Saturday, March 22, 2008



Lately, Jay Rockefeller has been a big fan-- the biggest Democratic fan-- of retroactive immunity for Bush Regime law breakers and their criminal cronies. It wasn't always that way, but it is now. Late last, as the influential chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, year he opposed the appointment of a special counsel or commission inquiry into the destruction of the torture tapes the CIA destroyed. A little over a year prior to that he voted with the Republicans to suspend habeus corpus for anyone the Bush Regime chooses, in their infinite wisdom to label an "enemy combatant," which means, basically, that that designation is not appealable in a court, giving the Bush Regime the authorize to cast anyone-- including Rockefeller himself if they so choose-- into a Kafkaesque/Orwellian nightmare. The bill allows Bush to use his own "judgment" to interpret the Geneva Conventions any way he wishes (in effect, absolving him and Cheney of ever having to face likely war crimes charges. And, that was Rockefeller's first taste of retroactive immunity-- a post-approve of a nine-year immunity to all Regime operatives who authorized, ordered, or committed acts of torture and abuse. Apparently he liked the taste-- a lot.

Since then he has been the guiding force in the Senate, along with Mitch McConnell, pushing retroactive immunity to Bush Regime personnel and telecoms executives who illegally spied on Americans. Four years earlier Rockefeller had written to Cheney to tell him the warrantless wiretaps the Regime was instituting were unconstitutional.

I'm reading a fascinating book by Russ Hoyle, Going To War-- How MIsinformation, Disinformation and Arrogance Led America Into Iraq. Rockefeller figures prominently towards the wrap-up phase. Let me quote a couple of paragraphs.
Senator John D. Rockefeller of West Virginia, the Democratic vice chairman of the intelligence committee, noted that "an iron curtain comes down" every time the committee question White House handling of the intelligence. "I have to say in all honesty that I am troubled by what I see
as a concerted effort by this administration to use its influence to limit, delay, to frustrate, to deny the intelligence committee's oversight work into the intelligence reporting and activities leading up to the invasion of Iraq," he said. Rockefeller came close to openly accusing the White House of ordering Republican committee members not to cooperate with the probe. "Any time the intelligence committee pursued a line of inquiry that brought us close to the role of the White House in all of this in the use of intelligence prior to the war, our efforts have been thwarted time and time again," said Rockefeller. "The very independence of the United States Congress as a separate and coequal branch  of the government has been called into question."

...Vice Chairman Rockefeller's early suspicions about the administrations role in manipulating the WMD intelligence were aroused by revelations just before the war that documents used by the White House to claim that Iraq has sought to purchase uranium from Niger were forged. At the time, he wrote to FBI Director Robert Mueller requesting that the FBI investigate the origins of the forgeries. "There is a possibility that the fabrication of these documents may be part of a larger deception campaign aimed at manipulating public opinion and foreign policy regarding Iraq," wrote Rockefeller. The FBI began a desultory two-year investigation that ended in the summer of 2005, although it was not made public until the eve of Libby's indictment. The FBI probe absolved the Italian government of conservative prime minister Silvio Berlusconi of any responsibility for producing or circulating the forgeries. This was, of course, the mysterious intelligence that first attracted the attention of Vice President Cheney in late 2001; that triggered Joe Wilson's trip to Niger in early 2002; that the president used in the 2003 State of the Union; and, that for reasons that were still murky, was at the heart of the White House leak case that Libby has lied about repeatedly.

As Senate Democrats began their push to complete phase two of the intelligence study, the FBI abruptly reopened its investigation into the Niger forgeries. New information had been published in the Italian magazine La Reppublica that suggested the forgeries may have been the work of the Italian government in concert with Americans who favored war against Iraq [criminal Cheney crony Michael Ladeen], or by members of the Iraqi National Congress, the exile group led by Ahmed Chalabi [and allied with Cheney and Ladeen on the one hand, and the Iranians on the other]. The FBI reversal also followed reports that its agents had failed to interview a key player in distributing the Niger documents, the former Italian military intelligence operative Rocco Martino, whom the FBI believed had operated purely for his own personal profit. A bureau source told the Los Angeles Times that the FBI didn't expect the new probe to come up with much new.

Rockefeller and other Democratic members of the intelligence committee welcomed news of the restarted FBI probe. But they did not hesitate to up the ante on the White House when major newspapers reported that the Bush administration had ignored intelligence warnings in 2002 that a captured al-Qaeda official, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, was a suspected fabricator. Al-Libi was the source of U.S. intelligence reports that al-Qaeda members had received Iraqi training in chemical and biological weapons. Rockefeller's reaction was swift and unambiguous. "Once again, we have another important example of where the administration was warned that information was questionable, yet they turned around and presented it as fact to the American people," said Rockefeller. "This most recent example underscores just how important it is that the Senate Intelligence Committee get to the bottom of whether this administration knowingly misrepresented intelligence in making their case for war."

Rockefeller's use of the word "knowingly" was a red flag for Republicans. But the next day the West Virginia Democrat stepped up his attack, explicitly rejecting intelligence committee chairman Roberts' stated preference that the second phase of the Senate report, like the first, would compare public statements by administration officials with the best intelligence available at the time. Instead, Rockefeller pushed for formal interviews with Bush administration officials if that proved necessary to  determine whether intelligence on Iraqi weapons had been distorted or misused. "Comparing public statements with what the intelligence community published does not alone tell the story," Rockefeller said. "If necessary, we may need to conduct interviews and request supporting documents. If the committee is denied testimony or documentation, we must be prepared to issue subpoenas."

So what happened to turn that lion into the pussy cat and rubber stamp he has become? The Regime pushback was fierce, painting those who had voted for the authorization for the use of force against Iraq-- like Rockefeller-- as unpatriotic hypocrites and as cynical partisans. Many-- DWT included-- have pointed to the intense lobbying effort (massive legalized bribes to members of Congress, especially Rockefeller) to get support for retroactive immunity. Rockefeller, who had spent $12 million dollars to buy his Senate seat originally then promised not to use his personal wealth in future elections. The $20,000 he got from telecoms was somewhat significant. But neither name calling from the Bush Regime nor "lobbying" from the telecoms seem likely to have turned Rockefeller into one of them. Is it possible that someone could have pointed out to him what fate befell implacable enemies of the Right-- from Wellstone to the Kennedys? Frankly, I'd believe that as quickly as I'd believe one of the wealthiest men in the Senate could be bought off with campaign contributions. Maybe the FBI can do a fake investigation of this too.

We need to know why there was such a drastic change of heart.

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At 8:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As usual, spot on info from DWT - I caught Rockefeller on CSPAN and he was delivering a passionate speech endorsing Obama and I couldn't reconcile how he could be pushing for Bushco and the Telecomm's on the one hand and speaking so strongly for Obama...they must have something on him - maybe info about a tryst at the Mayflower and a fine lady from the Emperor's Club...

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