Thursday, November 03, 2005

Empty Nest Syndrome 

News has been plentiful and posting has been light for the last few days, so just to recap: the President's approval ratings are sitting at a Nixonian 35%, and that figure looks downright robust compared to the real President's 19%. (Draft Cheney in '08!) Moreover, fifty percent of Americans would support a Democratic filibuster against Mr. Bush's latest Supreme Court Nominee, right-wing freakazoid Sam Alito. Someone must have slipped those numbers to the Democratic leadership of the Senate, who have traditionally deferred to Republican mob rule for fear of alienating a putative handful of "centrist" voters; as a result of a dramatic procedural maneuver by Harry Reid, the Senate will finally undertake the investigation into the Bush team's patent misuse of prewar intelligence that Senator Pat Roberts and co. promised well over a year ago, managed to forestall until the '04 elections were safely behind us, and no doubt hoped to forget about altogether.

DeLay is under indictment. Libby is under indictment. Frist's financial records have been subpoenaed by the SEC. Rove remains in "legal jeopardy." Brownie's e-mails have just gone public; while New Orleans was sinking into the Gulf, Mr. Bush's FEMA chief was proclaiming himself a "fashion god." Administration apologists who said that the Iraq death toll of 2,000 servicepeople was insignificant -- "no milestone," "just another number," etc. -- proved to be correct; mere days later the total stands at 2037. And, if America's reputation needed further blackening, it transpires that Messrs. Rumsfeld and Goss have been operating a chain of rape rooms and torture chambers in unspecified Eastern European countries.

How can Georgie get his Teflon back? Even Republicans are now calling for the President to shitcan a few bad apples, if only for appearances' sake, in hopes of restoring his magical bond with the (unfortunately wised-up) public. The problem is, where to start? The Bush administration is riddled with corruption and venality from top to bottom. Sure, Mr. Bush could fire all the crooks, liars and traitors who work beneath him, but he'd be awfully lonely in that big old White House all by himself, with no one to talk to but Laura and Barney. It would be like keeping the figurehead and losing the ship.

Oh, and before we forget -- if you've been waiting to learn what part our U.N. Ambassador, recess appointment John Bolton, played in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame, your wait is over:
The 22-page indictment posted on Fitzgerald's website Friday says that on May 29, 2003 Libby "asked an Under Secretary of State ('Under Secretary') for information concerning the unnamed ambassador's travel to Niger to investigate claims about Iraqi efforts to acquire uranium yellowcake. The Under Secretary thereafter directed the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research to prepare a report concerning the ambassador and his trip. The Under Secretary provided Libby with interim oral reports in late May and early June 2003, and advised Libby that Wilson was the former ambassador who took the trip."

News reports have identified the Undersecretary as Marc Grossman. This is technically correct, in that he is the one who had received the June 10, 2003 classified Intelligence and Research memo for Libby about Wilson's Niger trip, in addition to information about Plame's covert CIA status and her relationship to Wilson.

But the attorneys said that two former Libby aides, John Hannah and David Wurmser, told the special prosecutor that Libby had actually first contacted Bolton to dig up the information. Wurmser, who worked as a Middle Eastern affairs aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, was on loan from Bolton's office . . . .

In addition, sources say that the memo was written on Libby's behest as part of a work-up order orchestrated out of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG), which operated out of the Cheney's office and was chaired by Special Advisor to President Bush, Karl Rove . . . .

The attorneys also said that Frederick Fleitz, Bolton's chief of staff and concurrently a senior CIA Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation and Arms Control official, supplied Bolton with Plame's identity. Bolton, they added, passed this to his aide, Wurmser, who in turn supplied the information to Hannah.

Upon receiving this information, Libby asked Bolton for a report on Wilson's trip to Niger, which Wilson presented orally to the CIA upon his return. Fleitz was one of a handful of officials who was in a position to know Plame's maiden name, the sources said.
(Thanks to our stouthearted colleagues at Cursor for most of the above links.)

UPDATE: AmericaBlog reports that, according to a new ABC poll, 59% of Americans think Karl Rove should resign. 55% believe the administration intentionally misled the country in making the case for war.

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