It takes a felony...

A man was asked to use his experience in the service of his country, to investigate rumors of a potential threat to national security. He did, and reported back truthfully what he found – that the rumors were false and no threat existed.

He was ignored by those in power who sent him on the mission. He remained quiet until the day he heard that false rumor and false threat used in the justification for war.

Again he spoke the truth, this time to the public through the press. Those in power responded with attacks on his credibility, character and reputation – then set out to destroy his wife's career.

Karl Rove, chief advisor to George Bush, and Lewis Libby, chief of staff for Dick Cheney went after Joseph Wilson and his wife, Valerie Plame (Rove called her "fair game") in what was both an act of revenge and a naked abuse of power intended to intimidate critics of the administration.

Along the way, they violated every ethical standard that exists. They violated national security and put CIA operatives and their contacts at risk. They broke the law, although that may be difficult to prove under the technically vague federal laws that apply to national security violations.

Libby acts on the orders of, and on behalf of, Dick Cheney. Rove is Bush's closest advisor and longtime friend. The behavior that they now admit to, after two years of denials, is roughly equal to the kind of cheap criminal thuggery that pervaded the White House in the time of Richard Nixon.

Bush once insisted that anyone leaking secrets from within his administration would be fired for that breach of trust. But Rove or Libby will now have to be convicted of a felony before Bush will consider firing either of them. After all, Rove, Libby and and Cheney are key members of the inner circle that Bush serves.

Bush has hired a private attorney to advise him as he speaks with investigators about the matter, yet he has little to fear. The crimes of Nixon's inner circle brought down his presidency; Bill Clinton faced impeachment for lies and disgracing his office; Bush, however, has Ronald Reagan's gift of remaining untouched by scandal.

Perhaps that's because we all recognize that, like Reagan, Bush isn't really in charge. That was made evident on 9/11 when, after the first tower was hit, Bush was left alone for twenty minutes reading stories to schoolkids while his "aides" did what they thought was needed. At that same moment of impact, Cheney was rumored to be in a secret command bunker supervising a "military exercise"; and that's an appropriate snapshot for the true location of power in America today.

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