Traitors in the House

Traitors in the House

By Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)
October 4, 2003

Bob Herbert, The New York Times columnist’s observation was to the point: “It's almost as if the president had a team in the White House that was feeding his credibility into a giant shredder.” It seems like a monstrous shredder indeed. There are no stoppages of curiously inflaming issues, initially nicely ornamented by the Bush gangs for the public consumption and within a few weeks or months, all the lies presented in the colorful wrap come unfolding, tearing away flowery ribbons and bare greetings.

Now the public is beginning to pay attention. Bush is slumping in the poll. All of his “hard-fought” manipulative efforts after the September 11, 2001 devastation appear to be losing their steam.

Is there any wonderment in it? Not at all, says Bob Herbert. He writes, “Despite the administration's relentlessly optimistic chatter about the economy, the Census Bureau reported that the number of Americans living in poverty increased by 1.7 million last year, the second straight annual increase. During those two years, the number of poor Americans has grown by 3 million. Belt-tightening is also in order for the middle class. The median household income declined by 1.1 percent, a drop of about $500, to $42,400. It was the second straight year for a decline in that category as well. Per capita income decreased, too. It dropped by 1.8 percent, to $22,794 in 2002, the first decline in more than a decade.” [2]

Bush’s corporate employed economists who provided all the mumbo-jumbo tax cuts for the rich, are scratching their heads and are still devising volumes of existential economic scenario in support of their voodoo economics. The deficits are back and well fed and nurtured after this administration came into power. No wonders, even the Republicans, albeit there are good Republicans, are starting to feel uncomfortable in Bush’s naughty-naughty economic leadership.

And now come the momentous event in American history. What was the Bush Administration thinking in releasing the identity of an undercover C.I.A. officer to news organizations? Is Bob Herbert much away from truth when he describes this administration as “arrogant, venal, mean-spirited and contemptuous of law and custom”?

After C.I.A. demanded a Justice Department Inquiry, Bush appointed his pal Ashcroft to head the investigation. Some critics are referring to this appointment as “fox guarding the henhouse”. All the fingers are pointing to Bush’s closest advisor, Karl Rove, who “has been accused of leaking the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame, in retaliation for her husband, veteran diplomat Joseph Wilson, blowing the whistle on the Bush administration's charge that Saddam Hussein attempted to import uranium for nuclear weapons from Niger.” [3]

Despite the repeated calls from the Democrats and other political and civic groups, Ashcroft has not budged in. He did not appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate this despicable act of treachery. Can Ashcroft be taken seriously on this “dependent” investigation?

The tie between Karl Rove and Ashcroft goes two decades back, “"It goes all the way back to the mid 1980's when John Ashcroft first ran for governor and then when he ran for the United States Senate against Mel Carnahan," says Moore. "Karl was so intimately involved." Not only did Rove work for Ashcroft in the 80s, but he was one of the main forces behind Ashcroft's controversial appointment to the job he currently holds, attorney general. Rove lobbied intensely for his former employer's nomination after Ashcroft lost his senate seat to a dead man, the late Mel Carnahan. [3]

There is an interesting observation on Karl Rove in Democracy Now’s article: “It is impossible for any of us to believe that this happened without Karl knowing about it," says author James Moore. "When you cross this man in the political arena, he gets even; and he gets even in a way that he doesn't just defeat you, he is compelled to destroy you. He doesn't know how to do a measured response when he is angry, and so he leaks information about people that destroys them." [3]

Perhaps this is well expected from the right wing politicians. Already the conservative media have begun to spit all forms of dirt against Mr. Wilson who blew the whistles. The Wall Street Journal editorial calls him “an open opponent of US war on terror.” perfectly knowing well that Mr. Wilson never opposed US “war on terror”. He opposed, for very good reasons, the newest war against Iraq, “because it had no obvious relevance to the campaign against terror. He feared that invading a country with no role in 9/11, and no meaningful Al Qaeda links, would divert resources from the pursuit of those who actually attacked America. Many patriots in the military and the intelligence community agreed with him then; even more agree now.” [1]

This is the same Mr. Wilson who was lauded as “truly inspiring diplomat” by Bush the father for risking his life when he stayed in Baghdad just before the first Gulf war erupted a decade back, helping in the rescuing of hundreds of Americans entrapped in Iraq. Without his timely help Saddam could have held them hostage. And now the right wing media and politicians are paying him back by pouring mud on his courageous character.

Paul Krugman introduces another valuable observation, he writes, “Before we get bogged down in the details — which is what the administration hopes will happen — let's be clear: we already know what the president knew, and when he knew it. Mr. Bush knew, 11 weeks ago, that some of his senior aides had done something utterly inexcusable. But as long as the media were willing to let the story lie — …… he didn't think this outrage required any action.” [1]

Does knowing the crime and who committed it while keeping mute about it all the time makes one accomplice to that crime? And if Bush did not know who had leaked this news, doesn’t it make Bush look like that he has no control over his administration? [4] Ira Chernus asks quite bluntly, “What else don't he know? In either event, the stain of this scandal is worse than anything Monica Lewinsky ever got on her dress.” [4]

With the question “who leaked it” comes another relevant question: why they did it? According to the various news analysts, the Bush administration retaliated against Mr. Wilson because he “went too far” when he had made the following observations in his two widely published articles this summer:

1. “Some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat."

2. “The Iraq-Niger hoax "begs the question as to what else they are lying about."” [5]

Ray Govern, a retired CIA analyst, observes the following: “That went too far for the White House, which took barely a week to react, using trusted columnist Robert Novak to retaliate. There was little they could do to Ambassador Wilson, but they were hell-bent on preventing others from following his courageous example. There are, after all, hundreds of people in U.S. intelligence and Foreign Service circles who know about the lies. Worse still from the White House's point of view, some are about to retire and escape the constraints that come of being on the inside. And, more often than not, the chicanery that took place can be exposed without divulging classified information. And so, White House Mafiosi decided to retaliate against the Wilsons in order to issue a clear warning that those who might be thinking of following the ambassador's example should think twice — that they can expect to pay a high price for turning state's evidence”. [5]

Doesn’t it feel like a déjà vu, having striking similarities with the old and disgraced Nixon administration when wiretappings, vengeance and retribution were things of the norm in the pursuit of “political enemies”?

Bush the father was absolutely correct when he had commented about four years ago the following:

Even though I'm a tranquil guy now at this stage of my life, I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious of traitors."
—George H. W. Bush, 1999 [5]

The son should heed to father’s wisdom. Perhaps Mr. Bush junior could show true patriotism, not the zealous flag waving one, but by being sincere to the Americans, and steering this nation away from a sure disastrous path.


1. Paul Krugman, “Slime and Defend”, New York Times, October 3, 2003.

2. Bob Herbert, “Shaking the House of Cards”, New York Times, October 3, 2003.

3. Amy Goodman and Jeremy Scahill, “The Ashcroft-Rove Connection – The Ties that Bind”, Democracy Now, October 2, 2003.

4. Ira Chernus, “So Many Scandals. So Little Time”, Common Dream, October 3, 2003.

5. Ray McGovern, “Conscience Before Career”, Tom Paine, October 2, 2003.

6. Picture Reference:


Mahbubul Karim (Sohel) is a freelance writer. His email address is: