Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Reflapping the Lips

Two stories of mild interest, Libby (again), and large blocks of money.

So Lewis Libby's Grand Jury testimony is being played for the jury, and what they're hearing is that Dick Cheney told Libby to leak Valerie Plame's name to certain journalists, and also to leak particular passages of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIA) to one particular journalist: Judith Miller, formerly of the New York Times. This was meant to discredit Joseph Wilson's assertions that the Bush administration was exaggerating the threat re: Iraq and nuclear anything. More specifically, Joe Wilson's OpEd where he basically said the Niger Uranium story was BS and the fact that Bush included it in the State of the Union was not only wrong, it wasn't true. Libby spoke to a number of other reporters, (Robert Novak, Tim Russert, etc.) and basically told them the same story: that Joe Wilson's wife worked at the CIA, that she got him the job.

Sort of true, sort of not. Valerie Plame did indeed work at the CIA as part of a team investigating Weapons of Mass Destruction, and the movement of said WMDs through various backchannels, terrorist networks, etc. She did so under what is known as commercial cover, i.e., as a business doing legal, legit stuff as a front for doing a lot of behind the scenes investigating. All of this was outed, first by Robert Novak. So, the company that she "worked" for was outed to the world, and all its employees were then put in jeopardy. Any people she had contacted might then be arrested or killed under suspicion for talking to a foreign agent.

Valerie suggested her husband to the working group that was investigating the Niger claims, as he had an extensive background working in Africa. He had been praised by George HW Bush as a "hero" after the first Gulf War, as he was the last American official to talk to Saddam Hussein before the bombs started falling. He helped get many American citizens out of Iraq, right up until Desert Storm began. This guy knows stuff, and could find out stuff, both where Africa and Iraq were concerned. So Wilson went, talked to various folks, who all said essentially, yeah, Iraq might have asked, but there is no way we would have sold anything to them, and the documents you've got there are really crappy forgeries.

There's the backstory.

So Libby has been caught in numerous fibs (which is why he's on trial, after all), but the testimony of various prosecution witnesses has been super-extra damaging to the VeeP's office, as it would appear that Cheney was positively obsessed with shutting Wilson up no matter what. The revelations, even from current staff members working for Cheney, should be causing pretty large ripples in the media pond. So far, however, it's just us leftwing moonbats who are stirring the pot. There is even talk that some of this goes back to the Pres, but the only one who knows that for sure is probably Cheney, and I kind of doubt he'd screw over his boss.

The other short story is the money in Iraq. Lots of it. Lost. Shrink-wrapped pallets of $100 bills. Enough to just hand each Iraqi $150 in cash. $4,000,000,000. I love that term - "unaccounted." We forgot to count it. It's not stolen, it's unaccounted for. So they've been holding Paul Bremer's feet to the fire over there in the Oversight Committee. Not only are they bothered that he had 363 tons (TONS!) of cash just sort of dropped on the tarmac in Iraq, they're also asking uncomfortable questions like "what did you do with the $8.8 Billion, mister?" The Republicans on the committee, true to form, are accusing the Dems of playing the "blame game."

Heard that one before.

Actually, I believe the "game" they are playing is their jobs. The purpose of Congress is to make sure our tax dollars are spent properly. I for one, am delighted that they're finally doing their jobs, after a six year vacation.


Guatemala - 1954 Jacobo Arbenz Guzman was the first democratically elected leader of Guatemala, after a peaceful declaration of independence. One of his very first efforts was to redistribute unused, flat land to the citizens of the country (based upon the United States' own Homestead Act of 1860). Since the country is more than 30% mountainous, finding flat acreage was, in and of itself, a challenge. United Fruit Growers (who owned the bulk of arable land in Guatemala) opposed the efforts, saying that their land was worth $75 per acre (while reporting to the IRS that it was worth only $3 per acre). Guzman took them at their official word and offered to pay them $3 per acre. UFG was one of the power players in US business in the region. The US Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, and the Director of the CIA, Allen Dulles (brothers) were both major shareholders in UFG, as well as having connections to the law firm that represented UFG. The United States looked for any way they could oppose the land redistribution. The CIA began operation WASHTUB, and attempt to plant a phony Soviet arms cache in Guatemala.

Guzman was, at the time, looking to purchase arms with which to equip his army. The United States refused to help him, and Western Europe followed Washington's lead. Guzman was then able to purchase a small quantity of (poor quality) small arms and artillery from Czechoslovakia. This became the opening by which the United States was able to say that there was undue Soviet influence in the country. A CIA-sponsored coup was carried out against Guzman's government, beginning a civil war in Guatemala that lasted until 1996, and decimated much of the indigenous Mayan population.

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