Saturday, April 08, 2006

Dowd: Royal Bushes

Divine Right of Bushes
by Maureen Dowd

So the aide turns out to have been loyally following his leader's dictates, rather than going around the boss's back to peddle secret information.

Scooter is a "good Judas," as it turns out, just as Judas himself was, according to a 1,700-year-old Christian manuscript found in the Egyptian desert that asserts that Jesus wanted Judas to betray him, so he entrusted his disciple with special intelligence.

"You can see how early Christians could say, if Jesus' death was all part of God's plan, then Judas's betrayal was part of God's plan," Dr. Karen King, a professor of the history of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School, told The Times.

Since President Bush seems to see his mission in Iraq as part of God's plan, he must have assumed that getting Scooter Libby to leak parts of a classified document on Iraq to rebut Joe Wilson's charge about a juiced-up casus belli was part of God's plan.

When other officials leak top-secret stuff — even in cases where the whistle-blowers feel they are illuminating unlawful acts — they are portrayed by the White House as traitors who should be investigated and fired.

After The Times broke the story about the president allowing unauthorized snooping in America, W. was outraged. The F.B.I. and Justice Department were sicced on the leakers. "Revealing classified information," W. huffed, "is illegal, alerts our enemies and endangers our country."

Really, W. should fire himself. He swore to look high and low for the scurrilous leaker and, lo and behold, he has himself in custody. Since the Bush administration is basically a monarchy, he should pass the crown to Jenna. She couldn't do worse than this bunch of airheads and bullies.

Patrick Fitzgerald filed court papers indicating that Scooter testified that in 2003, when the White House was getting rattled by the failure to find W.M.D. and by criticism from a former diplomat on the margins of the war scheme, the president authorized Dick Cheney to authorize Scooter to make a one-sided dump of classified information about Saddam's arsenal to The Times's Judy Miller.

Scooter was so concerned about the propriety of the deal that he checked with the vice president's lawyer, David Addington, before he spilled. Addington, whose politics are to the right of Louis XVI, said, go right ahead. Now Black Adder has Scooter's job. Coincidence?

The Bushies once more showed incompetence by creating this elaborate daisy-chain leak and giving it to the one person in journalism who had been roped off from writing about the prewar intelligence while her editors sorted out problems with her past W.M.D. coverage. Judy never authored an article about what Scooter gave her, either that intelligence or the identity of the woman whom she wrote down in her notebook as "Valerie Flame." (Stripper or spy?)

W. subscribes to the Nixonian theory that when a president does it, it's not illegal — or maybe it's the divine right of kings. God has been pretty active in Republican politics lately: Tom DeLay said God told him to drop out of his re-election race. If the administration were seriously trying to declassify something in the national interest, wouldn't it have President Bush explain his decision or have his Scottish terrier yip it out from the podium, rather than having Scooter whisper it in Judy's ear?

Instead, sounding very Lewis Carroll, the White House claims that when the president leaks something secret, it's not secret anymore. It's the Immaculate Declassification: intelligence is declassified by passing it on to a friendly reporter.

"The president believes the leaking of classified information is a very serious matter," Scott McClellan said. "And I think that's why it's important to draw a distinction here. Declassifying information and providing it to the public, when it is in the public interest, is one thing. But leaking classified information that could compromise our national security is something that is very serious. And there is a distinction." And thank goodness we have a White House that gets that distinction. Democrats who don't, he sniffed, are guilty of "crass politics."

If W. wants the information out, it's good for the country to make it public. If W. doesn't want the information out, it's bad for the country to make it public. L'├ętat, c'est moi.

That's how we got mired in the Iraq war in the first place. The administration ruthlessly held back classified information that contradicted its bogus case for war, and leaked classified information that supported it.

The Bushies keep trying to manipulate reality, but reality bites back. That's not only crass politics. It's lethal politics. L'├ętat, c'est mess.