“The storm clouds gather; the goalposts recede; Twickenham itself recedes …”
Also receding, some fear, are George W. Bush and his chums.
Or are they? Everything turns on what happens on Melbourne Cup day, US time. If the Republicans lose control of the House of Representatives, there will be an inquiry into how Bush lied his way into invading Iraq, and that will be followed by his impeachment – Bill Clinton, after all, was impeached merely for lying about a girl – and/or charges laid by a Special Prosecutor against other powerful and respectable people.
Elizabeth de la Vega, a former federal prosecutor and member of the Organized Crime Strike Force, takes political crime more seriously than most US editors. In The White House Criminal Conspiracy (The Nation, November 14, 2005), she said s.371 of Title 18 of the US Code “prohibits conspiracies to defraud the United States”, and that:
“The Supreme Court has defined the phrase ‘conspiracy to defraud the United States’ as ‘to interfere with, impede or obstruct a lawful government function by deceit, craft or trickery’ ... proof that [two or more people] were conspiring requires a comparison of their public conduct and statements with their conduct and statements behind the scenes. A pattern of double-dealing proves a criminal conspiracy … ‘fraud’ is broadly defined to include half-truths, omissions or misrepresentation; in other words, statements that are intentionally misleading, even if literally true.”
Ms de la Vega named what may be termed the Iraq Seven:
“From the fall of 2001 to at least March 2003, the following officials, and others, made hundreds of false assertions in speeches, on television, at the United Nations, and to Congress: President Bush, Vice-President Cheney, Press Secretary Ari Fleischer (snap), National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and his Under Secretary, Paul Wolfowitz. Their statements were remarkably consistent and consistently false.”
I take that to mean that Bush’s people cannot afford to lose the lower house, and therefore that, one way or another, they won’t.
And that will happily mean that on Christmas Eve 2008, as George prepares to bid farewell to all his greatness, he will not, unlike his father, have to issue a bumper crop of pardons.
* * *
Law 101 (cont’d).
Michaelmas exam. Responses to be not less than one word and not more than one page. Eyes down; left arm round.
Part B. Greymail.
1. Blackmail is the crime of theft by extortion with threats/menaces. Is greymail a nicer name for blackmail sanctioned by the system?
2. Discuss the following cases in terms of grey/black mail.
Richard McGarrah Helms (1913-2002 – snap) journalist, tailor’s dummy, mass murderer, was CIA chief 1966-73. In 1976, he was charged with perjury about the CIA’s 1970 attempt to prevent a socialist, Salvador Allende, being elected President of Chile.
Helms’s lawyer, Edward Bennett (The Man to See) Williams (1920-88), leaked a threat to Bob Woodward: “If Helms tells what he knows, the government won’t be able to function.”
He was allowed to plead no contest to a lesser charge, “misleading”, and got a two-year suspended sentence.
Lt. Col. Oliver Laurence North (b. October 7, 1943) took part in a criminal conspiracy, Project Democracy, to destroy democracy in Nicaragua (See Justinian, July 25, 2006). He got money from illegal arms sales to Iran and illegally gave it to terrorists in Nicaragua. The operation was sprung in November 1986.
Special Prosecutor Lawrence Walsh charged Ollie with 16 felonies, but his lawyer, John D. Cline, said to be a graymail (as the seppoes sensibly spell it) specialist, contrived to make the most serious charges go away. North was convicted on three counts in 1989 and got a suspended three-year sentence. Even those convictions were quashed on appeal.
President Ronald Reagan’s diary showed he was involved in the conspiracy, but he successfully pled the Dementia Defence – I can’t remember – to Walsh, and Vice-President George H.W. Bush said he (Bush) was “out of the loop” on Project Democracy.
On Christmas Eve 1992, as outgoing President, Bush pardoned six who WERE in the loop, including Reagan’s War Minister, C. Willard (Cap) Weinberger (1917-2006).
Irving Lewis (Scooter) Libby (b. August 22, 1950), lawyer, national security assistant to President George W. Bush and chief of staff to V-P Cheney. Libby was charged in October 2005 on five counts of perjury and obstruction of justice. The max is 30 years in prison and fines of $US1.25 million (.6million)..
The charges related to the 2003 outing of a secret CIA agent, Valerie Plame (snap), after her husband, former diplomat Joe Wilson, disclosed that in 2002 he had demolished Cheney-Bush claims that Mr Saddam Hussein possessed nuclear materials from Niger. They made the claims anyway as an excuse for illegally invading Iraq.
Libby’s best options were perceived to be the Graymail Defence – he hired John D. Cline – and not to have a trial at all. Elizabeth de la Vega recently noted that on March 10 trial judge Reggie Walton appeared to use the anti-graymail Classified Information Procedures Act 1980 to seriously undermine his graymail defence.
The trial, due to start on January 16, would expose to public gaze the secret workings of Cheney’s bunker on Iraq and other dubious matters. Ms de la Vega wrote:
“The White House appears to be shifting to Plan B: a PR effort to pave the way for a presidential pardon of Scooter Libby – before the trial.”
The flackery will appear in the pro-Republican media, which is most of it. If the Bush chaps keep control of the House next week, Libby-watchers will be on high alert on Christmas Eve.