What President Bush Should Do about Plamegate
The gentle whooshing sound audible throughout the Greater Beltway is the deflating hopes of assorted journalists, Bush haters, and Democrat officials whose fantasies of frog marches and impeachment hearings are now dead.
Today, the Wall Street Journal excoriates Richard Armitage, Colin Powell, former Acting Attorney General James Comey and Patrick Fitzgerald in terms so strong they seem to have read my mind. The Journal recommends a presidential pardon for Scooter Libby.
I would not go for a pardon, though. If I had the President's ear, here's what I'd advise him to do about the conspiracy by at least four Presidential appointees, including two Cabinet officers, to conceal this critical information from the President despite his specific demand to know the source of the leak.
As a preliminary step, assess the damage that was done to him and his credibility; the damage to the morale of CIA officers in the field (and perhaps troops as well) by allowing them to believe that people close to the President would deliberately put them in harm's way for narrow political purposes and that the Administration lied to get Congressional authorization to go to war; the damage done to the Presidency by tying up key staffers time and energy; the enormous waste of resources; the horrible damage to Scooter Libby who only got involved because he was trying to defend the President against the lie that he "had lied us into war."
I'm so livid at this tangible and intangible harm that I cannot imagine that the President doesn't share my fury at such damaging perfidy. If I were advising him, here's what I''d tell him:
(1) He should have Attorney General Gonzales report to him everything the Department knows of the Armitage revelations and when they occurred to ascertain whether any of the Isikoff—Corn report is false.
2) Former Secretary Powell should be summoned and asked when he learned of the Armitage admission and why he failed to report this to him.
(3) If the reports that he knew in September 2003 that Armitage was the leaker prove true, the President should publicly say that he is deeply disappointed in the conduct of the former State Department officials, that he doesn't question their belief that the Armitage leaks were inadvertent but that there failure to notify him of those leaks was inexcusable.
(4) If the facts indicate that former Attorney General Ashcroft and Comey knew who Novak's source was, the President should indicate his disappointment in them for having yielded to the press frenzy in appointing a special prosecutor rather than simply having the courage to tell what happened and why.
(5) He should express regret to the country for this unnecessary and longstanding distraction occasioned by these failures.
(6) He should express special regret to Scooter Libby and his family who have been forced to endure so much for no reason whatsoever.
(7) Finally, he should express disappointment in the unprofessional conduct of the Special Prosecutor who misled the public and the Courts, among other things, and he should announce that he is instructing the Atttorney General to dismiss Fitzgerald and drop the case against Libby.
The President is an honorable man who naively believed that these officials shared his courage and sense of honor and probity. He has so far not spoken on this matter nor criticized the evident failures of the Prosecutor or his former appointed officials, but it is now time to move, to place the blame for this longstanding and damaging distraction where it belongs, and to act to prevent further injustice and distraction from truly pressing matters of critical significance to this country.
Clarice Feldman is an attorney in Washington, DC, and has extensively covered the Plame Affair for the American Thinker,.