W. David Jenkins III: Scandal? What Scandal?
Scandal? What Scandal?
By W. David Jenkins III
"Even though I'm a tranquil guy now at this stage of my life, I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious, of traitors."
- George H.W. Bush, April 16, 1999, Dedication Speech, George Bush Center for Intelligence
"I expect you to meet the highest ethical standards, avoiding not only violations of law, but even the appearance of impropriety. . . . There is no excuse for arrogance and never a reason for disrespect toward others. I expect each of you . . . . to be an example of humility and decency and fairness."
- George W. Bush, Jan. 22, 2001, at the swearing in of his White House staff.
Well, I guess that request didn't work out now, did it?
Usually I like to wait until the smoke starts to clear but the bombs have been going off like crazy in the last week or so. Kind of makes you wonder what the heck is going on down there in DeeCeeVille. I mean, things are coming out of left field so fast that it's starting to upset those who can't get the latest update on Scott Peterson!
In the last week or so we've learned that:
No bid contracts for Halliburton were approved through the offices of one of their former employees, Veep Cheney ("nuh-uh", says he).
Then Pentagon Pet, Ahmed "I know where the WMDs are" Chalabi, gets his office ransacked and gets his backside booted out of little Bush's good graces. Then American intelligence folks start up a rumor that Chalabi had tipped off the Iranians that we were onto their communication code, which raises the annoying question, "Well, if he did then who told him?" This prompted Bush to remark how he hardly knew the guy anyway and had only "met him a few times" - shades of Kenny Boy Lay!
Speaking of Enron, how about those audio tapes, huh? Who knew that rigging an energy crisis could be so funny?
A couple of days ago, Bush felt the need to get a lawyer from the old Iran/Contra scandal days to help him out concerning the reports that several witnesses testified that he knew Valerie Plame was going to be "outed" - and he did nothing to stop it. Now Bush says, through Scott McClellan, that he's just eager to cooperate with the investigation (whoa, there's a first!) and get to the bottom of all this - just as soon as he gets back from seeing the protests in Europe.
Then, the very next day, George Tenet has a going away party at CIA headquarters for "personal reasons."
Now this is only a smattering of what's been going on in the last week. I thought the Bush Gang looked sick to their stomachs back in March but things have just gone steadily downhill since then. First the 9/11 commission, the Iraq hearings, a string of damning books by former insiders, Abu Ghraib (Aboo-Garriby in Bush speak) and the revelation that it wasn't just a "few bad apples" nor was it just Abu Ghraib - one wonders what else is hiding around the corner for these bozos. It also makes you wonder how many tap shoes these folks have worn out trying to stay out of trouble.
Right about here is where I've usually blasted away at the media for downplaying - if not outright ignoring - the dubious doings of this corrupt group of people, but I have to admit I haven't seen much of Scott, Kobe or Martha today. It's been quite refreshing, thank you. Even so, I'm sure while Junior is away in his European bubble far away from any mean things which might upset his widdle head or tummy, the actual powers in the White House will be hard at work to "fix" everything yet again. And Tenet's ouster seems like a good place to start.
The Bush Gang's relationship with the CIA has always been a matter of convenience. Intelligence was there to serve the misguided policies and that was pretty much that. And when things don't pan out for the Bushies' version of reality, the CIA (or fellow fall-guy, Colin Powell) usually gets the blame. It's kind of a strange way to treat your dad's former employer, don't you think?
Just like Richard Clarke, another Clinton holdover in the new Bush administration, Tenet was obviously not taken seriously enough by his new bosses as he wasn't sufficiently obsessed with all things Iraq. In the months prior to September 11, according to Clarke, Tenet was the guy in the running suit and the book of matches tearing up the White House halls with his "hair on fire" trying to warn anyone who would listen that something big was going to happen soon.
And when the first tower was hit that terrible morning, it was Tenet whose worst fears ended up being confirmed. It's a shame nobody listened to him. "Sure, George, but what have you guys got on Saddam? He's the real bad guy!" So, in the months after 9/11, Tenet's gang tried to follow orders and fill out the shopping list on Iraq that Wolfowitz, Cheney and Rumsfeld so desperately wanted. They needed a connection to al Qaeda via Iraq and back to 9/11 in order to give some firm foundation to all the saber-rattling they'd been doing since the tragedy. Bush, by his own admission, had "hit the trifecta" and, by golly, they were going to get their money's worth out of it no matter what the facts were!
Well, we all know that the facts the CIA assembled didn't quite work out the way the Bush Gang wanted so they basically told Tenet that if his people couldn 't get the information they needed, then they would start their own intelligence department deep inside the Pentagon. This would allow them to read existing intelligence the "right way" and, thus, give them what they needed to invade Iraq. Of course, now that Iraq has proven to be a complete botch up in these guys' hands, they turn around and blame Tenet's intelligence.
Although I doubt there are any angels in the CIA, including Tenet, I don't think he deserves the treatment he will most likely receive in the coming months. We can be sure that his resignation will be the Rovian "cure-all" for the ever-increasing mess the Bush White House finds itself in. With what promises to be searing condemnations of the intelligence community coming out of the 9/11 and Iraq reports, the Bush people can simply step out of the shadow of duplicity and announce, "Yeah, well, he's gone now so let's move on." If Tenet is guilty of anything, it's that he allowed himself to be reduced to little more than a "slam dunk" messenger in an effort to tell all the president's men what they wanted to hear.
The most curious thing about this latest development is the timing. We're supposed to be facing the Summer of Terror and, as it stands right now, we're still having an election this fall. The excuse of "personal reasons" just doesn't pass the Dan Burton smell test. And when you mix in the fact that Bush needs a lawyer because someone in his White House committed a federal crime by outing Valerie Plame, one of Tenet's people, things begin to smell even worse. Now, deputy director for operations, James Pavitt, has announced that he's "outta here" too? And just because these two guys resigned within hours of each other, don't go thinking there's any connection. Besides, administration officials said there was no connection, so just drop it. We're at war, y'know?
Between 9/11, Iraq, prison tortures, a botched up invasion and now, the ongoing investigation into White House activity that the president's "Poppy" described as traitorous years ago, it's become quite obvious that the Bush Gang has overwhelmingly failed at the "impression of impropriety" goals they set for themselves. And I'm sure that the Bush squawkers will spend the summer a la South Park's officer Barbrady with their "Move along! Nothing to see here!" routine. I don't know but if you ask me, I think we're in for one hell of an interesting summer.
Go ahead, sniff the air. Do you smell that?