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Patrick Fitzgerald's Diary: Watching Them Flop, Squirm, Flip

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Bernard Weiner
Message Bernard Weiner
Dear Diary:

This is like shooting fish in a barrel. Of course, I'd heard about the incompetence of this White House crew -- and the arrogance that makes them so sloppy in covering their tracks -- but despite their lies and amateurish attempts to conceal their involvement, their fingerprints are all over the place.

Rove as the Genius, the Architect, the Ringmaster, running a tight ship with no leaks? These dangerous clowns are total screw-ups. And wimps. Many are willing to finger each other big time to escape the felony counts, or at least lessen their criminal liability. It's embarrassing to watch them flopping around, sending out their lawyers to drop a dime on a fellow conspirator.

Getting some of them to flip on their superiors and colleagues was fairly easy. I just let them have a whiff of what was in store for them unless they agreed to cooperate -- the possibility of long prison terms does concentrate the mind -- and, voila, first one and then another and then another eagerly took the bait. Even Rove and Libby, through the press, are playing "hot potato," trying to make sure the other guy is caught holding it. In short, it's the night of the long knives in the Bush Administration.

I've readied myself for the slime attack, but the fact that I'm a loyal Republican, appointed by the Bush Administration itself -- and giving me, in writing, full powers to follow the crime trail wherever it leads -- offers some protection. The initial Bush talking-points are really silly -- that I'm engaged in "criminalizing politics," or that I'm a "son of a doorman," as if that class-biased epithet is some sort of terrible slur, or that I've "run amok" and am going after this crew for minor violations of law, "technicalities" like perjury and obstruction of justice. If that's the best they can come up with, they are truly pathetic. (But not surprising; check out Karen Hughes demonstrating her gross ignorance of foreign affairs while touring Indonesia last week, claiming Saddam gassed "hundreds of thousands" of Iraqis! This gang can't shoot straight, think straight, maybe even pee straight.)


A digression, diary, for some practical thoughts here: Will Bush order Gonzales to quash the sealed indictments and fire me before I can take this White House crew to trial? I know Bush is dumb, but I don't think he's stupid. Look what happened to Nixon when he fired the Watergate special prosecutor, Archibald Cox. Or maybe Bush will consider pre-emptively exercising the presidential pardon-power, as his father did in the Iran-Contra scandal years ago, even before any charges were filed; BushSr. got away with it in the last months of his presidency, maybe Jr. will wonder whether he should try it with three years to go. He might figure: "What have I got to lose? I can only be impeached once, and this way there won't be any trials I'll be subpoenaed to testify at, thus taking me out of perjury-jeopardy. "

On the other hand, Bush and the GOP leaders know that if he attempts to fire me or hand out blanket pardons in this case, the American people wouldn't put up with that kind of obvious save-your-ass, dictatorial behavior, and that would be the end of Republican political dominance for a decade or more. Republicans supporting Bush would lose any hope for re-election in 2006, and they know it.

No, I think the GOP legislators and behind-the-scenes movers and shakers (symbolized by Brent Scowcroft's frontal attack on the Bush Administration this week) will agree to throw the big guys and neo-cons overboard -- maybe even support an impeachment resolution -- and hope they can recoup their investment with more intelligent, competent conservatives.

Maybe Bush is hoping that by dumping Rove and Libby -- and even Cheney if it comes to that (resigning for "health reasons," of course ) -- he'll be able to stanch the bleeding just below him: a kind of political tourniquet. Throwing Haldeman and Ehrlichman over the side didn't work for Nixon, but it did buy him a bit of time until the inevitable reckoning. Probably wouldn't work for Bush either -- without Rove, he's flailing -- but what other options does he have for ultimate distraction other than bombing or invading another country? Rice has offerred the scenario and the likely country: Syria. Don't want to "weaken" a President during "wartime" -- that would be the operative spin.


Even with all those political pressures and dangers aimed my way, I love this job. I love watching leaders in positions of power squirm and sweat when they realize we've got the goods on them and they'd better come clean if they want to save their necks. Politicians and corporate honchos are my favorites, since they rarely deal with anyone other than yes-men and fawning supporters and aren't all that proficient in destroying evidence.

I'm glad I'm a Chicago kind of guy. We've seen big-league corruption for decades and know what it smells like and how to deal with it. These Texas types, thinking they could simply bring their bullying and corruption and lies into the nation's capital, got away with their in-your-face act for a long time, but eventually ran into the brick wall of reality and D.C. hardball. I'm proud to be part of that wall.

Not that I like taking down leaders of my own party, but what they were doing to Republican traditions sickened my stomach. At times, looking at the evidence of how the Bush Administration operated, I felt like I was in Stalinist Russia or something, with the leadership running roughshod over the laws, the Constitution, approving state-sanctioned torture, and sending off to war hundreds of thousands of young soldiers on the basis of gross lies and deceptions.

Did they really not realize that the cover-up is always worse than the original crime, and is usually what gets political leaders into legal jeopardy? Did they really think that the case would stop with the few officials that participated in Ms. Plame's outing? It's always the same in these dirty scandals: Pull one thread and then another, and pretty soon the tapestry is gone and you've located the hole leading to the political sewer. Here it was the White House Iraq Group's relatiation against Ambassador Joseph Wilson to keep the truth from getting out about the WMD whoppers being used to con the Congress and American people into supporting a war against Iraq. They'd been planning that war for years, and they would let nothing upset their using Iraq as a staging ground for altering the Middle East's geopolitical realities and keeping control of the world's dwindling energy supplies.


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Bernard Weiner, Ph.D. in government & international relations, has taught at universities in California and Washington, worked for two decades as a writer-editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, and currently serves as co-editor of The Crisis Papers (more...)
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