the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

October 28, 2005

A Cancer On the Presidency


It’s hard to come up with something new and relevant on the Libby indictiment. Still, I’ll give it a shot. On the News Hour, David Brooks said (from my notes, no transcript yet) “the indictment shows this was the work of a lone individual. There is no cancer on the presidency.”

There’s a couple of things that need pointing out. First off, the lack of an indictment, does not a lack of a conspiracy make.

Second, Libby was just one of the chief staffers who came up with the smear job on Wilson (Josh Marshall has scooped me on this, darn him):

22. On or about July 12, 2003, LIBBY flew with the Vice President and others to and from Norfolk, Virginia, on Air Force Two. On his return trip, LIBBY discused with other officials aboard the plane what Libby should say in response to certain pending media inquiries, including questions from Time reporter Matthew Cooper.

23. On or about July 12, 2003, in the afternoon, LIBBY spoke by telephone to Cooper, who asked whether LIBBY had heard that Wilson’s wife was involved in sending Wilson on the trip to Niger. LIBBY confirmed to COoper, without elaboration or qualification, that he had heard this information too. [ed: we now know that Karl Rove was Cooper’s primary source.]

Under ordinary circumstances you could write off the coordination of a press response as “politics as usual.” In the case of Libby this meant, as was confirmed today, a systematic effort to smear Joe Wilson. With the understanding that it meant exposing the identity of a covert agent. And make no mistake, the indictment makes it clear that a.) Valerie Plame was a covert agent. b.) Libby exposed her identity. c.) this isn’t the end of the story.

The final point I’d like to make is that Brooks’s statement misquotes history a bit. John Dean didn’t say “there’s a cancer on the presidency.” What he said is more reminiscent of the current situation:

I think, I think that, uh, there’s no doubt about the seriousness of the problem we’re, we’ve got. We have a cancer–within, close to the Presidency, that’s growing. It’s growing daily. It’s compounding, it grows geometrically now because it compounds itself.

I do get a strong whiff of history repeating itself here.

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