The Week of the Long Knives

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I live about a trillion miles from Washington, D.C., but it sure seems like someone blew the Beltway Dog Whistle, instructing all the little yappers that it's now safe to say "Oh, I never really liked that Bush fellow anyway."

With Patrick Fitzgerald preparing his (we presume) indictments, it's now the Week of the Long Knives, where Poppy Bush's best pal Brent Scowcroft tries to outdo Lawrence Wilkerson in the blade-plunging department while Bush lashes out at Cheney, the White House prepares for turnover, the 2,000th U.S. soldier prepares to die in Iraq and Richard Holbrooke snickers ruefully in the Washington Post.

Now we can expect a festival of Clinton-impeachment switcheroos, with Dems learning to love perjury traps while Republicans ditch the "rule of law"; and everyone trades places on the wisdom of having a sitting president testify in a civil suit. Coming up: Besieged complaints about the vast left-wing conspiracy, and true-believer laments that the president's detractors "refuse to accept the results of the election." Good times.

Over at the New York Times it's a fearful foursome on top of Judy Miller, with Editor Bill Keller, Ombudsman Byron Calame and even reluctant, steak-buying Pinch Sulzberger trying (and failing) to outscratch Maureen Dowd, as Little Miss Run Amok pens desperate little notes of dismayal.

But the real sign that the winds have changed came with my morning coffee, as I read Niall Ferguson—he of the "America! Embrace your inner empire!" argument—wash his hands with this sentence. "By definition [Bush] is replaceable, in 2008 if not before."

If not before! At least Ferguson, unlike the vast majority of the conservative pilers-on, found it within his vast intellect and moral conviction to arrive at Bush skepticism before another kind of Beltway Dog Whistle blew way back in those distant days of November 2004.

NEXT: Smoke a Joint, Lose Your Child?

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  1. Scowcroft was saying this stuff in 2002.

    I’m still agin’ making sitting presidents testify in civil suits. Wait until he leaves office fer crissakes.

  2. If only the S.A. had been purged before the 2004 election…

  3. joe,

    I’m still agin’ making sitting presidents testify in civil suits.

    Why? Justice delayed is justice denied.

  4. I live about a trillion miles from Washington, D.C.

    These days, that is considered a reasonable commute for those who work in D.C.

    As far as Bush II goes, it’s all just typical second-term rot, as far I’m concerned. Sometime about a year from now, the media will change its focus to the 2008 race, and much of this Beltway fingerpoke-to-the-eye shit will be forgotten. At that point Bush can start issuing large numbers of dubious pardons, attend daily fundraisers, spend more time in Crawford, and appoint Miss Beazley to the Supreme Court.

  5. Getting paid by the link these days, Matt?

  6. No kidding, Kevin.

    A foursome on top of Miller? Now that’s an image I did not need to start my week.

  7. It’s encouraging, but I won’t be satisfied until W and Rummy are convicted of war crimes.

  8. Matt,
    You no longer need to wait about complaints of a left-wing conspiracy. Byron York jumped the gun and already wrote a book on the subject.

  9. I am all for impeachment of GWB, mostly on the grounds that he sucks really bad at his job. But I would not consider it right for Congress-members to try and impeach him if that was clearly not what the American people wanted.
    Clearly, though it would be best if Bush did not drag the country through all of this (another 3 years with an embarassing President) and just stepped down.

  10. Patrick fits Gerald

    no

    Gerald fits Patrick

    Got to love those gay irish guys…

  11. I am all for impeachment of GWB, mostly on the grounds that he sucks really bad at his job.

    Sadly, this is one of the things that is clearly *not* an impeachable offense under the US Constitution (or was that yr point?).

  12. Dave W.,

    Heh. Anything is an impeachable offense if you got the votes in the House to send his arse to a Senate trial. That’s one of the core areas of the Congress’ powers after all, and thus the federal courts are very, very unlikely to intervene in such an affair because of that fact.

    More seriously, it wouldn’t be very difficult to find Bush’s version of a violation of the Tenure in Office Act if the political situation were such that people wanted him out because he simply sucks, etc.

  13. More seriously, it wouldn’t be very difficult to find Bush’s version of a violation of the Tenure in Office Act if the political situation were such that people wanted him out because he simply sucks, etc.

    I didn’t know about this, if this laws says what you imply it says then it sounds like a violation of the “high crimes & misdemeanors” provision that we got all knotted up in in ’99.

  14. I think Hakluyt is referring to the grounds for President Andrew Johnson’s impeachment.

    Yes, Hak, I have read a history book… 😉

  15. crimethink,

    Good on you. 🙂

  16. crimethink,

    Johnson tossed a cabinet member in violation of that Act (the sort of law in question was found later to be unconstitutional in question – in the late 1920s) which gave the House the pretext to impeach Johnson. Of course Johnson wouldn’t have been impeached if the general political environment of D.C. wasn’t so sour and so many Congress critters thought he was shit.

  17. crimethink,

    Then again, Dave W. is a Canadian, so its not surprising that he knows shit about U.S. history.

  18. crimethink-

    I tried sending you an email last week. I don’t know if you got it or not. The email address shown on this post is real if you take out the part about spam.

  19. thoreau,

    Heh. I sent you an e-mail last week too and got no response. Don’t you love me anymore? :->

  20. Got to love those gay irish guys…

    I resent that.

  21. It so nice to see the part of Law and Order go all soft on crime on us.

    On the other hand, Eric the .5th pointed out before that Lawrence Wilkonson, Powell’s chief of staff said in his much ballyhooed speech:

    Well, Saddam Hussein really cared about deterring the Persians ? the Iranians ? and his own people.? He didn?t give a hang about us except on occasion.? And so he had to convince those audiences that he still was a powerful man.? So who better to do that through than the INC, Ahmad Chalabi and his boys, and by spoofing our eyes in the sky and our little HUMINT, and the Brits and the French and the Germans, too.? That?s all I can figure.?
    ?
    The consensus of the intelligence community was overwhelming.? I can still hear George Tenet telling me, and telling my boss in the bowels of the CIA, that the information we were delivering ? which we had called considerably ? we had called it very much ? we had thrown whole reams of paper out that the White House had created.? But George was convinced, John McLaughlin was convinced that what we were presented was accurate.? And contrary to what you were hearing in the papers and other places, one of the best relationships we had in fighting terrorists and in intelligence in general was with guess who?? The French.? In fact, it was probably the best.? And they were right there with us.?
    ?
    In fact, I?ll just cite one more thing.? The French came in in the middle of my deliberations at the CIA and said, we have just spun aluminum tubes, and by god, we did it to this RPM, et cetera, et cetera, and it was all, you know, proof positive that the aluminum tubes were not for mortar casings or artillery casings, they were for centrifuges.? Otherwise, why would you have such exquisite instruments?? We were wrong.? We were wrong.?

    So Miller was reporting the consensus? The horror!

    As a side note, it’s kind of surprising to see the chief-of-staff of the Sec. of State of a Republican administration make this accurate assessment:

    There are a number of reasons why I believe that this is strategic in a sense that Vietnam was not.? Vietnam was a misinterpretation, in my view, of a Cold War side battle that really wasn?t a Cold War side battle except in a superficial aspect.? It really was a civil war.? And the French misinterpreted, because of their colonial remnants, and we misinterpreted it because of our fixation on the Cold War, although I have some very provocative opinions about what we could have done in Vietnam if we?d stuck it out too.? Nonetheless, Vietnam was not something that when we left, however with honor or without, we were going to have to revisit 10 years later because it was so strategic.? I think Iraq is.

  22. thoreau,

    I’ll look for it…

  23. fwiw, raimondo — who seems well sourced in all this, to judge by his prescience on a number of things — claims to solve the motive mystery that kept me wondering about why the vice president would risk so much to nail joe wilson’s wife. revenge in hubris can be a powerful force for delusion, but still?

    now it seems that perhaps plame’s cia undercover outfit was about to discover that members of cheney’s neocon cabal — specifically, michael ledeen — had forged the niger yellowcake documents themsleves.

    if you’re keeping track, that means the veep’s klansmen not only stovepiped all manner of unvetted, cherrypicked “intelligence” to the president to build a ridiculous case to invade iraq — they also simply outright defrauded the president (?) and the people (!) when even that faux evidence wasn’t belligerent enough for their bloody minds — and continued to break any and all laws to try to hide their treasonous behavior in engineering a war for little more than their own personal gratification.

    treason — not the talk-radio ann-coulter variety, but real, honest to god, benedict arnold treason. god help them now.

  24. gaius,

    To which enemies of the United States did Cheney et al give aid and comfort?

    Not to defend what they did (if they did indeed do what you accuse them of), but let’s not throw around the T-word lightly…

  25. we were going to have to revisit 10 years later because it was so strategic

    this falsely presumes, mr k, that we make anything better by doing so. truly, i consider that our strategic interests would be best served by tying our hands behind our back.

    we’ve proved a horrific imperial manager in our mideastern proxies, i fear.

  26. To which enemies of the United States did Cheney et al give aid and comfort?

    iran, it would seem to me. whether cheney intended to or not, what he precipitated in iraq is a priceless boon to iran — unless, of course, it’s all merely a stepping stone to another war of conquest with the iranians.

    and would that truly exornerate him?

    you might also cross-reference to the aipac prosecution to get another answer, depending on which foreign powers you consider to be an enemy of the state.

  27. So if the US govt. has repeatedly proven itself to be an enemy of liberty. And Iran is the enemy of the US govt. Does that mean that by the “Enemies enemy transmutation principal” that Iran is a friend of liberty?

  28. Whew, gaius, that is truly off the deep end.

    You think Dick Cheney is a deep cover agent for the Iranian ayatollahs?

    Or do you (mistakenly) believe that treason and “aid and comfort” can be based upon unintended and incidental side effects of a given policy? Treason is a crime with a very specific mens rea.

  29. You think Dick Cheney is a deep cover agent for the Iranian ayatollahs?

    no, i think he aided and abetted without intending to. his office, caught in its own hubris, was used embarassingly by chalabi and the iranians. does that exonerate him?

    Treason is a crime with a very specific mens rea.

    i’ll actually cite free republic to refute you, as laughable as that is, mr dean.

    The idea that an individual can be convicted of the crime of treason only if there is treasonous intent or *mens rea* runs contrary to the concept of strict liability crimes. That doctrine (Park v United States, (1974) 421 US 658,668) established the principle of ‘strict liability’ or ‘liability without fault’ in certain criminal cases, usually involving crimes which endanger the public welfare.

    even beyond that — treason is a crime against a false god that needs only great public passion to yield conviction. it’s a religious charge, like heresy, whatever pixiedust fantasies anyone might like to believe about the cold rationality of people under law (especially now). actual intent can’t ever truly be delineated and barely matters in such cases. if cheney could be painted with plausible intent, he’d be nailed to the cross to avenge his sins against the holy state.

  30. Goddamn Gayus, what are you smoking?

  31. Those assholes in DC need a good snowstorm to remind them it isn’t August anymore.

  32. US v Park deals with the strict (statutory) liability of a corporation’s managers for the conduct of a corporation which was in breach of its statutory requirements under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

    unsurprisingly, no one other than freepers have found the case to have any application to the law of treason, since treason is not, by statute (or otherwise) a strict liability offence, unlike FFDCA violations.

    Haupt v US 330 US 631 (1947) makes clear that to successfully prosecute treason, proof must be adduced of the accused (1) having committed acts which aided/comforted an enemy, and (2) having committed the acts in (1) for the purpose of aiding/comforting the enemy.

    while i wouldn’t agree that treason has a “very specific mens rea”, it is true nonetheless that the crime is not committed unless the act was done with the knowledge or understanding of it being treasonable.

  33. unsurprisingly, no one other than freepers have found the case to have any application to the law of treason

    agreed, mr snuh. i’m sure that cheney won’t be charged with treason vis a vis iran.

    Goddamn Gayus, what are you smoking?

    however, mr kwais, it isn’t as if cheney isn’t an amoral criminal of the highest order who deserves prison or worse for what he and his offices are perpetrating upon the american people. i’m saying that, while no one will be charged with treason, the nature of his high crimes could be made to fit the bill.

    the ny times reports this morning that it was cheney told libby of plame’s identity. one can only hope that fitzgerald has evidence enough to crucify the lawless son of a bitch.

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