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President George W. Bush used to complain that being president was “hard work,” but he has gotten over that. Now he says it “has been a fabulous experience.”
Why fabulous? Well, a good part of it has to do with his past.
When Bush screwed up royally – whether in his personal or business affairs – he had to suffer the humiliation of asking his father or his father’s friends (sometimes Arab friends) to bail him out.
But now? Wow! As president, young George has found he can escape accountability altogether.
Now when he screws up royally, he need not call Dad; George W. Bush is himself in control of all the levers he needs to pull in order to bail himself out. Is this a great country or what?
An invertebrate Congress has been a big help. But his greatest asset limiting his liability has been the kind of folk he has gotten to work for him. The kind like Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, Scooter Libby, whom he has no problem asking to lie for him, when required.
For Bush’s powers are formidable – as he showed when Libby, convicted perjurer and obstructer of justice, was about to go off to prison. The president commuted Libby’s sentence, sending a message to others who might be called on to lie for him to hang tough and count on commutation or pardon.
A president’s unlimited power to pardon serves as the ultimate trump card to keep friends and associates out of jail.
Even so, one key aide, former CIA Director and Medal of Freedom winner, George Tenet, can be forgiven for being somewhat apprehensive these days. For he has lied under oath regarding what Bush knew about the 9/11 attacks and how early Bush knew it.
Concealing pre-9/11 warnings that Bush received might have seemed like the smart play during the president’s first term when his popularity was high and few in Washington dared to stand up to him.
However, if the American voters choose to send vertebrates to the next Congress – or if the Justice Department starts taking seriously its duty to require honest testimony from senior government officials – Tenet may be looking at some jail time.
With the possibility of large changes in the political landscape early next year, all bets might be off.
As for Tenet’s potential legal jeopardy, let’s leave aside for now the obviously heinous – like running George W. Bush’s global Gestapo complete with secret prisons and torture chambers, a criminal enterprise that Tenet carved out of the operations directorate of the CIA.
Let’s pick a case of simpler, more familiar white-collar crimes – Libby-style perjury and obstruction of justice.
Credit to Rep. Dennis Kucinich, whose 35 Articles of Impeachment against Bush – specifically Articles 33 and 34 relating to the catastrophe of 9/11 – have freshened memories, stirred additional research and demonstrate why Tenet may be looking at some prison time.