SCANDAL BACKTRACK SERIES: THE PLAME AFFAIR

Truth-seekers awake!  Here we continue with our search to find whether Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s year-long investigation into Donald Trump and the president’s possible collusion with Russia in the 2016 presidential election has gone on too long.  Should it be “wrapped up” as Fox vox demands?  To discover the answer we return to our method of comparing “Treasongate’s” duration to other political scandals that have shaken the nation.  Today we go back to the George W. Bush reign and the Iraq War.

 Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s assistant, took the hit for the Bush Administration’s outing of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame (right), apparently an act of vengeance for her diplomat husband’s failure to find yellow-cake uranium in Africa that would justify the war against Saddam Hussein in Iraq

Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s assistant, took the hit for the Bush Administration’s outing of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame (right), apparently an act of vengeance for her diplomat husband’s failure to find yellow-cake uranium in Africa that would justify the war against Saddam Hussein in Iraq

9.  PLAMEGATE

The Valerie Plame Affair really opened in July 2003 when conservative journalist Robert Novak outed an undercover CIA agent named Valerie Plame.  Why do such a nasty thing?  Because Plame’s husband, diplomat Robert Wilson, had been sent by the George W. Bush administration a year before to Niger, Africa, to confirm that Iraq under Saddam Hussein was trying buy “yellow cake” uranium for its nuclear weapons program; Wilson found nothing of the sort and told the world so in a July 6, 2003 New York Times op-ed piece titled “What I Didn’t Find in Africa.”

Apparently, that was unacceptable, because the Bush administration had already launched the Iraq War, partially justified by President Bush’s own words that “Saddam Hussein recently sought quantities of uranium from Africa.”  (Saddam hadn’t.)  Apparent as well, the administration was going to punish Wilson for his “disloyalty.”  A week later it leaked through Novak in his column titled “Mission to Niger” that Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, was an undercover CIA agent.  That may have been payback.  It was also a crime under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act.

To investigate the matter, Patrick Fitzgerald was named Special Counsel by DOJ Deputy Attorney General James Comey (of all people!) on December 30, 2003, and a lengthy legal/political drama involving a cast of many ensued.  Several of the prominent Neocons who plunged us into a major war that destabilized the Middle East—including the grandest chickenhawk of them all, Vice President Dick Cheney—emerged from the legal proceedings unscathed.  They had their fall guy, though, in Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Cheney’s Chief of Staff, who on March 6, 2007 was found guilty of obstruction of justice and four counts of lying under oath, fined $250,000, sentenced to two and a half years in prison and two years of probation.  President Bush commuted Libby’s prison time, but did not pardon him and left the fine in force.

That same year the Wilsons also sought redress separately in a civil suit against Libby, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove in Wilson vs. Cheney.  The judgment went against the plaintiffs because “the disclosure of Mrs. Wilson’s status as a covert operative was incidental to the kind of conduct that defendants were employed to perform.”  Huh?

The Wilsons’ appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia was denied in a 2-1 decision; a further appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was stymied by the Justice Department on May 20, 2009, which upheld the Appeals Court Decision and said “further review is unwarranted.”

Life brightened after that for the Wilsons.  Books and a movie, Fair Game, based on their experiences transformed Valerie Plame from a spy to a writer of spy novels, a career move far more lucrative and far less dangerous.

Time now to do the addition.  Let’s see, Plamegate started in July 2003 and ended in May 2009.  Why that’s five years and eleven months!  Compare that to Mueller’s progress on Treasongate!  If it helps, write that down.

Curiously, the duration of Plamegate might be double that if you take into account President Donald Trump’s official pardoning of “Scooter” Libby of his crime just this April.  Wow!  Most presidents wait until the end of their terms to give out pardons.  Such a compassionate man!  

A POET BORN THIS DAY (in 1564)...

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

800px-Sanders_portrait2.jpg

How appropriate of me to begin an irregular, now-and-again series of reprinted poems from the English language with a sonnet from the Bard himself.  I believe we all deserve brief, uplifting breaks from the tawdry madness of Trump’s reign to breathe fresh air and reassure ourselves that beauty still exists in these iron times...and to remind ourselves of the nobler qualities we as a species still harbor.

So I begin the venture with a selection from the greatest poet of our tongue, Number 30 from Shakespeare’s matchless collection of sonnets, a favorite of mine that addresses the human verities of love and death, regret and friendship.

Sonnet  30

When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time’s waste.
Then can I drown an eye unused to flow,
For precious friends hid in death’s dateless night,
And weep afresh love’s long since cancelled woe,
And moan th' expense of many a vanished sight.
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o'er
The sad account of fore-bemoanèd moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
  But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
  All losses are restored, and sorrows end.

 

*The art above is the most recently discovered of Shakespeare’s few likenesses, and is the subject of some controversy over its authenticity.  I selected it for its relative rarity in use, because it was painted while he was alive (1603), and because it most resembles how I imagine how that great literary genius would look.