Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Rove Walks

Why is Karl Rove walking away from federal charges the least bit surprising? Was there ever any question that he would be protected from any reciprocity? Haven't these scandals always left the real culprits unscathed?

From John Adams and the XYZ Affair where bribes were paid to French diplomats, to Warren Harding's Teapot Dome scandal, deep rooted corruption has always gone largely unchecked in our government. They always put the screws to some patsy, but the power mongers who orchestrate everything walk. Who got nailed for Watergate? G. Gordon Liddy, a flunky FBI agent who was more than happy to blur the lines between duty and politics and a handful of henchmen, but Nixon resigned and was pardoned. Did any heavy hitters take the fall in the Iran Contra affair? Nope. Ollie North did some time but after he got out he was rewarded by those who appreciated him taking the fall and not naming names. He ran for office, writes a column and hosts a radio show.

What is surprising in this is the fact that Karl Rove is one of those peripheral characters who is normally offered up as a sacrifice when a scandal goes public. The Plame Affair has been linked to administration heavy Dick Cheney but as of right now the only head to roll is the one belonging to Scooter Libby. The fact that Rove is getting a pass reveals that he has a much stronger hold over this administration than anybody previously thought.

The Plame affair is a big deal. Valerie Plame's position as an active CIA operative was exposed in retaliation for her husband, Ambassador Joe Wilson, alleging that Bush was trying to offer bogus evidence as proof of Saddam Hussein's attempts to acquire weapons grade uranium. In fact, it took only a few days for Plame's CIA affiliation to be released after Wilson commented on the evidence.

It was a childish act of retaliation, but it sets a dangerous precedent. While it seems safe to assume that Plame wasn't a deep cover operative who was dispatched to corners of the globe to assassinate enemies and sabotage plans, the fact that CIA operations could be compromised for spite by the very men elected and appointed to guard against breaches of national security is cause for concern.

Furthermore this issue has challenged our understanding of the first amendment. Instead of accepting full responsibility for the leak, the Bush Administration has allowed some blame to be shifted on the press. Now there is serious discussion about imposing criminal charges on journalists who leak issues of national security.

That's just wrong. The press doesn't take an oath to uphold national security. In fact, the very nature of the press is the exact opposite. Reporters are supposed to be terrible at keeping secrets and nobody should expect anything they tell a reporter to remain in confidence. If that changes the press becomes censored and information falls under the control of the government. That is the ultimate form of corruption. The Bush administration is using the Valerie Plame affair, a scandal they created, to attack the media and limit the power of the press.

We expect our elected officials to uphold our national security. We trust them to hire qualified people to manage our nation's secrets and pay handsomely to ensure that said security is maintained through the worst possible scenarios. Valerie Plame wasn't a major player in the intelligence game, but the fact that this Administration would compromise the integrity of the CIA's security to retaliate against a former ambassador who dared to question the Bush Administration proves that our elected officials don't take security very seriously. How far will they go to lash out at their political enemies?

At the very least Dick Cheney should resign over this, but we know better than to expect something so appropriate. After all this is the same guy who got drunk, shot a buddy and hid from the police until his BAC was under control. Why would we expect Cheney to be a stand up guy and admit that he pulled the trigger on Valerie Plame? Even though Cheney should have taken the heat over this thing, we knew it wasn't going to happen.

The bottom line is that the Bush Administration has no qualms about being wicked. They lie, cheat and steal and don't care who knows it. They have surrounded themselves with those who never question them and even have a media network that happily obfuscates the truth for them. In spite of this country's long sordid past with scandal, this current administration has taken things to a new low. These guys aren't just corrupt, they're plain dirty and they don't care who knows it.

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