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Libby indictment likely to spark new debate about Iraq war
From the SunHerald.com:
...the criminal charges against Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, come at the worst possible time for the Bush administration, and the context is critical.
Libby's indictment represents for the Bush administration something even more serious than the felony charge that it is. It invites a reopening, through a public trial and renewed political debate, of the most important decision of Bush's presidency, the one to wage pre-emptive war in Iraq.
..what had been a crucial strength of the Bush White House - its solidarity - could now be a weakness. The administration will have to spend time deflecting questions about what Cheney, and even the president, knew about the actions of Libby and of Karl Rove. Rove, the president's political maestro, is in a curious state, under investigation but not indictment, neutering him for the time being as a political force.
So the White House goes into a debate about the war that it cannot welcome, though it cannot avoid it. Underlying the Libby charges - and Democrats already were making this claim in a loud and public way - is the suggestion that the administration's unofficial war council would do almost anything to advance the cause of the war, to the point of deceiving the public.
"We now know that the White House risked our national security by leaking to the press the identity of a CIA agent in an effort to discredit and silence a critic of the president's invasion of Iraq," said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. "The American people know the cost of this war: more than 2,000 dead, more than 15,000 wounded U.S. soldiers, hundreds of billions of dollars already spent and no end in sight."
In an earlier time, the Bush camp may have simply tried to crush the integrity of the critic [Fitzgerald]. Such tactics have long been in the Rove political toolkit, and the administration almost perfected the craft of killing the messenger.
This time, though, the message is about national security. And the messenger, Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, is an especially tough critic to tarnish, given his impressive reputation and the fact that Bush himself recently complimented him.