THE BLOG

Libby Trial Will Reveal Iraq Spin Operation

Whether I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby is found guilty or not, his trial will finally allow the public to see how the Office of the Vice President led the Bush Administration's domestic agitprop campaign to get us into Iraq. It is my understanding that besides the Valerie Plame matter, Libby was the go-to guy for many Washington journalists who wanted the latest scoop on Saddam's purported WMD. He would sit behind his desk in the Pentagon and in a seemingly reasonable voice create and connect all kinds of scary dots to prove that if we didn't invade Iraq, Saddam would soon be able to kill millions of us. Bits and pieces of the story have, of course, already come out but the trial and the digging by the press that it should inspire should provide a fascinating, and dismaying, picture to us of how easily a group of zealots misled smart and not-so-smart people inside the Beltway. The press then spread this nonsense to the rest of the country.

There is another angle to the story that should come out, too. The New York Times story about Libby's notes indicated that Cheney told Libby he had learned about Wilson from George Tenet at the CIA. Tenet was not trying to defame Plame. It was Cheney who was trying to hurt the CIA. A longtime skeptic of the Agency, Cheney was evidently asking questions of CIA whose answers he and Libby could twist to throw blame right back at the Agency. The clandestine war between the Office of the Vice President and the CIA should be front and center at the Libby trial.

The Bush administration is the most secretive administration in decades. Ironically its efforts to mislead the public may provide us with the greatest insight into how we really went to war in Iraq.