame was maliciously exposed in a political vendetta campaign. She is the forgotten victim in this sordid affair.
So tell me once more, like I’m seven years old, why are we supposed to admire the grim determination of chief prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald?
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