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William Rivers Pitt: Something to Choke On, Again

Something to Choke On, Again

By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Monday 01 August 2005

I don't know but I been told,
If the horse don't pull, you got to carry the load.
I don't know whose back's that strong,
Maybe find out before too long.
One way or another ...
One way or another ...
One way or another ...
This darkness got to give.

-- Robert Hunter

There have been two bad moments looming over the horizon for the last couple of weeks. One is still in the offing, and a lot of people who have been watching and working the details should prepare themselves for the ram. The other went down this morning, and a lot of good folks are choking on their own rage right now.

One will center around Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, who has been surprisingly diligent and effective in his investigation into who outed deep-cover CIA agent Valerie Plame. His diligence and effectiveness have been surprising, it should be noted, because he has been the only person in government lo these last five years who has actually and sincerely attempted to uncover and unravel the nest of lies, deceptions and bare-faced criminal actions of the Bush administration.

That means, of course, that he has got to go. GOP defenders of Bush, Rove and Libby have been lining up salvos against Fitzgerald should he continue to evidence his unfortunate streak of moral clarity. As Joe Conason reported in the New York Observer last week, "Circled in a bristling perimeter around the White House, the friends and allies of Mr. Rove can soon be expected to fire their rhetorical mortars at Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor investigating the White House exposure of CIA operative Valerie Wilson. Indeed, the preparations for that assault began months ago in the editorial columns of The Wall Street Journal, which has tarred Mr. Fitzgerald as a 'loose cannon' and an 'unguided missile.'"

"Evidently," continued Conason, "Senator Pat Roberts, the Kansas Republican who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, will lead the next foray against the special prosecutor. This week the Senator's press office announced his plan to hold hearings on the Fitzgerald probe. That means interfering with an 'ongoing investigation,' as the White House press secretary might say, but such considerations won't deter the highly partisan Kansan."

This was to be expected. The word "Irony" was deleted from the GOP Dictionary many years ago, along with words like "Shame" and "Hypocrite." These fellows achieved their lofty status in no small part because of a genuinely loose-cannon investigator named Starr, who burned five years of our lives leaping from land deals to consensual sex in a Puritanical crusade that had more to do with the 2000 election and stalling out an effective Democratic administration than anything else.

Attacks against Fitzgerald won't do a great deal of damage to the investigation, or to Fitzgerald, by themselves. But they will help to increase the volume as we cycle towards the endgame. You see, Fitzgerald's term as Special Counsel expires in October. Former Republican Senator Peter Fitzgerald, no relation, intimated in a recent interview that House Speaker Denny Hastert is auguring towards making sure the pesky investigator is not granted an extension of his investigative term.

Can Bush and his congressional allies survive the resulting howls of indignation if Fitzgerald and his investigation are stuffed in a soft-shoe version of the Saturday Night Massacre? Well, considering the fact that they have thus far survived a disastrous invasion of Iraq, 1,796 dead American soldiers, shameless profiteering from corporations umbilically connected to the White House, Enron, tax cuts that eviscerated the budget, and the murder of about 3,000 people in New York and Washington right under their noses, and all that just for starters, the idea that dumping Fitzgerald will do any harm to the administration can pretty safely be filed under "Pipe Dream."

And then there is the wildly unqualified and wretched Mr. John Bolton. Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control during Bush's first term, had his nomination as UN Ambassador stalled by Senate Democrats for several months. Bolton, it has been revealed, not only treats his underlings the way Tamerlane treated India, but was a central figure in the manipulation of WMD evidence to justify the invasion of Iraq. It was Bolton who played traffic cop for the false Iraq data coming from the Office of Special Plans. He is, basically, the worst possible human to send to the United Nations as the representative of the United States.

The Washington Post warned on Saturday that, "The White House signaled yesterday that President Bush is likely to circumvent the Senate and install John R. Bolton as U.N. ambassador without a confirmation vote, provoking anger among Democratic lawmakers even as they consider the president's Supreme Court nominee. Bush will be free to use his recess appointment power as soon as Congress leaves town this weekend, and the White House has told allies to expect such a move, possibly before the president heads to Crawford, Tex., on Tuesday for his own summer break. A recess appointment would put Bolton at the United Nations until the next Congress convenes in January 2007."

Democratic reaction to this was vehement. "John Bolton is a person who, in his personal relationship with government employees, has been abominable, mean, unreasonable and bizarre," said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. Senator Chris Dodd, echoing Reid, said, "He's damaged goods. This is a person who lacks credibility. This would be the first U.N. ambassador since 1948 we've ever sent there under a recess appointment. That's not what you want to send up, a person that doesn't have the confidence of the Congress."

That and a dollar won't get you a Grande Whatever at the local Starbucks. It sure didn't stop Bush from appointing this cretin to represent us in that world body this morning, in a day when international cooperation is not only important, but vital to the safety and survival of our republic. Bolton is in now, and that's that.

A few quotes of note on recess appointments. "If they make a recess appointment, then I have to say, it's a finger in the eye of the Senate," said Orrin Hatch, the Republican Senator from Utah. Of course, he said that in 1997. Republican Minority Whip Don Nickles said, "If he really sticks his finger in the eye of the Senate as far as the confirmation process, he may not get another person confirmed. We don't have to confirm anybody next year." That was in 1999. Republican Senator James Inhofe said, "He has treated the Senate confirmation process as little more than a nuisance which he can circumvent whenever he wants to impose his will on the country." That was also in 1999.

But hey, why should we expect any different? "Irony," "Shame" and "Hypocrisy" were deleted from the playbook a long time ago. Karl Rove and Lewis Libby betrayed our national security by outing a CIA agent who was keeping weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of terrorists. They did this to keep the lid on the lies and disinformation being spread about the threat posed by Iraq. A good portion of those lies were put forth by John Bolton. Rove and Libby look as though they will walk away from their crimes once Fitzgerald is put out to pasture, and Bolton has slipped into the UN building by way of the back door.

It is what it is, and there is probably no stopping it. Perhaps, though, there is an object lesson in this. The American people are getting yet another IMAX-sized example of what happens in government when the powerful do not suffer accountability. Perhaps the American people will remember this when they go to the polls in the 2006 midterms. Until then, however, we will continue to choke on it.


William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know and The Greatest Sedition Is Silence.

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