The Vice President has decided to split Scooter Libby in half, replacing him with two other trusted advisers who also have dirty hands.
Both appear by title but not by name in the Libby indictment.
David Addington, Cheney’s new chief of staff, met with Libby two days after Joe Wilson’s op-ed came out. Libby asked Addington, then counsel to the Vice President, about paperwork the CIA might have “if an employee’s spouse undertook an overseas trip,” the indictment says.
John Hannah, Cheney’s new assistant for national security, was principal deputy assistant to the Vice President for national security affairs. The indictment mentions a June 19, 2003, article in The New Republic online entitled “The First Casualty: The Selling of the Iraq War.” According to the indictment, “shortly after publication of the article in The New Republic, Libby spoke by telephone with his then-principal deputy and discussed the article. That official asked Libby whether information about Wilson’s trip could be shared with the press to rebut the allegations that the Vice President had sent Wilson.
Libby responded that there would be complications at the CIA in disclosing that information publicly, and that he could not discuss the matter on a non-secure phone.”
That’s more than a little suspicious.
Both Addington and Hannah were questioned in the investigation, according to The New York Times. Both may have to testify at trial—if it ever comes to that.
But Cheney appears ready to take the risk of further entanglement and embarrassment in the scandal by promoting these two characters in the plot.
Addington’s and Hannah’s hands are dirty for other reasons, as well.
Addington was assistant general counsel to the CIA from 1981 to 1984, when Reagan’s CIA was funding the death squads in El Salvador and raising an illegal contra army to fight the Sandinistas.
As Cheney’s counsel in the Vice President’s office, Addington was a primary advocate of Bush’s military tribunal policy and his relaxed attitude toward torture.
“On at least two of the most controversial policies endorsed by Gonzales, officials familiar with the events say the impetus for action came from Addington,” R. Jeffrey Smith and Dan Eggen reported in The Washington Post on January 5. Addington even “drafted an early version of a legal memorandum circulated to other departments in Gonzales’s name.”
According to The Nation, that memorandum was the one dated January 25, 2002, which contains the following notorious line: “This new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva’s strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions requiring that captured enemy be afforded such things as commissary privileges, scrip (i.e., advances of monthly pay), athletic uniforms, and scientific instruments.” This memo also advises that a Presidential determination that says the Geneva Conventions don’t apply “substantially reduces the threat of domestic criminal prosecution under the War Crimes Act.”
Hannah, for his part, allegedly served as the funnel that Ahmad Chalabi used to pour misinformation about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction back to the White House. Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress (INC) led the propaganda effort, with an apparent assist from Hannah. “On June 26, 2002, the INC wrote a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee staff identifying Hannah as the White House recipient of information gathered by the group,” according to a Knight Ridder article by Jonathan S. Landay and Warren P. Strobel. (The article noted that Cheney’s office has denied Hannah received the information from the INC.)
Far from cleaning shop, Cheney has chosen to surround himself with co-conspirators.
Matthew Rothschild has been with The Progressive since 1983.
© 2005 The Progressive