Still a lot of unanswered questions since last week's revelations regarding Scooter Libby's testimony to the grand jury in the Plamegate investigation.
Libby says that the president and vice president did not order him to leak Valerie Plame's name to reporters. I guess that is him falling on his sword and being loyal since Fitzgerald wouldn't have filed his brief saying that's what happened without that being the case.
It is still intersting to note that what Libby discussed with Judy Miller had absolutely nothing to do with whether or not Iraq sought "significant quantities of uranium from Africa," just that Plame was Wilson's wife.
There is still a debate about whether that information was classified when Libby and Rove talked to reporters about it. The NIE was on track to be declassified and several people, including John Dean, believe that the president cannot unilaterally declassify documents on a whim when that process is in place. And is it really declassified if the only people that know that the president declassified a document are the three people in the room? I mean, shouldn't the director of intelligence be told?
Probably the biggest dent in the president's credibility is that he won't deny or confirm what happened. He gets into semantic arguments about his "inherant powers" to declassify documents and how important it is to tell the public the truth. I would agree, but what he's revealed doesn't tell us anything about when the NIE was officially declassified.
Parsing his words as best I can, I think he may have been involved in this. Someone doing that many rhetorical backflips has something to hide. My guess is that he's claiming inherant executive power so that a later date, when it cannot be proven otherwise, and he gets caught having done something incredibly stupid, like tell the VP COS to tell reporters who Plame was, he can go back and say he had the power to declassify what he saw fit. The rest of us will get caught in an argument about whether he actually can do that and the issue and the criticism gets muddied.
The only way we could every get to the bottom of this is through Fitzgerald's independent investigation or through Congressional hearings. I don't know if we're ready for those hearings, talk would inevitably lead back to censure and/or impeachment.
I want to say something about that for a moment. I've long been ambivalent about impeachment. For political reasons, I thought impeachment sounded nice but I was unable to really get behind something like that. After the Clinton impeachment, America just didn't need to lose faith in its leader like that again. Two in a row could seriously tear this country apart.
But then you have to remember Richard Nixon. He resigned after the House drew up Articles of Impeachment after their hearings into Watergate. If Congress was to investigate, there are so many things that go so far beyond the Nixon White House that I don't think anyone could avoid impeachment talk. From cronyism in important jobs, possible intelligence manipulation to get us into war, domestic spying, Plamegate. The list seems endless and cannot go without some sort of official rebuttal from Congress should they get involved.
I'm more worried now at the loss of faith in all our leaders if we don't have Congress investigate these things. The American people have a right to know and politically expediency should take a back seat to what is best for our democracy. I fear, though, that Congress will not step in because of partisan loyalty. This goes way beyond partisanship and gets right to the heart of our republic. Congress should be investigating this White House.