November 21, 2007

You mean...Bush knew about the Valerie Plame leak?

Knock me over with a feather. Scott McClellan, in his artlessly artful way, appears to imply that President George W. Bush was in on the ground floor of the Plame cover-up. In a careful leak of one excerpt from his new book, which apparently will not be published until April, 2008, McClellan exonerates himself and throws Bush, Cheney, Rove, Libby and Andrew Card under the bus. Then he declined interviews. Thus, McClellan can enjoy his Holiday season with a clear conscience, held in high esteem by his friends and relations once again, while leaving everyone else to pore over one paragraph like the entrails of a perfectly preserved pterodactyl. This is what passes for integrity in high places these days.

In March, 2007, on the Larry King show, McClellan was somewhat easier on Bush. McClellan: "I spoke with those individuals [Libby & Rove], ... and those individuals assured me they were not involved in this. ... said what I believed to be true at the time. It was also what the president believed to be true at the time based on assurances that we were both given. Knowing what I know today, I would have never said that back then." This makes it sound like McClellan was told by Libby and Rove that they played no role in leaking Plame's name to the press, and that Bush was told the same (false) thing. Bush went around the country from July to the end of September, 2003, asserting that he intended to "get to the bottom" of the leak scandal, and assuring everyone that anyone involved in the leak would be fired, although this promise morphed into a threat to can only those "convicted of a crime." So if Bush was genuinely ignorant of the truth, that can only mean that Rove, Libby and Cheney sat mute while the Chief Executive discussed an "investigation" which they knew was completely unnecessary. Then, when the complete truth came out in the context of the Libby prosecution, and it was established that not only were Cheney, Libby and Rove aware of the leak, but in fact had orchestrated it, Bush took no action against the cabal. And these conspirators purposely kept him in the dark and allowed him to make a complete fool of himself at the same time he was looking stupid already for finding no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Huh?

That version of events has never made much sense. Bush has gotten away with it only because the comatose Washington press corps is too lazy to look at clues lying around in plain sight. I sit here this morning possessed only of my native logic, various quotes and a sense of the time line, plus the revelation from a hearing conducted by Henry Waxman, where James Knodell, the White House chief of security, confirmed that no internal investigation of the leak had ever been requested by Bush. How did Bush propose to get to the "bottom" of anything, other than the moral bottom where he and his Administration always dwell?

So when McClellan now writes that Bush was "involved" in McClellan's dissemination of false information about the leak, the logical inference to be drawn is that Bush knew from early on that Libby, Rove and Cheney were involved in the intentional outing of a covert operative. Bush's innocence simply does not make sense. An early decision to make him appear innocent does fit the case, and since he was widely regarded as a simpleton, this possessed an inherent credibility. The general approach of the cover-up was taken directly from the Watergate playbook, to insulate the top man from the shenanigans of his subordinates. But, as with Nixon, Bush wasn't innocent. If Scott McClellan ever expatiates on the subject, I imagine the true extent of Bush's complicity will become more apparent. Maybe Scottie's rehabilitation could follow the lines of John Dean's, il capo di tutti capi among historic whistle blowers.

The astounding thing is that the Washington press corps never figured this thing out, and that Bush was reelected in November, 2004. Dorothy, I don't think we're in 1973 anymore.

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