Watergate II : insider view : Most Important Criminal Case in American History


Richard Moore

    Fortunately, there are good signs. Fitzgerald has reportedly
    asked for a copy of the Italian government's investigation
    into the break-in of the Niger embassy in Rome and the source
    of the forged documents...

This would mean the investigation has gone well beyond the Plame
leak itself...to the broader White House conspiracy around Iraq
    Prove to us we still live in a democracy and a nation of laws

This is how it would seem, but "It ain't necessarily so".



The Most Important Criminal Case in American History
James Moore 

If special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald delivers indictments of
a few functionaries of the vice president's office or the
White House, we are likely to have on our hands a
constitutional crisis. The evidence of widespread wrongdoing
and conspiracy is before every American with a cheap laptop
and a cable television subscription. And we do not have the
same powers of subpoena granted to Fitzgerald.

We know, however, based upon what we have read and seen and
heard that someone created fake documents related to Niger and
Iraq and used them as a false pretense to launch America into
an invasion of Iraq. And when a former diplomat made an honest
effort to find out the facts, a plan was hatched to both
discredit and punish him by revealing the identity of his
undercover CIA agent wife.

Patrick Fitzgerald has before him the most important criminal
case in American history. Watergate, by comparison, was a
random burglary in an age of innocence. The investigator's
prosecutorial authority in this present case is not
constrained by any regulation. If he finds a thread connecting
the leak to something greater, Fitzgerald has the legal power
to follow it to the web in search of the spider. It seems
unlikely, then, that he would simply go after the leakers and
the people who sought to cover up the leak when it was merely
a secondary consequence of the much greater crime of forging
evidence to foment war. Fitzgerald did not earn his reputation
as an Irish alligator by going after the little guy.

Presumably, he is trying to find evidence that Karl Rove
launched a covert operation to create the forged documents and
then conspired to out Valerie Plame when he learned the fraud
was being uncovered by Plame's husband, Ambassador Joseph
Wilson. As much as this sounds like the plot of a John le
Carre novel, it also comports with the profile of the Karl
Rove I have known, watched, traveled with and written about
for the past 25 years.

We may stand witness to a definitive American moment of
democracy. The son of a New York doorman probably has in his
hands, in many ways, the fate of the republic. Because far too
many of us know and are aware of the crimes committed by our
government in our name, we are unlikely to settle for a
handful of minor indictments of bureaucrats. The last thing
most of us believe in is the rule of law. We do not trust our
government or the people we have elected but our constitution
is still very much alive and we choose to believe that destiny
has placed Patrick Fitzgerald at this time and this place in
our history to save us from the people we elected. If the law
cannot get to the truth of what has happened to the American
people under the Bush administration, then we all may begin to
hear the early death rattles of history's greatest democracy.

Fortunately, there are good signs. Fitzgerald has reportedly
asked for a copy of the Italian government's investigation
into the break-in of the Niger embassy in Rome and the source
of the forged documents. The blatantly fake papers, which
purported to show that Saddam Hussein had cut a deal to get
yellowcake uranium from Niger, turned up after a December 2001
meeting in Rome involving neo-con Michael Ledeen, Larry
Franklin, Harold Rhodes, and Niccolo Pollari, the head of
Italy's intelligence agency SISMI, and Antonio Martino, the
Italian defense minister.

If Fitzgerald is examining the possibility that Ledeen was
executing a plan to help his friend Karl Rove build a case for
invading Iraq? Ledeen has long ties to Italian intelligence
agency operatives and has spanned the globe to bring the world
the constant variety of what he calls "creative destruction"
to build democracies. He makes the other neo-cons appear
passive. He brought the Reagan administration together with
the Iranian arms dealer who dragged the country through
Iran-Contra and shares with his close friend Karl Rove a
personal obsession with Machiavelli. Ledeen, who is almost
rabidly anti-Arab, famously told the Washington Post that Karl
Rove told him, "Any time you have a good idea, tell me."

The federal grand jury has to at least consider whether Ledeen
called Rove with an idea to use his contacts with the Italian
CIA to hatch a plan to create the rationale for war. Ledeen
told radio interviewer Ian Masters and his producer Louis
Vandenberg, "I have absolutely no connection to the Niger
documents, have never even seen them. I did not work on them,
never handled them, know virtually nothing about them, don't
think I ever wrote or said anything about the subject." It is
strictly coincidence then that some months after he and his
neo-con consorts and Italian intelligence officers met in Rome
that the Niger embassy was illegally entered and nothing was
stolen other than letterhead and seals. And equally coincident
that forged papers under those letterheads were slipped to
Elisabetta Burba, a writer for an Italian glossy owned by
Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's prime minister, and a backer of the
Bush invasion scheme. Unfortunately for the pro-war neo-cons,
even an Italian tabloid would not publish the fake documents
and turned them over to the CIA and US government in Rome.

The other American attendees at Ledeen's Roman Holiday are
also worthy of scrutiny. Larry Franklin was recently arrested
for leaking classified US government information to the
American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Ledeen sprang
quickly to his defense but Franklin faces prosecution next
year and is most probably cooperating with prosecutor
Fitzgerald. Harold Rhode, the other American actor in this
tragicomic affair, worked the Office of Special Plans (OSP) at
the Department of Defense for Vice President Dick Cheney and
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Characterized as a
"counter-intelligence shop," OSP simply interpreted
intelligence in a manner that fit the need for evidence that
Iraq had WMD. If the CIA gathered data that said otherwise,
OSP analyzed it differently or ignored the facts and then
reported to the vice president precisely what he wanted to
hear. Rhode also was the liaison between Ahmed Chalabi, the
convicted embezzler the Bush administration was using to feed
information to them and Judy Miller about the distortions and
lies required to fuel the rush to war.

No great extrapolation is necessary to assume that OSP,
sitting inside the CIA, got early word that Joseph Wilson was
being dispatched to Niger to investigate the sale of low-grade
uranium to Iraq. Rhode needed only to pick up the phone and
call the vice president's chief of staff Scooter Libby, who
would tell his boss and Karl Rove. How hard is it for even
Republicans to believe, at this point, that Rove is capable of
launching a plan to discredit Wilson and punish him by
exposing his wife? Rove and his boss were not simply in danger
of losing the prime cause for the war; they faced an even
graver political wound of being discovered as covert agents
who defrauded the government and the public.

I have seen the spawn of Rove's tortured mind and watched a
hundred of his political scams unfold and I am confident I
know how this one played out. Rove might have brought it up
with his fellow big brains in the White House Iraq Group, a
propaganda organization set up to disseminate information
supporting the war. There was likely a consensus to move the
plan to smack down Wilson out of the White House. Rove always
keeps a layer of operatives between himself and the person he
gets to pull the trigger. Libby was probably told to manage it
out of the VP's office to protect the president because Karl
always takes care of his most prized assets. Libby then likely
ordered John Hannah and possibly David Wurmser to call the
ever-friendly Judy Miller at the New York Times and columnist
Robert Novak to give them Valerie Plame's identity. Rove knew
that Miller would call Libby of Aspen for confirmation and his
old friend Novak was certain to call Rove who, as an
unidentified senior White House official, would confirm the
identity on background only. Because Novak is a partisan
gunslinger, he wrote more quickly than Miller and when she saw
the firestorm his story created, she backed off and has since
been trying to cover for herself and Libby. Miller's later
claim that she cannot remember who gave her the "Valerie
Flame" name is as much dissembling as Rove's unconvincing
argument that he "forgot" he met with Time reporter Matt
Cooper. Karl Rove can remember precinct results from 19th
century presidential elections. He neither forgets nor

There you have it, Mr. Prosecutor. To quote an unreconstructed
former Republican presidential candidate, "You know it. I know
it. And the American people know it." We expect you also to
have sufficient evidence to prove all of this. There are many
of us who are on the verge of losing faith in our democracy.
We are convinced that there are people within the highest
ramparts of American government who are willing to put our
country at great risk to advance their geo-political vision.
We want our country back. And all we have left is the power of
the law. From what we know, you are the right man come forth
at the right time.

Prove to us we still live in a democracy and a nation of laws


"Apocalypse Now and the Brave New World"

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