[Marxism] McClellan: Bush Administration ‘has chosen to conceal’ the truth
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Fri Jun 20 15:45:31 MDT 2008
McClellan: Administration 'Has Chosen to Conceal' Truth
John Nichols | The Nation, June 20, 2008
Former White House spokesman Scott McClellan told Congress Friday that
the Bush-Cheney Administration continues to conceal information about
abuses of power committed to punish former Ambassador Joe Wilson for
challenging the President's storyline with regard to the "need" to
invade and occupy Iraq.
"This matter continues to be investigated by Congress because of what
the White House has chosen to conceal from the public," McClellan told
the House Judiciary Committee. "Despite assurances that the
administration would discuss the matter once the special counsel had
completed his work, the White House has sought to avoid public
scrutiny and accountability."
Speaking under oath, the longtime aide to President Bush seemed at
times to dumb down his testimony, softening points made in his
explosive book, What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and
Washington's Culture of Deception.
In the book and in interviews promoting it, McClellan suggested that
key players in the White House -- including political czar Karl Rove,
vice presidential chief of staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby and Vice
President Dick Cheney -- had at critical points in 2003 lied to him
(or, at the least, conspired to keep him in the dark) about their
involvement in the leaking information about the fact that Wilson's
wife, Valerie Plame Wilson, was a CIA covert operative.
Before the committee, the former spokesman was more cautious.
"I do not know whether a crime was committed by any of the
administration officials who revealed (Wilson's wife) Valerie Plame's
identity to reporters. Nor do I know if there was an attempt by any
person or persons to engage in a cover-up during the investigation. I
do know that it was wrong to reveal her identity, because it
compromised the effectiveness of a covert official for political
McClellan specifically attempted to absolve President Bush, while
keeping open the prospect that Cheney was an active conspirator. "I do
not think the president had any knowledge (of the efforts to harm
Wilson by leaking his wife's identity)," the former spokesman said.
"In terms of the vice president, I do not know."
McClellan's testimony confirmed Libby's role in the campaign to
discredit Wilson. And he raised new questions about former White House
Chief of Staff Andy Card's involvement in the wrongdoing.
Speaking of Libby, who in 2007 was convicted of perjury, lying to
federal investigators and obstruction of justice with regard to his
involvement with the plot to out Plame Wilson, McClellan said: "He
assured me in unequivocal terms that he was not (involved), meaning
the leaking of Valerie Plame's identity to any reporters, and then I
contacted reporters to let them know about that information."
"But," the former spokesman continued, "it was Andy Card that had
directed me to do that, at the request of the president and vice
If that sounds like a contradiction -- McClellan first suggests Bush
had no knowledge of the initiative and then says that he peddled false
information at the behest of the President -- it may be. Then again,
it is possible that Bush was lied to, as well.
What is clear, however, is that McClellan has provided a baseline of
information upon which the Judiciary Committee can and should build a
more serious investigation into White House wrongdoing.
Andy Card should be called to testify.
The White House did not invoke a dubious claim to executive privilege
to block McClellan's testimony because, Administration aides told CNN,
the president and his team determined that "there's nothing new" in
their former colleague's testimony.
Then Card should testify, under oath, about the same matters that
McClellan discussed. And if clarity is not achieved, then more members
of the Administration should be called.
The committee should get clear about the fact that the founders
intended Congress to have the authority to compel testimony by all
members of the executive branch, including presidents and vice
presidents, when Constitutional questions are in play.
The committee should, as well, get clear on its focus and responsibility.
The job of the House Judiciary Committee when conducting an inquiry of
this sort is not to look for specific violations of statutes or the
Common Law. The committee is not a congressional version of a criminal
The job of the committee is to examine whether high crimes and
misdemeanors -- the term of art for assaults on the Constitution and
the rule of law -- have been committed. The use of an executive
position to punish a critic of a monarch or a president is a classic
example of a high crime in the traditional sense. And that reading of
the language of the Constitution was reaffirmed by the bipartisan
House Judiciary Committee votes of 1974 to impeach Richard Nixon for
using his office to achieve similar political ends.
The Constitutionally-dictated system of checks and balances requires
that Congress hold the executive branch to a higher standard than
merely not getting caught committing petty or even serious crimes. The
job of the Judiciary Committee is to determine whether the president,
the vice president and their aides are operating in a manner that
upsets the separation of powers and undermines the functioning of the
federal government according to the plan established by the founders
in the Constitution and its supporting documents.
McClellan tells Congress that the Bush-Cheney White House "has chosen
to conceal (information about abuses of power) from the public."
McClellan tells Congress that "the White House has sought to avoid
public scrutiny and accountability."
It is the responsibility of the Judiciary Committee to apply scrutiny
and to demand accountability -- and to recognize that, if the current
president and vice president continue to stonewall Congress, then they
should face the same sanctions as were applied to Nixon.
Step one is to call Andy Card to testify. That's a natural progression
from today's session, and the only way to answer compelling questions
raised by McClellan's testimony.
>From there, the committee should follow the trail, without apology or
compromise, wherever it leads.
While they are at it, Judiciary Committee members ought to acknowledge
the obvious: When the former spokesman for the president and the vice
president says "the White House has chosen to conceal (information
about abuses of power) from the public," this is no longer an inquiry
into leaks about the identity of a CIA operative.
This is an investigation of abuses of power at the highest levels of
the executive branch. It is, as such, an examination of the sort of
high crimes and misdemeanors for which previous presidents have faced
the live threat of impeachment.
To sugarcoat that fact is to insult not just the intents of the
founders but the American people, who still believe that an oath to
defend and uphold the Constitution should amount to more than just a
mumbled phrase on inauguration day.
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