October 25, 2005
spin and character attacks were a viable justification for a massive
breach of national security, Republicans have already decided to smear
Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald rather than take responsibility
for their own misdeeds. Prevailing wisdom expects grand jury
indictments to be issued this week. Any criminal charges will likely
reach deep into the White House.
the weekend, the GOP spin machine gave us a preview of what we can
expect from the Republican Party when we finally learn who outed CIA
operative Valerie Plame Wilson.
The New York Times reports
that "allies of the White House suggested Sunday that they intended to
pursue a strategy of attacking any criminal charges as a disagreement
over legal technicalities or the product of an overzealous prosecutor"
and that, in what appears to be a coordinated Congressional and White
House attack, "allies of the White House have quietly been circulating
talking points in recent days among Republicans sympathetic to the
administration, seeking to help them make the case that bringing
charges like perjury mean the prosecutor does not have a strong case."
Congress and the American people can consider the possibility of a
White House cover up, it will have to penetrate the smokescreen of
character assassination and RNC talking points. This sort of
misdirection is nothing new to this White House. The weapons they will
use will be the same used to defame Ambassador Joe Wilson; in the words
of a Republican Congressional aide months ago, "it’s slime and defend."
Bailey Hutchinson was tapped to test drive the strategy on this
weekend’s edition of "Meet the Press." As if insider trading were at
all comparable to alleged treason, Senator Hutchinson attempted to draw
parallels between the Fitzgerald investigation and the Martha Stewart
trial: mere perjury under oath shouldn’t really bring criminal
sanctions, she argued, "where they couldn't find a crime and they
indict on something that she said about something that wasn't a crime."
Senator Hutchinson further expressed her hope that the grand jury would
not "go to something just to show that their two years of investigation
was not a waste of time and taxpayer dollars."
Much like the war
in Iraq and the clumsy smear of Joe Wilson, the campaign against
Patrick Fitzgerald appears doomed from the outset. First and foremost,
if the grand jury does choose to bring indictments, neither Senator
Hutchinson and her band of White House apologists nor the general
public yet know what the scope of those indictments will be. It is
quite possible that Patrick Fitzgerald could indict under the Espionage
Act, which makes it a crime to disclose classified information to
someone not authorized to received it. The smear artists are already
arguing about technicalities-as if perjury under oath were somehow not
criminal behavior. Is espionage enough of a crime for Senator
Hutchinson? Is conspiracy? Is outright treason?
If senior White
House advisors are, in fact, charged with perjuring themselves, why
isn’t that enough for Republicans? It was enough for Senator Hutchinson
to vote to remove President Clinton from office, when she said
"Lying is a moral wrong. Perjury is a lie told under oath that is
legally wrong....[t]o say otherwise would be to severely lower the
moral and legal standards of accountability that are imposed on
ordinary citizens every day. The same standard should be imposed on our
leaders....I will not compromise this simple but high moral
principle..." The American people are simply smarter than Senator
Hutchinson gives them credit-we remember the high moral principles
brought to bare against the Clinton Administration. We will not be
fooled by terms like "perjury technicality."
President Bush, whose Administration is being so disingenuously
defended? When the story first broke, the President told the nation:
"If there's a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is.
And if the person has violated the law, the person will be taken care
of." The President did not make a distinction between some crimes and
And how do those
who claim Patrick Fitzgerald is an overzealous prosecutor reconcile
that view with the statements made by the President they so ruthlessly
seek to protect? Not one week ago, President Bush again addressed the
country: "The special prosecutor is conducting a very serious
investigation. He's doing it in a very dignified way, by the way, and
we'll see what he says."
public should be outraged-not surprised, but truly indignant-if the
grand jury has uncovered evidence that the advisors closest to the
President placed politics and petty revenge over national security.
Time will tell. The only certainty, it seems, is that Republican
leaders are less willing to confront the facts on the ground then they
are to smear the character of a decent and dedicated public servant.
Representative John Conyers, Jr.
was re-elected in November 2002 to his nineteenth term in the U.S.
House of Representatives. He is the second most senior member of the
House and was re-elected by his Congressional Colleagues to remain the
first African-American Democratic Leader of the pivotal House Committee on the Judiciary. Congressman Conyers is also a founding member and Dean of the Congressional Black Caucus. Most recently, he led efforts to investigate irregularities in the Ohio presidential election.
© 2005 The Huffington Post