The Bush administration has become the Scandal of the Month Club. Some are major scandals -- Walter Reed, Hurricane Katrina, and Scooter Libby comes to mind. Some are odd and quickly forgotten -- Health and Human Services Dept. official Claude Allen's ripping off of Target stores, for example. But they keep coming with such regularity that someone should put out a newsletter.
The latest scandal is the firing of federal prosecutors for political reasons. I haven't really been following it, because I wasn't sure it was going to go anywhere. Administrations dismiss federal prosecutors all the time. In fact, anyone who becomes a prosecutor and thinks, "I'm set for life," hasn't been paying attention. But the Bush administration lied when it let them go, saying that they were being dismissed for poor performance. In doing so, it put an undeserved blot on their records that stands a real good chance of screwing up their career track. The administration lied about the prosecutors' records in an attempt to cover up what they were doing.
And covering it up is where they got themselves into trouble. The prosecutors were investigating corruption, the targets were republican, and the elections were coming. The scandal reaches all the way to the White House.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has characterized the controversial firing of eight U.S. attorneys as an "overblown personnel matter." If so, it is a personnel matter that appears to have involved the White House. A spokeswoman for the President revealed the White House's deep involvement in the decision to dismiss the prosecutors, a step that involved former White House Counsel Harriet Miers, Presidential adviser Karl Rove and, apparently, even Bush himself. Meanwhile, Kyle Sampson, chief of staff to Gonzales and the official in charge of drawing up the list of fired prosecutors, has resigned amid continuing allegations that the eight — all Republicans — were ousted for political reasons, including their refusal to bring corruption charges against Democrats in the period leading up to last year's mid-term elections.
As the scandals pile up, as the administration's instinct toward dishonesty in all situations becomes more obvious, and as their concern for their own political fortunes overshadows their concern for the nation, it's easy to lose one scandal or another among the whole. There are so many that if I were to try to list them all here from memory, I'm pretty sure I'd fail. I'd forget the Dubai ports deal or censoring climate scientists. There are just too many lies and abuses and crimes. One person couldn't possibly keep track of them all.
But, no matter how bad things get, no matter what these people do or say, nothing can overshadow the monstrous crime at the center of this administration's history -- lying the nation into war with Iraq.
Nothing we were told about Iraq was true. There were no WMD, there were no ties to al Qaeda, there was no easy victory and dancing in the streets and flowers and candy for the liberators. It was all a lie told in part because a bunch of lunatic visionaries dreamed of a middle east controlled by the US, part because Iraq was swimming in oil, and part because war time presidents don't lose elections.
As we see more and more scandals unfold, it sometimes seems as if we're moving farther and farther away from the defining lie of the Bush administration -- and the huge death toll attached to it. We seem to have moved on, believing we can ignore the smoking ruin and ongoing mayhem that is Iraq. It's like the faulty survival mechanism in a dysfunctional family. If we don't talk about Daddy's alcoholism, it's not a problem.
The truth is that the war is a problem and the voters haven't moved on. Only the Washington establishment and the mainstream media has. And not the entire media -- the independent minded kid's still talking about daddy's drinking.
Brian Ross and Rhonda Schwartz, ABC News:
The Iraqi defector known as Curveball, whose fabricated stories of "mobile biological weapons labs" helped lead the U.S. to war four years ago, is still being protected by the German intelligence service, an ABC News investigation has found.
Intelligence sources, who provided ABCNews.com with the first known photo of the man, say he has been resettled in a small town near the Munich headquarters of the German service, which has continued to honor its original commitment made when he fled Iraq in 1999.
Curveball's false tales became the centerpiece of Secretary of State Colin Powell's speech before the United Nations in February 2003, even though he was considered an "unstable, immature and unreliable" source by some senior officials at the CIA.
Curveball is an excellent example of the sort of intelligence sources that the Bush administration relied on -- full of crap. Less concerned with finding the truth about Iraq than they were with finding a reason to invade, Bushco recruited the liars, the politically ambitious, and the insane as 'experts' on iraqi WMD and ties to terrorism. They hoped to bury the truth in an avalanche of BS.
Yes, let's keep watching the Scandal of the Month Club. No crime should be ignored because greater crimes exist -- Al Capone, after all, was finally brought down for tax evasion. If Bush and company finally goes down for something other than the Iraq war, I promise I won't be too disappointed.
But, if we forget how we got where we are today, it'll make it that much easier for another lying crowd of worldbuilders to bring us back here.