Wednesday, May 17

A Rose by Any Other Name....

The creation of the Plumbers Unit (officially: the White House Special Investigations Unit) was just one of a series of semi-legal or flat-out illegal steps taken by the Nixon cabal to investigate leaks of classified information.


The original goal -- or at least, the stated goal -- of these efforts was to plug leaks. But the program quickly metastasized into an all-purpose domestic spying/political dirty tricks operation, beginning with the burglery of Ellberg's psychiatrist's office in an effort to find dirt that could be used to blackmail and/or discredit him. The entire operation was eventually transferred to CREEP (Nixon's 1972 reelection committee), where it generated an increasingly bizarre array of schemes -- like G. Gordon Liddy's idea of luring delegates to the 1972 Democratic convention onto offshore prostitution barges, again for blackmail purposes. The plan failed, however, after the Kennedy family insisted on a group discount.

But seriously.

I Love Billmon's writing. Well, at least when he gets around to it anyway (But that's just the pot calling the kettle black). He has an eloquence about his writing that is mirrored by a growing number of writers, such as Digby and the wonderful bloggers at Firedoglake. What I like most is how succinct Billmon's application of history repeating itself is.
My point is that the progression from national security leaks to leak investigations to political dirty tricks to an all-out assault on the Constitution is a movie we've already watched before. True, the remake is playing out a little differently -- the Cheney White House didn't have to create its own Directorate of Dirty Tricks because the official organs of state security are all on board, even if some of them had to be press ganged. And the neoplumbers haven't had to worry nearly as much about Congress finding out, or doing anything to stop them it even if it did. Liddy's "love boat" idea may not have been so crazy after all.

But basic pattern still seems to hold -- small crimes (or at least, less egregious ones) lead to bigger crimes. Indeed, the big crimes can quickly come to seem imperative, if the earlier crimes are to be kept secret. Bud Krogh, the original plumber, has speculated that the Watergate coverup might never have happened if Nixon hadn't known that the Ellsberg break in (and all those other abuses) were also out there waiting to be discovered. And of course, having given the green light to the cover up, Nixon and company had to commit even more crimes to try to cover up the cover up. Once you get on that particular express train to hell, there's no getting off.

It's a hard correlation to ignore. The only big dfference here is that the administration as a whole is behind this one, despite the best efforts of the President. I find it hard to think that anyone presented with even the most bare- bones of basic frames of this administration's schemes in the grey area of legality wouldn't connect the dots. And yet, after watching MSNBCBSFox for a couple of days, there is hardly anything about our own Watergate. I see two reasons for this: Either we haven't had a hotel to name the scandal after yet, or there's been a willing omission of it from the traditional media.

There is an interest in it. Just read over the liberal blogsphere for a day (Or just firedoglake for an hour for a quick hit of it all) and you will find millions of people interested in what the media is not telling us. Perhaps that's the problem, or at least the solution: What we want to hear is not covered by the traditional media. They'll claim lack of a market for the story most likely. They're worse than a child when it comes to attention span. Give a story a day or two, and it's gone. Unless of course a young white female is in trouble, then the story will last for weeks on end.

But anyway, let's get this rant back on track:
The real lesson of Watergate is that the two phenomena -- national security absolutism and good old-fashioned political ratfucking -- are joined at the skull, like inseparable Siamese twins. You can't have one without the other, particularly in a system that is otherwise designed to prevent the kind of radical accumulation of power the Nixon and Bush II White Houses represent.

That's why it's so easy to suspect that the current drip drip drip of revelations will eventually show the Cheneyites indeed have followed in Tricky Dick's criminal footsteps -- if not to the very end, then at least past the point of no return. And the ABC News story just might point the way.

So there may be salvation yet. The traditional media may get out of that funk of non-admission of government wrongdoing its been in for the last 5 1/2 years (what an odd number for it to be... I wonder what happened in January 2000...). But my gut sends a signal telling me not to hold my breath. And if Stephen Colbert has taught me anything, it's that great people listen to their gut.


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