Monday, July 18, 2005

Lies: Watergate, Kissinger and Rove

President Bush might want to take a lesson from another liar who had his job:

I can see clearly now... that I was wrong in not acting more decisively and more forthrightly in dealing with Watergate.--Richard M. Nixon

I was not lying. I said things that later on seemed to be untrue--Nixon

A simple reason for the problems of Watergate could be traced to a request by Nixon’s Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger. The press was getting inside information through leaks, regarding the conduct of the War in Vietnam, and policies Kissinger was working on that he did not want publicized. In order to stop the leaks to the press, Kissinger asked Nixon for help. So Nixon and his team set up a special unit called “plumbers,” which was a euphemism for illegal bugging and wiretapping in order to “plug the leaks” of information.

This activity in itself was not responsible for the downfall of a president. Ultimately, the lies and attempts to cover up this activity became the “smoking gun” in the form of taped private conversations revealing Nixon’s deceit.

The lying by Scott McLellan, Bush’s press spokesman, and of course Karl Rove himself--that Rove had nothing to do with the leaking of Ambassador Wilson’s wife, as a CIA agent, to the press--is turning into a very similar round of events to Watergate.

Watergate had become the center of the media's universe, and during the remaining year of my presidency the media tried to force everything else to revolve around it.—Nixon

Today Bush said the following regarding Rove’s involvement in the leak:

We have a serious ongoing investigation here and it's being played out in the press," Bush said at an East Room news conference.--Huffington Post

Probably the best discussion to cut through to the core issue of the complexities of who leaked what to whom, and where fault lies regarding Bush or his inner circle, was Jon Stewart on his “Daily Show.”

It seems to me that whether or not this is a crime is a moot point. It seems to me that whether or not what Karl Rove was doing is a moot point. What seems like the real issue to this is simple: when it first came out that her name was released and people started wondering, 'was that a leak of a CIA operative?' the White House pretended they didn't know anything about it. And Karl Rove pretended he didn't know anything about it. To me that is so far, the only issue.

There are several problems with jailing journalists unwilling to reveal sources, not the least of which is how free a free press is. Obfuscation by national leaders over the Rove leaks may not hold a candle to lying about why the US started the war in Iraq. The handling of the Rove situation by the media and its importance is questionable as well.

But when it comes to intent, morality, and leadership ethics, Jon Stewart hit the nail on the head when he said, “To me that is so far, the only issue.”

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