[eDebate] questions about cheney remain

Jake Stromboli infracaninophile
Wed Mar 7 10:18:13 CST 2007

 thank god and jesus christ -- korcok and hineyland told was how fucking bad ass the bush administration was going to be back in the early 2000s -- they rode the wave of patriotism following 9/11 with nazi bravado but the only problem was they are fucking stupid puppets who will believe anything cheney says like iraq will tumble easy  without much thought --- they did a fucking badass job of regurgitating the think tank generated propaganda talking points and that amounted to straw men -- their endorsement of the criminals with a known history of deceit who just hadn't been caught yet was pathetic -- i hope that all of the first term bush administration supporters realize their complicity with the biggest fuck up in american history

 Questions About Cheney Remain
    By Sheryl Gay Stolberg
    The New York Times

    Wednesday 07 March 2007

    Washington - In legal terms, the jury has spoken in the Libby case. In political terms, Dick Cheney is still awaiting a judgment.

    For weeks, Washington watched, mesmerized, as the trial of I. Lewis Libby Jr. cast Vice President Cheney, his former boss, in the role of puppeteer, pulling the strings in a covert public relations campaign to defend the Bush administration's case for war in Iraq and discredit a critic.

    "There is a cloud over the vice president," the prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, told the jury in summing up the case last month.

    Mr. Cheney was not charged in the case, cooperated with the investigation and expressed a willingness to testify if called, though he never was. Yet he was a central figure throughout, fighting back against suggestions that he and President Bush had taken the country to war on the basis of flawed intelligence, showing himself to be keenly sensitive to how he was portrayed in the news media and backing Mr. Libby to the end.

    With Tuesday's verdict on Mr. Libby - guilty on four of five counts, including perjury and obstruction of justice - Mr. Cheney's critics, and even some of his supporters, said the vice president had been diminished.

    "The trial has been death by 1,000 cuts for Cheney," said Scott Reed, a Republican strategist. "It's hurt him inside the administration. It's hurt him with the Congress, and it's hurt his stature around the world because it has shown a lot of the inner workings of the White House. It peeled the bark right off the way they operate."

    The legal question in the case was whether Mr. Libby lied to investigators and prosecutors looking into the leak of the name of a C.I.A. operative, Valerie Wilson, whose husband, the former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, wrote an Op-Ed article in The New York Times accusing the White House of distorting pre-war intelligence. Mr. Cheney scrawled notes on a copy of the article, asking "did his wife send him on a junket?"

    Now, Mr. Cheney faces a civil suit from Mr. Wilson.

    The political question was whether Mr. Libby, the vice president's former chief of staff, was "the fall guy" for his boss, in the words of Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York. Though the defense introduced a note from Mr. Cheney worrying that Mr. Libby was being sacrificed to protect other White House officials, some say the vice president bears responsibility for the fate of his former aide, known as Scooter.

    "It was clear that what Scooter was doing in the Wilson case was at Dick's behest," said Kenneth L. Adelman, a former Reagan administration official who has been close with both men, but has broken with Mr. Cheney over the Iraq war. "That was clear. It was clear from Dick's notes on the Op-Ed piece that he wanted to go get Wilson. And Scooter's not that type. He's not a vindictive person."

    Mr. Cheney is arguably the most powerful vice president in American history, and perhaps the most secretive. The trial painted a portrait of a man immersed in the kind of political pushback that is common to all White Houses, yet often presumed to be the province of low-level political operatives, not the vice president of the United States.

    Prosecutors played a tape of Mr. Libby testifying to a grand jury that Mr. Cheney had asked Mr. Bush to declassify an intelligence report selectively so he, Mr. Libby, could leak it to sympathetic reporters. Mr. Cheney's hand-written scribbles were introduced into evidence at the trial, including the one that hinted Mr. Cheney believed that his own staffer, Mr. Libby, was being sacrificed.

    "'Not going to protect one staffer + sacrifice the guy who was asked to stick his neck in the meat-grinder because of the incompetence of others," the note read.

    Mr. Cheney's defenders insisted the vice president was not out to smear Mr. Wilson or even clear his own name, but simply to defend a policy he fiercely believed in.

    "There wasn't some Cheney strategy or Wilson strategy," said Mary Matalin, Mr. Cheney's former political director. "There was only one strategy: to convey the nature of the intelligence and the nature of the threat."

    Ms. Matalin said Mr. Cheney remained as influential as ever where it counts - with Mr. Bush.

    Still, liberal critics of the administration had a field day with the trial. They are hoping the Democrats who now control Congress will use the case to investigate Mr. Cheney's role further. Mr. Schumer, who was among the first to call for a special prosecutor in the case, suggested in an interview that they might.

    "I think there is a view in the public that Libby was the fall guy," Mr. Schumer said, "and I do think we will look at how the case shows the misuse of intelligence both before and after the war in Iraq."

    Such issues are already of intense interest to scholars, who say the Libby case will invariably shape Mr. Cheney's legacy.

    Historians typically pay scant attention to vice presidents, unless they become president. Mr. Cheney, though, is an exception. The historian Robert Dallek, who has written about presidents including Lyndon B. Johnson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy, predicts scholars will "be racing for vice-presidential records in a way that we've never seen before" to answer questions raised by the Libby trial.

    "It will deepen the impressions of someone who was a tremendous manipulator and was very defensive about mistakes," Mr. Dallek said, "and I think it will greatly deepen the impression of a political operator who knew the ins and outs of Washington hardball politics. He's going to be, I think, the most interesting vice president in history to study."

    On a personal level, friends of the vice president say the trial has been deeply painful for him. Mr. Libby and Mr. Cheney were all but inseparable - Ms. Matalin has called the former aide "Cheney's Cheney" - and often started their days by riding to work together. Mr. Libby accompanied the vice president almost everywhere he went, and Mr. Cheney made clear his high professional and personal regard for his aide, even playing host to a book party for him in 2002 at his official residence. Alan K. Simpson, a Republican former senator from Mr. Cheney's home state, Wyoming, said he saw Mr. Cheney over Christmas, and asked how the vice president was doing. He took the answer as a kind of oblique reference to the Libby case.

    "He said, 'I'm fine, I'm O.K., I have people I trust around me - it's the same old stuff, Al,'" Mr. Simpson recalled.

    Another friend of Mr. Cheney's, Vin Weber, a Republican former congressman, said the verdict had "got to be heartbreaking for the vice president." But Mr. Weber said he wished Mr. Cheney would explain himself.

    "I don't think he has to do a long apologia," Mr. Weber said, "but I think he should say something, just to pierce the boil a little bit."

    Instead, Mr. Cheney maintained his silence Tuesday. As the verdicts were being read, he went to the Capitol for the Republicans' regular weekly policy luncheon. Later, he issued a two-paragraph statement saying only that he was disappointed with the verdict, "saddened for Scooter and his family" and would have no further comment while an appeal is pending.

    With a career in politics that goes back to the Nixon White House, Mr. Cheney is no stranger to Washington scandal and how to weather it. Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said he went hunting with the vice president late last year and did not sense that the trial was bothering him.

    "He's got a thick hide," Mr. Graham said, "and he needs it."


 White House Already on the Defensive Takes Another Hit With Guilty Verdict
    By Jim Rutenberg
    The New York Times

    Wednesday 07 March 2007

    Washington - At midday on Tuesday, President Bush ushered two top aides into the Oval Office to watch an unhappy moment for his administration play out on live television: the first felony conviction of a member of his inner circle.

    Deep into his second term, Mr. Bush faces an array of political and policy problems that seem to be growing by the day. His once-powerful standing with the public has been leached away by the war in Iraq. His party, dogged by corruption charges, has lost power on Capitol Hill, leaving him exposed to a Democratic opposition that is now armed with subpoena power and the energy that comes from a good shot at recapturing the White House in 2008. His domestic agenda is stalled, and his foreign policy is constrained.

    The conviction on Tuesday of I. Lewis Libby Jr., the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney and assistant to the president, came in a week when Mr. Bush was already dealing with Congressional hearings into the administration's handling of health care for members of the military injured in the war and its removal of federal prosecutors from their jobs under circumstances that Democrats suggest could be politically motivated.

    Once again, Mr. Bush was put on the defensive about the underlying issue in the case, the administration's use of intelligence to justify the invasion of Iraq. And suddenly the White House was parrying questions about the possibility of a pardon for Mr. Libby.

    Current and former officials said in interviews that the trial was primarily a Washington fascination that had left the public confused as the investigation veered from accusations that officials had leaked the name of a confidential C.I.A. operative to rebut a war critic - her husband - to charges that Mr. Libby had lied to officials investigating them.

    But several acknowledged that the word "guilty" could greatly change the dynamic.

    "It does change things in the public's perception to some extent when a former high-level administration official is found guilty of a crime," said Scott McClellan, the former Bush press secretary. "It raises more questions in people's minds and increases their suspicions."

    Mr. McClellan said he would advise the White House to address the verdict directly, but Dana Perino, the deputy press secretary, said it would not, adding that the president was "saddened" for Mr. Libby and his family and that Mr. Bush had watched the verdict's announcement with his chief of staff, Joshua B. Bolten, and Dan Bartlett, the White House counselor. And another official said it seemed the president had been relatively isolated from the case, with testimony largely focusing on Mr. Cheney's office.

    Yet while the case never quite got into the Oval Office, it seemed to go right to the door.

    In his grand jury testimony, Mr. Libby said the president had secretly declassified crucial intelligence on Iraq for Mr. Libby's use, at the request of the vice president and without the knowledge of other ranking officials. White House officials have said Mr. Bush never knew exactly how Mr. Libby planned to use the information.

    The testimony also detailed how Karl Rove, the president's top political strategist, also discussed the C.I.A. operative, Valerie Wilson, with reporters, though the initial leak was tracked to Richard L. Armitage, the former deputy secretary of state.

    Much of the White House staff at the time was questioned by investigators in the case or testified to the grand jury or both. Mr. Bush was himself interviewed.

    And several of Mr. Bush's associates, including former Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans and former Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, served on the advisory committee of Mr. Libby's legal defense fund. That group said Tuesday that it was planning another fund-raising event for Mr. Libby.

    The trial has also pointed up divisions within Mr. Bush's administration, with Mr. Libby testifying how he on more than one occasion had not clued in other officials to what he was doing. Among the latter was Stephen J. Hadley, then the top deputy to Condoleezza Rice when she was national security adviser, the title he now holds.

    Sympathy for Mr. Libby among those with deep ties to the White House is widespread. "This is sickening" said Mary Matalin, Mr. Cheney's longtime counselor. "The system is broken."

    John R. Bolton, until two months ago the United States ambassador to the United Nations and a close associate of Mr. Cheney and Mr. Libby, said in an interview, "This is just not the way justice should be followed."

    The verdict contributed to the sense of a White House under siege, with good news scarce and Mr. Bush struggling to wield the presidential megaphone with the same success he did in his first term. Mr. Bush has just over 22 months left in office to regain his political footing.

    Kenneth M. Duberstein, a former chief of staff to President Ronald Reagan in his second term, said: "This is a day consumed by nine G.I.'s killed in Iraq, 100 Iraqis dying, the continuing Walter Reed investigation into the mistreatment of our returning heroes, and the Libby verdict - four out of five counts guilty. No matter how you spin it, this was a bad, bad, bad news day for this White House."


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