Posted on Thursday 31 January 2008

One thing about evidence – it just doesn’t go away. Sensational T.V. has a field day with old evidence, old sperm that’s out-lived the babies it didn’t make convicting geriatric rapists after DNA testing. This summer on a trip to Africa we saw casts of footprints from a family walk in the lava dust millions of years ago. Last week, I saw several ancient Native American Trails in Alabama that antedated Columbus’s landing. The truth is always sitting there, waiting for someone to find it and let it see the light of day. One of those someones who is still looking for an aging unexposed truth is blogger emptywheel. Yesterday, she was writing about Karl Rove’s meddling in the work of the 911 Commission – illegal meddling. Today she’s back to the Libby Trial in pursuit of Vice President Dick Cheney’s role in the ‘outing’ of C.I.A. Agent Valerie Plame’s identity to discredit Joseph Wilson, her husband. On July 6th, 2003, Joseph Wilson had written:
Did the Bush administration manipulate intelligence about Saddam Hussein’s weapons programs to justify an invasion of Iraq? Based on my experience with the administration in the months leading up to the war, I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq’s nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat…
Cheney’s notes on Wilson’s op-ed are as visible as the footprints of those ancient African strollers. Later, when Scooter Libby was whining that the White House was protecting Karl Rove but not him, Cheney wrote the other note – a note that clearly implicates Cheney and Bush ["the Pres"] in the ‘outing’ of Ms. Wilson [Valerie Plame]. We all know now that they did expose Valerie Plame’s C.I.A. identity to discredit her husband. That’s no longer a question. Why aren’t they all behind bars, or impeached? Because no one could prove that they knew that Valerie Plame was a covert agent. That’s the point of emptywheel‘s post today – she’s looking for solid evidence that Cheney did know that Plame was a covert agent. What emptywheel has today is potential evidence. It would take another investigation to flesh it out – but there’s no ongoing official investigation to get at the truth.

Sometimes, evidence is not in what’s present, it’s what’s missing. That’s the part that Marcy’s post got me to thinking about this morning. In my professional life talking to patient’s about their lives, often the most important pieces of evidence were the things they left out. It’s like the Zen Master’s comment about art – that the most important part of a picture is the empty space. In Cheney’s marginalia, there are some prominent ommissions. Wilson said, …"some of the intelligence related to Iraq’s nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat." Cheney says nothing about that charge. His notes ask why Wilson was sent to Niger. He even proposes the far-fetched answer that Valerie Plame sent him on a junket. But Cheney doesn’t say, "we did not exaggerate the Iraqi threat!" Cheney’s later Talking Points were transcribed by Scooter Libby:
In this note, they’re trying to debunk the claim that the OVP was responsible for the C.I.A.’s interest in the Niger Yellowcake Uranium claims. Besides denying that he was the instigator of Wilson’s  trip and targetting Wilson’s wife, Cheney wanted to add that the State Department and the Department of Defense were also interested in the Niger story. But then he and Scooter rethought it, and wanted to get the C.I.A. to come to their defense on this point [VP: hold -> get agency to answer that]. Again, defensive talking points, attacking talking points, but nothing that says, "we did not exaggerate the Iraqi threat!" Of course we know that the reason for the omission is simple – they did exaggerate the Iraqi threat. Worse than that, they actually created an Iraqi threat that didn’t even exist.

What will come of all this evidence that President Bush and Vice President Cheney took us into a war of conquest based on lies – things we think they should have known were lies? Will Marcy Wheeler [emptywheel] or someone else ever prove that Cheney et al knew that Valerie Plame was a covert C.I.A. agent? Will anyone ever prove that Bush and Cheney knew that the Niger Uranium story was false? Then there’s a strange piece of the story that isn’t much mentioned. They sent NYT reporter Judith Miller with the military racing about the Iraqi hillsides looking for the fabled Weapons of Mass Destruction. Cheney even got personally involved in trying to find them, suggesting that he believed his own story. One can interpret these efforts as evidence that he actually thought Hussein had atomic bombs and chemical/biological weapons hidden all over Iraq. He could not have concluded that from the flimsy evidence they had, particularly since he was in the know about how shaky that evidence really was. So, he must’ve believed they’d find the bad stuff for other reasons. One can parse the possibile reasons ad nauseum, but they all suggest one simple thing – Dick Cheney was delusional. He had a fixed, false, belief that was unchanged by the evidence.

There are only a few choices that explain Cheney’s colossal misjudgement. That he’s just a guy that made a mistake isn’t really a option. His mammoth efforts at covering his tracks is evidence enough for that. So:
  1. Dick Cheney is a lying archcriminal
  2. Dick Cheney is crazy
  3. Dick Cheney is a crazy lying archcriminal
emptywheel is after the 1. possibility [or maybe the 3.]. I think the evidence points strongly towards 2. Whatever the right answer, the evidence just isn’t going to go away…
    January 31, 2008 | 12:10 PM

    In one of many books I’ve read about the Iraq war, I don’t remember which book it was but it had a couple of statements about David Kay the chief weapons inspector, that he got calls from Cheney in the middle of the night about where the weapons might be found. I know this sounds a little crazy but what if one of VPs people put some evidence out to be discovered and somebody stole it before the inspectors got there.

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