[republished at PFP with Agence Global permission.]
Former White House spokesman Scott McClelland has released
portions of his forthcoming book indicating that George Bush and Dick
Cheney are implicated in the cover up of the administration's leak of
CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity.
The only question is whether the current Congress is up to the task of holding the 43rd president to account.
McClellan has revealed, in a section from an upcoming book on his
tenure in the Bush-Cheney White House, is a stunning indictment of the
president and the vice president. The former press secretary is
confirming that Bush and Cheney not only knew that Rove, the
administration's political czar, and Libby, who served as Cheney's top
aide, were involved in the scheme to attack Wilson's credibility -- by
outing the former ambassador's wife, Valerie Plame, as a Central
Intelligence Agency analyst -- but that the president and vice
president actively engaged in efforts to prevent the truth from coming
"The most powerful leader in the world had called upon
me to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility he lost amid the
failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So I stood at the
White house briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg
lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of
the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby,"
writes McClellan in an excerpt from his book, What Happened, which is
to be published next April by Public Affairs.
"There was one
problem," the long-time Bush aide continues. "It was not true. I had
unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest
ranking officials in the administration "were involved in my doing so:
Rove, Libby, the vice president, the president's chief of staff, and
the president himself."
Much has been made about the fact
that outing Plame as a CIA operative was a felony, since knowingly
revealing the identity of an intelligence asset is illegal. And much
will be made about the fact that McClellan's statement links Bush and
Cheney to the cover-up of illegal activities and the obstruction of
justice, acts that are themselves felonies.
But it is
important to recognize that a bigger issue is at stake. If the
president and vice president knowingly participated in a scheme to
attack a critic of their administration -- Wilson had revealed that the
White House had been informed that arguments Bush and Cheney used for
attacking Iraq were ungrounded -- they have committed a distinct sort
of offense that the House Judiciary Committee has already determined to
be grounds for impeachment.
In the summer of 1974, Democrats
and Republicans on the committee voted overwhelmingly to recommend the
impeachment of President Richard Nixon for having "repeatedly engaged
in conduct violating the constitutional rights of citizens, impairing
the due and proper administration of justice and the conduct of lawful
inquiries, or contravening the laws governing agencies of the executive
branch and the purposed of these agencies."
article of impeachment against Nixon detailed the president's
involvement in schemes to use the power of his position to attack
political critics and then to cover up for those attacks.
current chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Michigan Democrat John
Conyers, voted for the impeachment of Nixon on those grounds.
and his colleagues need to recognize that, despite House Speaker Nancy
Pelosi's aversion to presidential accountability, McClellan's statement
demands the sort of inquiry and action that Dean's statements regarding
Nixon demanded three decades ago.
As former Common Cause
President Chellie Pingree notes with regard to Bush, "The president
promised, way back in 2003, that anyone in his administration who took
part in the leak of Plame's name would be fired. He neglected to
mention that, according to McClellan, he was one of those people. And
needless to say, he didn't fire himself. Instead, he fired no one,
stonewalled the press and the federal prosecutor in charge of the case,
and lied through his teeth."
Pingree, a savvy government
watchdog who is bidding for an open House seat representing her native
Maine, argues that the Judiciary Committee must subpoena McClellan as
part of a renewed investigation of the Wilson case.
She is right about that.
She is right, as well, when she concludes that, if what
McClellan says is true "it will call into question the legitimacy of
the entire administration. And we may see a changing of the guard at
the White House sooner than expected."
That changing of the
guard -- via the Constitutional process of impeachment and trial for
their various and sundry high crimes and misdemeanor -- is long overdue.
is Washington correspondent for The Nation magazine.
Copyright Â© 2007 The Nation
Released: 21 November 2007
Word count: 854
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Released: 21 November 2007
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