Preparing for a Bumpy Ride

If Bette Davis were still with us, she'd have a piece of advice for the American public: "Better buckle up. It's going to be a bumpy ride."

Yes, all hell is about to break loose. As I said in an early column, I've been here before and I can tell you, it ain't gonna be pretty. The process that is about to begin is a bit like the whole body politic getting a colonic. I remember how it left the nation weak and disoriented for a decade or more. I am, of course, speaking of Watergate -- different cast of characters, same crimes.

In the Watergate era we still had people in Congress, from both parties, with the integrity and backbone to pursue the matter on their own. But those folks have been replaced by the political equivalent of street gang members who make their judgments based on whether the other guy is wearing red or blue.

So forget Congress. This time the sword is wielded by an independent prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald -- who is, by all reports, a genuine Dudley Dooright:

"Famous among colleagues for remembering minutiae, he keeps extraordinary hours while handling the leak investigation and managing a Chicago office with more than 150 lawyers. Dick Sauber, an attorney for Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper in the leak case, said Fitzgerald "worked the case down to the small details. He was the one who knew the obscure fact in a document and knew where to find it." (More.)
Letting a fellow like that loose on the Bush administration is like turning a bloodhound free in sausage factory -- his nose must have begun twitching the moment he arrived.

So the question is not "if" he found anything, but how much he found. Because when you find a fresh sausage there's almost always another one connected to it -- and another, and another. In this case the first sausage in that string is not the Valerie Plame affair, but war -- specially, how the administration justified invading another nation.

The outing of Joe Wilson's wife as a CIA agent was actually one of the final sausages in that string, a desperate attempt by the administration to hide the criminal acts that preceded it -- the lies they concocted to take our nation to war. And that makes Watergate crimes look like jaywalking by comnparison.

So will the great unraveling begin this week? I suspect so. If Rove and/or Libby are indicted, it will become impossible for the administration to deny access to materials exposing the inner workings of this White House. They will try, of course, claiming "executive privilege." But much of it will still eventually come out. (Remember, when Bill Clinton found himself entangled in the gears of justice, even his DNA could not escape the long arm of the law.)

This administration has relied on its ability to hide inconvenient facts, beginning with their refusal for five years to even identify the members of Dick Cheney's Energy Task Force. But shaping US energy policy to benefit old pals in the oil business is politics as usual. Trumping up evidence to justify war is a crime with both national and international ramifications.

First, understand that Dick Cheney was the maestro of that crime. Libby was his Sammy "The Bull" Gravano, the guy who got his hands dirty doing the boss's work. When tough-guy Sammy faced years in prison he rolled over on boss John Gotti. Sammy looked his old boss right in the eye in court as he dropped dime after dime after dime on him. Sammy got out of prison. Gotti died, alone and ranting, in a federal prison hospital.

That's why when Cheney looks at his old pal Scooter these days, he must shudder. Gone are the "atta boy" backslaps between boss and sidekick. Gone are the "nod, nod, wink, winks," between two soul mates who think so much alike they seldom have to explain. Now when Cheney looks at Scooter he sees a guy who knows where all the bodies are buried -- because he helped bury them. When Scooter looks at Cheney he must see a guy who could spend his golden years luxuriating in his Jackson Hole mansion, while he, Scooter, spends his retirement filing appeals from a cell at Camp Beefcake -- where a nickname like "Scooter" would be a real liability.

So, it must be awkward between the two old friends these days.

If I learned anything about crooks from my years of covering such folk, it's this -- good crooks always take out insurance. In the world of white collar crooks, insurance amounts to incriminating evidence -- secretly tapped conversations with co-conspirators, copies of documents, notes and emails. The message is, "don't sell me up the river, because I have the goods on you too."

Therefore, Cheney must suspect that Scooter Libby has his own insurance stash. After all, as a private attorney, Scooter represented some of the world's biggest crooks, so he knows how the game is played. Remember Marc Rich, the crooked financier Clinton pardoned? Republicans like to drag Marc Rich out any time they want to make the point that Clinton was a bad guy. What they don't mention is who Marc Rich's lawyer was -- I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.
WASHINGTON (CNN) March 2, 2001 -- Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff testified Thursday he believes prosecutors of billionaire financier Marc Rich "misconstrued the facts and the law" when they went after Rich on tax evasion charges -- The testimony from Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who represented Rich dating back to 1985 but stopped working for him in the spring of 2000, came during a contentious, hours-long House committee hearing into former President Bill Clinton's eleventh-hour pardons.
As prosecutor Fitzergald began following the trail of sausage links back from the time Valerie Plame's name was leaked to the press by "high administration officials," he could not have avoided discovering that that disclosure was part of much larger conspiracy. A conspiracy to keep a lid on much more serious crimes than just blowing a CIA agent's cover. The evidence of those crimes is contained in the gaps - the portions of the public record this administration has, so far, successfully kept from prying eyes and inquiring minds.

WMD? Who knew what, and when did they know it? Joe Wilson was one of the few who knew -- and talked -- which is why he had to be destroyed. Destroying enemies was a specialty of Richard Nixon, and Dick Cheney was one of his more attentive students. (Cheney's political career began in 1969 when he joined the Nixon Administration, serving in a number of positions at the Cost of Living Council, at the Office of Economic Opportunity, and within the White House.)

When Cheney became second-in-command of the G.W. Bush's gang, he dusted off his Nixon play book and went about the work of destroying anyone who threatened them. He and Bush Capo Karl Rove didn't even care which party their victims belonged to. If they threatened the gang, they dropped the hammer on them. They didn't even blink when they destroyed two American war heroes when they got in the way, Republican John McCain and Democrat Max Clelland -- a Vietnam war triple amputee.

So by the time Ambassador Joe Wilson began spilling the WMD beans, the Bush/Cheney gang figured they could destroy Jesus Christ himself if He crossed them. Then they got careless, as all crooks eventually do.

So, buckle up folks. It's gonna be a bumpy ride.

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