Spring Chickens and Roosting Time

Ah, the sights and scents and sneezing of spring! Here in the Bay Area, the first wave of flowers has come and gone, and we’re well into the second one. Normally there aren’t many more waves on the way, because there’s no water; but the weather’s gotten weird over the last few years. Wonder why…

Anyway, everyone knows the Bird of Spring is the Chicken, which has come home to roost with a vengeance. Apparently this time it’s personal. Hubris, meet Nemesis.

My New Nickname for the Attorney General

One of the chickens has Alberto Gonzales’s name on it. If he were bright, he’d use the two-day reprieve he got from the Virginia shootings to consider his position, and resign tomorrow. Kyle Sampson’s testimony has directly contradicted his, and John Conyers wants to offer limited immunity to Monica Goodling, the star of Messiah and Regent. On Thursday, assuming no new shootings or terror alerts, Gonzales will be raked over the coals, humiliated, and most likely caught lying or dissembling in a manner clear enough for his remaining Congressional support to collapse. Then he’ll resign.

And become, in the process, another in the series of underlings who’ve gone under the bus for the Bush machine. From a human point of view, you gotta hope their families are somehow compensated for the public embarrassment and historical disdain generated by their most visible member.

I must be the millionth blogger to suggest that, for the few remaining days of his service, we call the Attorney General “AGAG”. It is, of course, the simple-minded acronym for his office and his name, plus it includes a passing reference to his most famous memo justifying, or at least preparing legal defenses for, torture. Finally, it helps us remember what to spoon him with.

Buried Under Roving Charges

Gonzales is another example of two trends: Bush’s obvious skill, no doubt something he’s honed over a lifetime, at diverting some of the responsibility for his own misdeeds; and his willingness to throw loyal supporters into the breach to buy Rove time to escape.

Bush, like his father, is willing to dump anyone he doesn’t depend on. It appears that list is limited to Cheney, Rove, and his Father, not the earthly sort. You know, the voice in his head or wherever.

Every day brings further proof of the accuracy of Jerry Doolittle’s diagnosis of Shrub’s behavior as father-figure issues. He’s transferred parental trust to Cheney, at least in part because Cheney and his pal Rumsfeld were part of a group Bush 41 despised. And he knows he’s not sharp or strong enough to make it without his Svengali. If he were forced by circumstance to choose between the two, Cheney and Rove, it would certainly be must-see TV.

Another chicken’s name is Karl Rove. The Rovian ears must be burning a lot these days, what with all the talk about his email and the cartoons about him, Oops!, losing entire years of archives. His plot to turn the US attorneys into an extension of the White House political machine looks like it’s about to backfire, Big Time.

The US attorneys who felt political pressure and resolved the situation (by coöperation or negotiation or whatever) so they could remain in office might now feel a need to demonstrate their adherence to the old and widely felt tradition of political neutrality in their offices. One good way of doing that would be to prosecute cases they believed in, and skip those they don’t, and let the chips fall. You and I, beloveds, know that this would lead to a lot of Republican corruption convictions. If, for example, Carol Lam were to be reinstated, Rep. Jerry Lewis would need to hire an expensive attorney that afternoon.

All in all, if you’re engaged in vote suppression, you need some cover. Prosecutions of people who fill out forms incorrectly is transparently ridiculous, or should I say Republican. The people we should be prosecuting are those who make sure that certain areas have plenty of voting machines while other areas are woefully undersupplied.

And if you’re engaged in such activities, it doesn’t seem like US attorneys are folks you wanna piss off. They’ve got serious power to mess with you; it’s probably better you don’t make them look bad.

Fried by the French

You’ve probably heard about George Tenet’s new book coming out at the end of this month. As of this writing, it’s 132nd on Amazon. David Ignatius of the Washington Post and Chris Matthews of MSNBC appear to have seen advance copies. Chris starts:

“Tenet takes on vice president Dick Cheney. Cheney has maintained that Tenet told President Bush in December of 2002, two weeks before Bush decided to invade Iraq, that there was a ‘slam dunk’ case to be made that Saddam Hussein possessed those banned weapons. But now Tenet denies ever making that claim. David, this is a big fight. It’s pushback time. How tough is this book gonna be?”

Ignatius replied: “It’s going be very tough. George Tenet has been doing a slow burn ever since he left the CIA. He’s been angrier and angrier as he saw himself being essentially made the fall guy on WMD in Iraq. And he’s gonna come back saying he and his agency, the CIA, were pushed, again and again, by Cheney and Cheney’s people to give him the answers that they wanted. And he’s got chapter and verse on that.”

He added: “He will tell a story that I think will make people’s hair curl. But he’s been waiting a long time to tell this… And he’ll also say—this is a very important part of this—that, on the question of what would happen in Iraq after the invasion, the CIA pretty consistently warned, ‘You have trouble ahead. You will not be able to unite this country. Sunnis and Shiites are gonna be ‘at daggers.’”

Apparently NBC’s Andrea Mitchell knows something, too, because she kicked: “He’ll also attack and criticize Condoleezza Rice, who has denied a critical briefing before 9/11…a July briefing. They actually have the slide show that they showed her, where they were telling her that al Qaeda was threatening….You’re gonna be re-fighting both sides of who lost Iraq, who lost the WMD struggle. It might get pretty brutal.”

I suspect that the story Tenet tells will correspond to a great extent with Guillaume Dasquié’s article in Le Monde, “September 11, 2001: The French Knew Much About It”, as translated by Truthout. He obtained some secret documents created by the French CIA, the DGSE, and was able to get high-level French intelligence folks to verify the validity of the documents, while deploring their emergence.

The documents tell us what we already know: that bin Laden and his al Qaeda associates were planning to highjack planes in the US.

…these secret services chronicles about al-Qaeda, with their various revelations, raise many questions. And at first, a surprise: The high number of notes devoted exclusively to al-Qaeda’s threats against the United States, months before the suicide attacks in New York and Washington. Nine whole reports on that subject between September 2000 and August 2001, including a five-page summary entitled, “Airplane Hijacking Plans by Radical Islamists,” and dated … January 5, 2001! Eight months before September 11, the DGSE reports therein tactical discussions conducted between Osama bin Laden and his Taliban allies from the beginning of 2000 on the subject of hijacking American commercial airliners.

Who can hear “Airplane Hijacking Plans by Radical Islamists” without recalling “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US”? Apparently the warning signals were flashing so clearly that both the CIA and the DGSE saw them. What kind of White House operation could possibly misunderstand that?

As of January 2001, the al-Qaeda leadership nonetheless showed itself to be transparent to the eyes – and ears – of French spies. The redactors even detailed disagreements among the terrorists over the practical modalities of the planned hijacking. They never questioned their intention. Provisionally, the jihadists favored capturing an airplane between Frankfurt and the United States. They established a list of seven possible companies. Two would finally be chosen by the September 11 pirates: American Airlines and United Airlines. In his introduction, the author of the memo notes, “According to the Uzbek intelligence services, the airplane hijacking plan seems to have been discussed at the beginning of 2000 during a Kabul meeting of representatives from Osama bin Laden’s organization….”

Apparently the French documents have a good deal of detail about bin Laden and the planning of 9/11. Clearly these documents would have been passed by the DGSE to the CIA; but the Paris bureau chief at the time, now back in the US, refused to confirm receipt to the French reporter.

If Tenet talks about flashing signals like those from the French, people running around with their hair on fire, and his emergency meeting with Condi in July of 2001, which she’s denied, in the same month that Gonzales is caught lying, and the genesis of the political chicanery about US attorneys is proven to be Rove, Big Time and Shrub might start to feel the heat. Laugh at Kucinich’s attempt to bring impeachment charges against Cheney if you will; everyone agrees the charges are true, we’re just disagreeing about what to do about it.

The question is, do Bush and Cheney have enough cannon fodder and under-the-bus volunteers to keep the war going and the bus at bay for the remainder of the term? My bet’s on the daily double: Leahy and Conyers.

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