Sunday, April 09, 2006

Where is this all going?

John Kerry, on Meet the Press, asserted that President Bush had the authority to declassify material and that, therefore, W. did not break the law when he authorized Scooter Libby to show parts of the National Intelligence Estimate to Judith Miller. He said that what the President did was “wrong” and a “disgrace,” but not illegal.

A logical question that may be asked is whether or not, President Bush complied with Sec. 4.1(e) of Executive Order No. 13292, which may be found at Fed. Reg. Vol 68, No. 60, Page 15325 (March 28, 2003).

In case you don’t remember what it says, or don’t have easy access to the Federal Register, here it is:
Persons authorized to disseminate classified information outside the executive branch shall ensure the protection of the information in a manner equivalent to that provided within the executive branch.
Well, obviously, that doesn’t apply to documents that were declassified. So before you close your Federal Register, take a gander at Sec. 1.5(h) of Executive Order No.13292:
Prior to public release, all declassified records shall be appropriately marked to reflect their declassification.
Ibid. at Fed. Reg. Vol 68, No. 60, Page 15317 (March 28, 2003).

Did this occur? I doubt it.

Don’t get me wrong. I think it is plenty despicable the President of the United States was a party to leaking selected parts of the NIE, which parts were selected to be misleading. I think it is unconscionable that the administration did so as part of “a ‘concerted action’ by ‘multiple people in the White House’ -- using classified information -- to ‘discredit, punish or seek revenge against’ a critic of President Bush's war in Iraq,” according to Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, as reported in the Washington Post. I think there is not any doubt about that.

It’s just that I am also concerned about the fact that everyone in the media, and even those who would be presumed to be King George’s harshest critics are not examining the assertion that the President “declassified” the NIE before George Tenet did. I want to know why nobody is asking these questions.

Elsewhere I have revealed that I am, as it were, a child of the ‘60’s. What that means is that not only Viet Nam and Kent State, but also Watergate were landmark events in the awakening of my own political consciousness. The zeitgeist of the Watergate epoch was that the Fourth Estate would serve as a bulwark against fascism. We know that Bob Woodward won’t do that duty again. He’s too busy genuflecting to whoever will give him access to insiders.

But is there anyone else who can or will?

Earlier today, I listened to Mark Crispin Miller, author of Fooled Again, on C-Span. He argued pursuasively that the 2004 election was stolen. He also made the point that this was not corruption as usual, but rather a concerted effort to destroy democracy. I suppose that is why I thought it was somewhat ironic that Kerry's appearance on Meet the Press began with this banter:
MR. RUSSERT: But first, the man who received 48.3 percent of the popular vote in 2004 in his race against George W. Bush. John Kerry is back on MEET THE PRESS.


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA): Well, I’m glad to be here. I thought it was 49.2, but that’s OK. Who’s counting?

MR. RUSSERT: Forty-eight-point-three, but who’s counting?
Who's counting, indeed?

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

P.S. Thanks to Mark Crispin Miller for alerting me to the subject of the next post.

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