The Right Coast

November 03, 2005
CIA incompetence or covert op?
By Tom Smith

This is an important column. (subscription may be required) Either the Wilson mission was an extraordinary example of CIA bumbling, or it is part of a brilliantly clever ploy to ensnare the White House. We may never find out. I was wondering about this very thing, when I read this in this morning's Journal. (I am back to subscribing to the print version and my life feels full again.)

Also very good and quite true lead editorial. On the utter hypocrisy of the "Bush lied us into war" Democrats. But you probably knew that already.

But, because we here at the RC are not mere Republican lackeys, here is the nice thought of the day for Democrats. This is my working hypothesis of what is going on re poor Scooter, Steely Dick Cheney, and she who must not be named. (Granted, this is all based on MSM reports listened to over screaming kids while dodging meth addled, pick-up driving angry white males on Highway 94, and reading blogs when deans and spouses agree I should be doing something else.) There is apparently abundant evidence, or so says the indictment, that Scooter found out that Plame was with the Firm via his boss, Dick Cheney, and told reporters she was, rather than what Scooter testified, namely that he heard it from reporters. (I don't know if this is true, not having read the indictment, but so I infer from news reports.) My hypothesis is that Cheney essentially told Scooter that Plame was CIA and to take this news to the press to discredit Wilson (in retrospect, a rash and unnecessary move). However, Cheney (a notoriously cold-blooded operator and not the sort of person you'd go scuba diving with if there was any question of air supply and he had a knife), I speculate, either Cheney told Scooter, you did not hear this from me, or that was understood between them. Scooter then obediently told the press, but kept to the story that he had not heard it from his boss, but rather from reporters, even when under oath before the grand jury. This led to the events known in many places, not just Washington, as being hung out to dry by the boss. It happens.

So what should Scooter do, besides get a new nickname? What it appears he is doing. Get a new lawyer, and make it clear he will go to trial and testify (and here I continue my speculative theory) that unlike what he said before the grand jury, the real story is, his boss told him to out secret agent Plame, or rather, expose the CIA-Plame-Wilson connection to discredit Wilson. "That's right, Mr. Prosecutor, I was lying then, and I'm telling the truth now."

This would be bad, berry bad for the White House, not to mention for old heartless Dick. It is a credible threat. Scooter can probably be pretty convincing that he does not intend to take the fall alone -- though it would mean never getting invited to Crawford to remenisce about the old days, that would probably be better than five years at the Club Fed, though the food would likely be about the same.

So Scooter has his chip; what can he do with it? What does he want? You know the answer! Article II, presidential powers . . . Yes, very good. A presidential pardon. For Scooter, Dick, and anybody else the CIA either cleverly or through sheer dumb luck managed to pick up on the gooey surface of this operation and/or picked up fumble, whichever it really was, that that notoriously scary yet so often dim witted and clueless spy agency has put together for our appalled fascination.

It raises rather interesting questions that can probably only be answered by reference to the original meaning of the text of the Constitution. What should a President do if he is being blackmailed into pardoning a formerly loyal servant who has been set up to take the fall for another fairly loyal, if bloodless, servant, who was only trying to derail a CIA clever-plot-or-just-really-stupid-stunt, because that agency opposed the President's attempts to defend the country from a bunch of insane but still deeply dangerous Islamo-nazi nutcases who would like to set off an atom bomb or release a weaponized virus in Times Square, for reasons very much, respectively, their own? I mean, should he? (Now you know how my students feel.) Having thought about it for nearly a half hour, my considered opinion is, yes. My reasoning, in brief, is, F*&% the CIA. When you have a big, scary, uncontrollable spy agency, that has its own armies, its own resources, and its own foreign policy, which is only tangentially related to the security of the United States, and they have set out to undermine the national security policy of the President, either cleverly or just stupidly and brazenly, he is justified in using all the constitutional powers at his disposal to protect his policy and his office. Not to mention us. That includes pardoning officials who do things like lie their heads off to grand juries for the sake of national security. That is at least as good a reason as because he gave you money, or because you wanted to sleep or had slept with his wife, or whatever the heck the reason was Clinton pardoned Marc Rich. (Notwithstanding the silence of the Constitution on this point, there is no presidential power, however, to steal the furniture, rugs and knicknacks out of the White House when you go.)

Finally, we really, really need to have a purge at the CIA. Maybe the President could use some of those secret prison camps they have set up.