Monday, May 15, 2006

Cheney unfit for office?

Cheney asks Libby, on a copy of Wilson's op-ed piece, if Wilson was sent "on a junket by his wife," CIA operative Valerie Plame. The notated newspaper clipping was entered into evidence on Friday by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald.

It was Vice President Richard V. Cheney, we learned yesterday, who pushed the National Intelligence Agency (NSA) into its data-mining venture on the phone calls of virtually every American, according to The New York Times. According to the Times's Scott Shane and Eric Lichtblau, only too happy to do the vice president's bidding was Gen. Michael Hayden, the president's nominee for CIA director -- despite the reticence of the NSA's attorneys. From Shane and Lichtblau:

For his part, Mr. Cheney helped justify the program with an expansive theory of presidential power, which he explained to traveling reporters a few days after The Times first reported on the program last December.

Mr. Cheney traced his views to his service as chief of staff to President Gerald R. Ford in the 1970's, when post-Watergate changes, which included the FISA law, "served to erode the authority I think the president needs to be effective, especially in a national security area."
The FISA law of which Cheney spoke is the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which defined the terms by which the NSA could spy on U.S. citizens, and set up a secret court for the issuance of search warrants to the agency.

Photo humor by Frank G. of

If the thought of Dick Cheney deciding single-handedly to override the will of Congress -- not to mention the U.S. Constitution -- in order to violate your Fourth Amendment rights, consider the evidence being gathered that puts him closer to the leak of the name of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson to the media. In the photocopy shown above, Cheney's handwritten notes appear on a clipped copy of the op-ed piece published in The New York Times by Joseph Wilson IV, the former ambassador to Niger and husband of Valerie Plame. Wilson's piece focuses on the journey to Niger he undertook at the behest of the CIA in order to research the administration's claim that Sadaam Hussein had sought to buy yellowcake uranium from that country. As everyone knows, Wilson upset a lot of people at the White House with his contention that it never happened. The newspaper clipping with Cheney's marks was entered into evidence on Friday by the prosecutor in the CIA leak investigation.

Cheney's notes read: "Have they done this sort of thing before? Send an ambassador to answer a question? Do we ordinarily send people out pro bono to work for us? Or did his wife send him on a junket?"

In fact, wherever one finds trouble in this administration, one more often than not finds Cheney. It has gotten so bad, apparently, that, according to Watergate veteran Carl Bernstein, former Secretary of State Colin Powell (who famously took up the cause of the purported Niger/Iraq collusion before the United Nations as part of the administration's case for war) "has, in private, made statements interpreted by many important figures in Washington as seemingly questioning Cheney's emotional stability..."

Bernstein urges the Senate to open hearings right away on the apparently criminal enterprises of the Bush administration, and sees Cheney as something of a kingpin. He compares the leaking of Plame's name to the Watergate burglary -- a small transgression when compared to the larger conspiracy of illegal spying and whatnot, but the one with the potential to expose the whole lot. Could Powell be the John Dean to Cheney's Haldeman?

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