Friday, May 19, 2006

Calm before the storm?

By The (liberal)Girl Next Door

It is important that we look ahead to the next big outrage and be prepared to act instead of becoming stunned into silence. It is hard for many of us to believe just how much has happened over the last six years, much of it unprecedented in American history. We’ve had an election decided by the Supreme Court, a pre-emptive war, another election conducted using secret software and where critical votes in Ohio were counted behind closed doors, impeachable crimes committed by a President that Congress refuses to impeach. These are outrageous events, and their impact on democracy has been glossed over by the press, swept under the rug by Congress and simply accepted by the people. There are sure to be more outrageous events to come as Bush finishes out his term and it is our job to first be outraged, and then to act.

What could the next big outrage be? Well, considering that the noose is tightening in the CIA leak investigation, it could be that either Karl Rove or Richard Armitage will be indicted on the underlying charge of outing a covert CIA agent with Dick Cheney and possibly even Bush added as unindicted co-conspirators (this is purely speculation on my part and probably amounts to nothing more than wishful thinking). That would be justice served, but the outrageous part would be if the President and/or Vice President refused to resign and/or the Congress still refused to impeach. Logically we think, “that would never happen,” but with the litany of things we thought would never happen that have already occurred, we should at least prepare ourselves for the possibility.

The CIA leak case is huge. It is being conducted by perhaps the most efficient and dogged prosecutor in the country and it involves the compromise of national security by our own administration and the lies they peddled in an effort to justify their war of choice. It doesn’t get much bigger than that and the trail seems to lead to the very top.

Now, we all got a little excited last weekend when Jason Leopold posted his story about Rove being indicted, understandable since we’ve been waiting for that news for a long time. But whether Jason Leopold got it right or he was set up to take a fall, in the end is far less significant than the story that got lost in the shuffle. The real big story this week is that Dick Cheney’s handwriting is all over the smearing of Joe Wilson and the outing of Valerie Plame.

While we wait for the Karl Rove indictment, let’s focus on what we already know for sure, but that can’t be stated enough. Scooter Libby, the Vice President’s Chief of Staff, has already been indicted in the CIA leak case. By all accounts, Scooter and Shooter were connected at the hip, driving to work together in the morning and hatching their plans of destruction for the day. It simply defies logic that Cheney wasn’t directing this assault on Joe Wilson’s credibility in an effort to save his own. Remember that Cheney was on the front lines selling the fear of mushroom clouds to the American people so he could unleash shock and awe on Iraq. If we are convinced that the Vice President (along with Condi, Rummy and Bush) was lying about the administration's reasons for invading Iraq and that he would do anything to cover up those lies, chances are, Patrick Fitzgerald is convinced of it too.

Right now it feels like the calm before the storm, the media is eerily quiet on this matter and all we can do is wait. I hope that Patrick Fitzgerald’s investigation is as broad as possible, but that might not be in the cards. With Cheney’s handwritten notes suggesting a “junket” set up by “his wife” on a copy of Joe Wilson’s op-ed piece, it is clear that the Vice President is involved and Fitzgerald knows it. What he will be able to prove with the vast amounts of information that hasn’t yet been made public is another matter. Again, all we can do is wait, but we should use this time to prepare for the possibility that however shocking the revelations, charges and targets turn out to be, the press will continue to frame it in the best possible light for the administration, the Congress will continue to protect this White House and the people won’t really know what to think. If we prepare for this possibility, we will be more effective in encouraging our neighbors’ outrage and helping to turn public disgust into action.

The only way that this administration will let go of their power is if we wrestle it away from them. That means taking the opportunity to capitalize on the next big scandal and getting our friends, family and neighbors to go sit at the office doors of our Representatives in Congress and demand that they do something about it. Unlike the Republicans during the Nixon administration who were able to recognize that common decency required that they get on board with impeaching the President, current Republicans in DC have no such decency (and Democrats have no such courage) and it will require us pushing them to do the right thing. Most of us agree that Bush/Cheney should be impeached and there is certainly enough evidence to justify it. All we have to do now is convince our Congresspeople that there is no other option. We have let so many opportunities pass by already, we must be ready to make the most of the next one, whatever it turns out to be.


Update: Richard Armitage may not be in legal jeopardy, but may instead be a key witness for the prosecution. Either way, this case is huge and when it breaks, it will be critical that we take the spark of public outrage and fan it into a five-alarm fire.

(Cross-posted at The (liberal)Girl Next Door.)

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