Wednesday, June 20, 2007

E-mail to Richard Cohen

Sent to Washington Post sage Richard Cohen after his hacktackular column and chat.

Mr. Cohen:

I have a few observations on your recent column about Scooter Libby. I tried to raise these in the chat but apparently I came too late (and I'm sure you were hit with an avalanche of questions and comments, so it's not surprising).

The four main points I want to raise are these:

1) CIA Director Hayden confirmed to Congressman Henry Waxman that Valerie Plame Wilson was considered "covert" under the applicable statutes at the time her identity and employer were revealed. I find it difficult to understand how you can continue to maintain the opposite after this revelation by the man currently in charge of the CIA, who was brought in after the revelation and therefore cannot have any axe to grind, and who cannot be considered a partisan opponent of the Bush Administration and Scooter Libby.

2) You insist that there is no underlying crime because Libby himself did not initially reveal Valerie Wilson's identity. It seems to me that Libby's crime was obstructing the investigation into the revelation of the identity of a covert agent, not his faulty memory. Whether he himself committed that particular crime is not relevant; he obstructed the investigation and that is why he is being punished. Why do you disagree with that position, when a jury of 12 Americans agreed?

3) You have called for a commutation of Libby's sentence because he himself did not initially reveal Valerie Wilson's identity; that is now known to have been the work of Richard Armitage. But how is that different from the sentence of Charles Colson, who did not himself participate in the Watergate burglary? Like Libby, all he did was remain loyal to his superiors and participate in obstruction of the investigation of actions he did not himself commit.

4) You have said that high government officials should not be "called to account for practicing the dark art of politics," presumably referring to whatever dirty tricks they might engage in in the name of partisan politics. But isn't there a line that cannot be crossed in that regard, where the "dark art" subverts our political system and runs afoul of the law? And regardless of whether these violations of law might be trivial, are not high government officals expected to take responsibility when they do cross it? Further, do not high government officials have a duty to assist in the investigation and correction of these abuses, no matter how minor, and not obstruct such investigations?

Thank you for your time.


Let's just say I'm not shedding any tears for poor Scooter.

Monday, June 18, 2007

But who gets to be Max?

Ran across this on TPM while catching up from the weekend:

Holly vowed he would never again use unarmored vehicles for convoy protection. He went to his primary shipper, Public Warehousing Co. of Kuwait, and ordered a change. PWC hired ArmorGroup, which had armed Ford F-350 pickups with steel-reinforced gun turrets and belt-fed machine guns.

Other companies followed suit, ramping up production of an array of armored and semi-armored trucks of various styles and colors, until Iraq's supply routes resembled the post-apocalyptic world of the "Mad Max" movies.

Nothing says "progress in Iraq" like comparisons to a post-apocalyptic action film in which a desert area plunges into anarchy, with roving bands of well-armed militias struggling to maintain order.

I remember when I first got the game "Car Wars", how cool it was to have cars and pickups with machine guns and flamethrowers and all the James Bond stuff, and you would get together with your buddies and design cars and have them fight each other. Lotsa fun.

And there was "The Road Warrior" (the sequel to Mad Max, but the first one seen by a wide audience here in the U.S.), but for the most part those guys just had crossbows and boomerangs. Shotgun shells were a rare commodity. So it wasn't as cool as Car Wars; but it was a movie and not a game so you could see Mel Gibson taking it to The Humongous and his gang. And of course Virginia Hey as The Warrior Woman. But I digress.

I think it's sad that all we've managed to do after the hundreds of billions spent and thousands of lives lost is to recreate the conditions of the Car Wars universe. Instead of the M.O.N.D.O.s we have the Mahdis. It's all there. Roads of death, walled fortress enclaves, the works.

We need to get out of the way. Now.