For most of what you need to know about where we're going here, read this clip from the lead article
in Thursday's Washington Post ...
As the White House hunkered down, it
got the first taste of criticism from
within Bush's own party. Sen. Chuck
Hagel (R-Neb.) said that Bush "needs
to get this behind him" by taking a
more active role. "He has that main
responsibility to see this through and
see it through quickly, and that would
include, if I was president, sitting
down with my vice president and
asking what he knows about it," the
outspoken Hagel said last night on
CNBC's "Capital Report."
Hagel is a Republican, even if not much of a loyalist,
and he's pointing at what everyone's saying: that the
problem centers on the
vice president's office.
And people are adding a
name: Lewis "Scooter"
Libby, the vice
president's chief of staff
and close advisor.
A mountain of rumor
doesn't amount to a
single fact. But two
officers have now
publicly pointed to the vice president's office -- a
good sign, I think, that that's what they're hearing
from ex-colleagues at CIA. An increasing range of
circumstantial evidence points in that direction. And
now a United States Senator of the president's own
party has suggested the same.
If true, Libby's involvement would mean much more
than a rapid escalation in his attorneys' billable hours.
The backdrop to this whole scandal is the war that's
been going on between the Bush administration and
the CIA for two years. Another reporter who's
knowledgable about these issues and not at all averse
to this perspective, told me a few days ago that
"there are people in this administration who think that
the CIA was criminally negligent for 9/11 and that
the whole place should be shuttered." That's an
accurate portrayal of what a number of those people
That war with the CIA centers on the vice
president's office. If it turns out that Plame's
exposure originated there too, it will inject this legal
controversy -- this criminal investigation -- right into
that broader policy controversy, the whole issue of
the war against the CIA, the questions over
politicized intelligence, all of it. The mixing of the
two would be explosive because the white light of
press scrutiny and the sharp blade of a criminal
inquiry would tear open stuff that otherwise never
would have seen the light of day.
P.S. For some salient background see this piece by
Tim Noah from July 17th.
-- Josh Marshall