Friday, January 26, 2007

Thoughts about the Scooter Libby perjury trial.

Boy, the live-blogging, analysis, and commentary of the Libby trial over at FireDogLake has been riveting. There are a lot of very knowledgeable cookies that post and comment over there. I haven’t gotten a lot of work done in the last few days.

I have come to the conclusion that I don’t really care if ol’ Scooter gets significant jail time or not. Yes, I am fully convinced that he is guilty of the charges against him, which is lying under oath to a federal prosecutor. He was deliberately trying to hide what had occurred when Valerie Wilson’s identity as an undercover CIA agent was exposed.

However, even though that is what this trial is truly about, Libby’s lies under oath, there is a much bigger picture emerging here. That is, how this Administration, and in particular, the Office of the Vice President, was fixated and intent on undermining and smearing any critics of the Bush administration’s policies during the run-up to invading Iraq. It seems as if all the testimony in the first three days has been about how Scooter, under the direction of Dead-Eye Dick Cheney, went about trying to smear Joe Wilson in any way that they could. Personally, I don’t think they really intended to leak a covert CIA agent’s name. That probably was not intentional, at least the “covert” part of it. For some reason, these people thought that Wilson would be less believable if the country suspected that Wilson’s wife, Valerie, had “sent him on a junket”. As if people go on “junkets” to Niger. Junkets are when you go golfing in Scotland, not to an out-of-the-way place, even for Africa, like Niger. However, they WERE intent on smearing Joe Wilson in any way they could, and his wife seemed like a good way to do it.

That’s why this trial is really important to the American people. It is not to send a felon to jail. It is to expose the rotten underbelly of this administration and the lengths they would go to, and indeed went, to sell their war on whatever grounds they could find. Dick Cheney exhibited behavior that, in other circumstances, might get him classified as a stalker, complete with a recommendation to go see a good psychiatrist. “Maniacal” might not be too strong a word for Cheney’s behavior in this matter.

Until recently, the mainstream press and television has been unwilling, for whatever reasons, to say anything critical about Bush and his war. There have been some great people doing a lot of good work trying to uncover just how badly the country was mislead into this war. There are lots of great books on the subject. But the subject, even as a conversation, was not making any inroads into the broader consciousness of this country. People did not want to hear it. Bush loyalists cried “foul” and delivered slanderous accusations of treason on anyone who might offer up even the slightest criticism. They still don’t want to hear it. There was also a large block of people who probably supported the war based on what they were being told at the time, and don’t want to admit that they were wrong or might have been mislead. It takes some personal character to admit that you are wrong, and that is something that this country seems to be severely lacking these days.

But this trial might finally get out into the open about how badly this country was served by our elected officials. It is probably also going to expose how badly served we were by our national media. Reporters were either willing partners in the deceit, or just plain too gullible to know they were being had. I loved the revelation yesterday by Cathie Martin, who was a top assistant to Scooter Libby. She suggested that Cheney go on NBC’s “Meet the Press”, because that was a very good way to “get our message out”, and that they had used this method many times in the past. “Used” being the operative word here, as in “using a tool”. The press in the country has been used, and this administration knew how to do it well. They played the press like a Stradivarius. Even though there are several books out on the subject, such as “Lapdogs” and Marcy Wheeler’s “Anatomy of Deceit” (neither of which I have read but want to), no one besides the people who already believed what was in the books read them.

Maybe this trial will get the discussion about just exactly what did happen between September 11, 2001 and the day we invaded Iraq out into the open. Maybe the media will start doing their jobs, which is to be a watchdog, and stop being played for a fool. Maybe people will stop listening to people like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, who are just big windbags who make up whatever they need to make up that particular day in order to keep their entire reason for existence from collapsing.

Maybe this country will finally wake up and realize what has been done in our collective name by this incompetent, psychotic, power hungry freakshow that we currently have residing in the White House. Thank the Powers That Be that Congress no longer is such a patsy, going along with anything Bushco wants to do and obstructing any effort to get at the truth.

Maybe this trial will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back regarding this entire mess.

(Please go over to FireDogLake and check out the outstanding coverage of the Libby trial. It feels like watching history unfold in real time, right before your eyes.)

UPDATE: Here is a great story in the WaPo by Dana Milbank about how the White House routinely manipulates the press. I bet there are some red faces around D.C. this morning.

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