by Randolph T. Holhut
American Reporter Correspondent
November 30, 2007
SCOTT McCLELLAN PROVIDES ANOTHER REASON TO IMPEACH BUSH
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- With less than 14 months left in power, the Bush Administration is doing its best to make sure its members can escape town before the indictments are issued.
In a just world, President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney and all their minions would be standing in the dock at The Hague facing a war-crimes tribunal.
That day might still come, if what happened to Chile's Augusto Pinochet can serve as a legal precedent. In the meantime, we'll have to settle for impeachment.
Unfortunately, the Bush Administration has been blessed with a Congress unwilling to take on the White House and a news media too easily distracted by shiny baubles to do any real reporting.
Messrs. Bush and Cheney certainly hope they'll leave town unscathed. But little by little, the carefully built stone wall that has protected the Administration from prosecution is starting to crumble.
Last week, former White House press secretary Scott McClellan admitted that he made false statements, albeit unintentionally, regarding Mr. Bush's political advisor, Karl Rove, and Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby's involvement in the Bush Administration's plot to discredit former Ambassador Joseph Wilson.
Wilson, as you may recall, wrote a column in The New York Times in the summer of 2003 that debunked one part of the Administration's bogus case for invading Iraq - that Saddam Hussein was trying to buy yellowcake uranium from Niger.
To retaliate, Rove and Libby leaked the identity of Wilson's wife, CIA analyst Valerie Plame, to the press. According to McClellan, President Bush and Mr. Cheney, as well as Rove, Libby and then White House chief of staff, Andrew Card, were all involved in the plot.
McClellan stood before reporters in the summer of 2003 and said Rove and Libby were not involved in the leak. "There was one problem," McClellan writes in "What Happened," his upcoming book about his White House tenure. "It was not true. I had unknowingly passed along false information," adding that he did so on orders from Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, Rove, Libby and Card.
As for President Bush's promise at the time to fire anyone who was involved in the leak, needless to say nothing happened. No one was fired. The Administration did everything it could to block a full investigation. And when Libby was convicted earlier this year of lying to investigators, Mr. Bush promptly commuted Libby's sentence.
It is a federal felony offense to reveal the identity of an intelligence agent. If McClellan's statement is true and the five most powerful members of the Bush Administration were involved in not only the leak of Plame's identity, but also in the cover-up of illegal activities and obstruction of justice, those are impeachable offenses that were committed by Mr. Bush and Vice President Cheney.
This is why impeachment is not some crazy idea. If the President and Vice President not only knowingly participated in a plot to discredit a critic of the Administration, but also led the efforts to cover up what happened, they committed the same sort of misdeeds that prompted the House Judiciary Committee in 1974 to recommend articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon.
Nixon, who also used his office to attack his critics and then cover up what happened, resigned from office before the impeachment process could run its course.
There is virtually no chance of seeing either Mr. Bush or Mr. Cheney to the honorable thing and resign. But the Plame affair is merely the latest in a series of incidents that call into question the legitimacy of the Bush Administration. This is why the founders of our nation invented the impeachment process - to demand accountability when the president commits illegal acts.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team refuse to take action. The Democrats are afraid to take on the President out of fear that they'll be seen as partisan and vindictive.
The Democrats need to get over it. The question they need to ask is the same question that came up during the Watergate hearings that set the table for the articles of impeachment against Nixon: What did the President know and when did he know it?
It's time for Congress to start asking that question and for the White House to provide some truthful answers on the Plame affair, and the rest of the wrongdoing and criminality we've seen over the past six years.< Randolph T. Holhut has been a journalist in New England for more than 25 years. He edited "The George Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.