When will Congress do the right thing?
The latest article from Joe Conason in Salon Online asks the question that's on most people minds regarding former Press Secretary Scott McClellan, and the spreading of misinformation about Valerie Plame.
Scott McClellan, the former Bush press secretary famed for his robotic stylings, repetitive sophistry and rejection of candor, has at last turned on the powerful men who made him. Evidently he now claims to have grown weary of playing the patsy for their crimes and misdemeanors.Earlier this week, Olbermann, David Schuster, and John Dean examined McClellan's comment and it makes you wonder why hasn't the Democratic controlled Congress looked in to this matter yet?
In a short, tantalizing excerpt from his forthcoming memoir posted on the Web site of Public Affairs Press, McClellan complains that he was duped into misleading the public and the media. Although the excerpt does not mention Valerie Plame, it clearly refers to her whispered exposure as a CIA agent by ranking aides to President Bush and Vice President Cheney:The most powerful leader in the world had called upon me to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility he lost amid the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So I stood at the White house briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.
There was one problem. It was not true.
I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice President, the President's chief of staff, and the President himself.
By press time today, he had called his own probity into question again, in fact, when his publisher partially retracted the incriminating excerpt in an interview with Bloomberg News. According to Peter Osnos of Public Affairs, McClellan didn't mean to say that Bush deliberately lied to him about Libby's and Rove's involvement in the Plame leak.
[Bush] told him something that wasn't true, but the president didn't know it wasn't true," said Osnos. "The president told him what he thought to be the case." How McClellan knows what Bush knew at that time -- let alone how Osnos knows -- remains to be explained. (Perhaps the former press secretary would speak more clearly and less cutely under oath, as his predecessor did in the Plame grand jury.)
But despite this apparent stunt, McClellan's recollections have value because he reminds us of important business that Congress has yet to complete: namely, a full investigation of what Bush and Cheney knew about the outing of Plame, a veteran operative working to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, and whether they indeed ordered that reckless act.
UPDATE: The good senator from Connecticut is taking a stance.
Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan was one of the key figures in the Bush administration's efforts to respond publicly to the investigation into the Plame leak. He spoke for the White House and he was the filter through which the public learned about which officials were and were not involved in the leak. Standing in front of the White House Seal, McClellan famously denied any White House involvement in the leak, "If anyone in this administration was involved in it, they would no longer be in this administration."
Yesterday we found out that this simple statement attesting to McClellan's faith in the Bush administration's lawful behavior appears to be patently untrue. McClellan tells us, "I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice President, the President's chief of staff, and the president himself."
We need to launch an immediate investigation to determine the facts of this case, the extent of any cover up and determine what the President knew and when he knew it. If in fact the President of the United of States knowingly instructed his chief spokesman to mislead the American people, there can be no more fundamental betrayal of the public trust.
That any White House official, let alone the President and the Vice President of the United States, would instruct others to mislead the American people about revealing the identity of a covert CIA agent is beyond unconscionable. It is an action that makes us less safe and secure. Worse still, it undermines the ability of our intelligence community to act with the confidence that their work will not be jeopardized in order to advance the partisan interests of one political party.