A Case of Presidential Fraud?

At the heart of the case that brought us into this war were a series of deliberate lies and forgeries.

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I. Lewis (“Scooter”) Libby, immediately praised by the President (“Scooter has worked tirelessly on behalf of the American people and sacrificed much in the service to this country.”), his resignation accepted with “deep regret” by the Vice President (“He has given many years of his life to public service and has served our nation tirelessly and with great distinction.”), is gone. David Addington, Cheney’s counsel and an extreme believer in unfettered presidential power, is evidently at the top of the list to succeed him as vice-presidential chief of staff. Addington, who was involved in Cheney’s Plame discussions, has a Cheneyesque pedigree. As the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank described him in October 2004, “Where there has been controversy over the past four years, there has often been Addington. He was a principal author of the White House memo justifying torture of terrorism suspects. He was a prime advocate of arguments supporting the holding of terrorism suspects without access to courts. Addington also led the fight with Congress and environmentalists over access to information about corporations that advised the White House on energy policy? Colleagues say Addington stands out for his devotion to secrecy in an administration noted for its confidentiality.” (For the larger administration picture, as it relates to the Plame case, check out the latest graphic at Tompaine.com, Dick and Don’s Cabal.)

Meanwhile, Special Counsel Fitzgerald’s case remains “open,” as he indicated rather quietly in his news conference yesterday. On the significance of this, oddly enough, James Moore, author of Bush’s Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential, and Ann Coulter seem to agree. As Moore puts it:

“Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald must surely just be at the beginning of rendering justice. An indictment or two will hardly serve to answer the critical questions. The leak and any lies to the grand jury were most likely motivated by a deep and abiding fear that a much greater crime was at risk of being uncovered. Karl Rove is vindictive, yes. But he is not stupid. Rove would never risk treason unless he thought it served a political purpose. And this was the most important political purpose of all: protecting his most precious asset, George W. Bush.”

And here’s Coulter:

“O’BRIEN: So there you have it, Karl Rove apparently escaping indictment, but that’s the good news. The bad news is, on goes the investigation. What are your thoughts on that one?

COULTER: That is like the worse possible outcome? Let’s just get it done one way or the other this Friday. Either they get indicted and they leave, or they’re not indicted and it’s over. To stay under investigation — that is not the best possible outcome.”

So we all continue with “the worse possible outcome.” What remains with us — and the administration — as well is the ongoing, devolving catastrophe in Iraq where, in just the last three days, 8 more American soldiers have died during a month, not yet at an end, in which 79 American servicemen and countless Iraqis were killed. At the heart of the case that brought us into this war were a series of deliberate lies and forgeries. And I’m not just referring to Scooter Libby’s series of ridiculous, ad-lib whoppers to the grand jury. (Was he throwing himself on his sword to protect his boss or was this just the typical we-can-get-away-with-it hubris of the Bush White House?)

Former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega in the cover story of this week’s Nation magazine, a piece being shared with and released online by Tomdispatch, turns to the question of how to make the Bush administration accountable for having defrauded the American people into a war. Her striking exploration offers a potential new legal avenue that could force Bush & Co. to take responsibility for their actions. It’s an ingenious approach, the equivalent of getting Al Capone for evading his taxes and it should be followed up.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

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It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

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Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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