Ronda Hauben on Sun, 6 Nov 2005 23:48:35 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> about indictment of Libby and need for Congressional Investigation)

An article I wrote that I thought would be of interest to nettimers - r

'Scooter' Libby, White House Drama Unfolds [Analysis] Will the leak probe extend
into a Congressional investigation?


The unfolding saga of the latest scandal to hit the White House in the U.S.
continues. With the formal indictment of I. Lewis Libby, known as "Scooter" Libby,
on Oct. 28 by the Special Council Patrick Fitzgerald, the investigation into the
probe of the CIA leak is taking on a new dimension.

The essence of the prosecutor's case in indicting Libby is that the obstruction of
the investigation and the lies told to those doing the investigation hampered the
chance to get a clear picture of the crimes committed and the guilty parties. That
is why obstruction of justice and lying to the investigators are serious offenses.

There are other aspects of the indictment, which is publicly
on the Internet, which provide a window into the activities at the White House
during the period when the faulty intelligence used to justify the war against
Iraq was being publicly questioned.

    *Related Articles* Heat Is On for CIA Leak Probe Prosecutor


 The Internet and White House Leak


The indictment charges that on May 29, 2003, Libby asked an under Secretary of
State for Information about the then unnamed Ambassador (Joseph Wilson) and his
trip to Niger. What is interesting about this detail is that it wasn't that Libby
was trying to determine whether the intelligence information about Iraq trying to
buy yellowcake from Niger was true or false. Instead he was seeking information
about the person who was challenging the intelligence.

The indictment then describes how documents were faxed to Libby which made it
possible for him to identify the person who took the trip to Niger as Joseph
Wilson. By June 11 or 12, the indictment explains, Libby spoke with an unnamed CIA
officer about the circumstances leading to Wilson's trip to Niger, and from that
conversation Libby was able to learn that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA and
could have had some connection with Wilson's being sent to Niger.

Again, the portrait of Libby's activities being described here is a portrait that
presents him as interested in gathering information about Wilson, rather than his
gathering information about the reliability of the intelligence used to justify
the war.

The picture presented in the indictment is one which shows there was a
considerable amount of activity among the White House staff who were trying to
determine who Wilson was and to gather information about him. Wilson is
essentially being treated as a target, rather than the information he is providing
being treated in a serious way.

There is currently speculation in the media about the identity of the unnamed
members of the White House and State Department staff that are referred to in the
indictment. (2) While this speculation is helpful in unraveling the actual
activities and relationships that led to the crime, it is secondary to coming to
understand the nature of the White House activity that the indictment exposes.

Intelligence information for Libby, as demonstrated in the indictment, is not to
be held to standards of accuracy. Instead, it becomes a political weapon by which
to campaign for a desired policy and to use to attack others who may disagree.
Another observation from the details enumerated in the indictment is that a large
number of people on the White House and State Department staff were brought into
the activity of setting Wilson up as a target to be attacked.

White House activity, then, is not to ascertain that the accuracy of intelligence
being used for matters as serious as taking the U.S. and other countries into a
war in Iraq. Instead the time and efforts of numerous members on the White House
and State Department staff were expended on creating a web to encircle someone who
asked for the serious consideration of the accuracy of intelligence.

The indictment documents how members of the U.S. press were also brought into this
web of deceit. Hence, not only are a number of members of the U.S. government
involved in these illegitimate activities, but also several journalists are
similarly pulled into the fold. The apparent intention is that they will help to
change the focus of the critique that Wilson is providing of intelligence used by
the White House, into setting Wilson, himself, and soon his wife, up as the focus
of public attention.

A serious question not treated in the indictment is what President Bush knew about
these activities by a number of people on the White House staff. While the
indictment states that Vice President Cheney knew of Wilson's identity and told
Libby at some point that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA, it is silent on what
Bush knew and who he may have spoken with about the targeting of Wilson and his

While Prosecutor Fitzgerald continues his investigation, it would seem an
obligation of the Congress to conduct an investigation into how the intelligence
used to justify the war was falsified, and the process by which the White House
and State Department became embroiled in a scheme to target Wilson, rather than to
seeking to deal with the serious problem of faulty intelligence becoming the basis
for important policy decisions.

Several Congressmen have indicated they want such a legislative investigation.
Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
describes how he has been requesting such an investigation over a long period of
time, but the request has been ignored by the Republican Chairman of the

Finally, on Nov. 1, 2005, the Democratic Minority Leader of the Senate, Harry
Reid, invoked a little used rule -- Rule 21 -- to close the Senate to the public
and to demand that the Republican leadership agree to an investigation of how the
White House became involved in presenting and protecting fraudulent intelligence
as the pretext for the Iraq war. After a two-hour session, the Senate came out of
their closed session announcing that there would be an investigation and that
there would be a public report made available by Nov. 14, 2005.

Not only is the White House continuing to protect the fraudulent intelligence, but
leaders of the Republican Party, like Senator Roberts and Senator Bill Frist, make
it necessary to take extraordinary measures like invoking Rule 21 before they will
agree to a Senate investigation of the fraudulent intelligence.

Similarly, in the House of Representatives, Henry Waxman has been trying to have
an investigation conducted by the House. He has sent numerous letters and made
numerous requests for information. But the needed investigation is stymied in the
House as well as in the Senate. (3)

Other congressmen like John Conyers are calling for action on the part of
Congress. Conyers has directed the Judiciary Committee staff to conduct an
investigation. (4)

Another congressman, Dennis Kucinich, introduced a Resolution of Inquiry demanding
that documents relevant to an investigation of the White House activities be
turned over to Congress. (5) His demand was that the White House turn over "all
white papers, minutes, notes, emails or other communications kept by the White
House Iraq Group (WHIG) to the Congress." Action is to be taken on his demand in
14 legislative days from the date it was introduced.

Waxman and five other congressmen have been calling for enforcement of Executive
Order 12958 whereby unauthorized disclosure of classified information is grounds
for losing one's security clearance. (6)

Not only were members of the staff of the White House, the State Department and
the U.S. press involved in actions to present faulty intelligence as the basis for
the Iraq war, but even afterwards they have been part of the process of targeting
critics challenging that intelligence. The intelligence agencies in other
countries like Italy also appear to have become parties to this crime.

Fitzgerald is continuing his investigation for criminal violations of the law. An
investigation into the role by the Italian intelligence agency into the creation
of the forged documents about Iraq seeking to buy yellowcake from Niger is being
carried out in Italy.

Discussion continues online on Web sites, blogs, and Usenet newsgroups, exploring
the serious questions raised by these revelations about White House activities.
What activities took place to create the faulty intelligence, to bring it to the
U.S. Congress in order to get a vote authorizing a war against Iraq, and then to
take this faulty intelligence to the American people and to the U.N., to seek
domestic and international support for the war? How were these activities carried
out? Who was involved and what role did they play? What are the implications of
finding out that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction, that they were falsely
accused, and that a serious set of activities were set in motion to create this
fraudulent picture? And then when the fraud was challenged, why was the messenger
challenging the lies targeted?

The U.S. government claimed it was invading Iraq to bring democracy to the Iraqi
people. But don't these revelations demonstrate that the U.S. government has
failed to act in a democratic way toward its own citizens or even toward Congress?

Similarly, people in other countries who are following these revelations about the
activities carried out by the occupants of the White House, and witnessing the
lengths they will go to in order to cover up their deeds, are seriously concerned
about the spread of such corruption to government officials in their countries who
try to model themselves on the activities of the U.S. government.

Whether or not the U.S. Congress can find a way to conduct the needed
investigation remains to be seen. However, if no thorough investigation leading to
indictments occurs, illusions that the U.S. government is a model of democratic
practice will be shattered.


(1) Libby indictment

(2) Larisa Alexandrovna and Jason Leopold, "Bolton's chief of staff gave
information on outed agent to Libby, lawyers involved in leak case say
*Rawstory*, Nov. 2, 2005

(3) Henry Waxman, "Rep. Waxman Renews Request for Hearing on Leak Case



"A Resolution of Inquiry is a rare House procedure used to obtain documents from
the Executive Branch. Under House rules, Kucinich's resolution is referred to
committee, and action must be taken in committee within 14 legislative days."

(6) Jonathan Alter, "Is Rove a Security Risk?
<>" *Newsweek*, Nov. 2, 2005

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