Mark Groubert
Thu Oct 20, 2005 03:39

Special to Crooks and Liars
Mark Groubert

Although the President and Vice President are the only
two elected positions voted on by all Americans to
hold office, George Bush will get to appoint a
replacement for Dick Cheney if the latter is forced to
resign. That "nomination" will have to be confirmed by
Congress. See below). I guess the Founding Fathers
didn't think of everything. They never in their
wildest dreams could have foreseen the coming of two
Republican scoundrels. One Richard M. Nixon, the other
George W. Bush.

During the devastating political scandals of the early
1970s, this section of the amendment was applied
twice. In 1973, after Vice-President Spiro Agnew
resigned, President Nixon nominated Rep. Gerald R.
Ford to succeed Agnew. After a careful investigation
by the Congress, Ford's nomination was approved.
Vice-President Ford, in turn, succeeded to the
presidency when Nixon resigned after being implicated
in the Watergate affair. Ford nominated Nelson A.
Rockefeller for vice-president, and the latter was
approved by the Congress.

The Constitution gives the Congress the responsibility
for providing for the order of succession to the
presidency should the offices of both president and
vice-president be vacant at the same time.

The succession statute was most recently rewritten in
1947, when Congress established the succession in this
order: the Speaker of the House of Representatives,
the president pro tempore of the Senate, and the heads
of the departments in the executive branch of the
federal government, in the order in which the
departments were created, beginning with the secretary
of state.

The succession has never passed below the
vice-president, although this would have occurred in
1974, when Nixon resigned, had not the 25th Amendment
provided for the filling of the vacancy created by
Agnew's resignation a year earlier.

Wednesday :: Oct 19, 2005
Wurmser Is Now Cooperating With Fitz As Well
Raw Story is reporting this morning that a second Cheney staffer, David Wurmser, is also cooperating now with Patrick Fitzgerald. Wurmser, who is one of the PNAC true believers that encircle Cheney, Bolton, and Rummy, has according to Raw Story flipped along with Cheney and Bolton staffer John Hannah after they were threatened for their actions in attacking Joe Wilson's credibility. The Raw Story piece makes it clear that both Hannah and Wurmser revealed Valerie Plame's identity and role at the Agency at the direction of senior staffers in Cheney's office (read: Scooter Libby).

Late Monday, several sources familiar with Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s probe said John Hannah, a key aide to Vice President Dick Cheney and one of the architects of the Iraq war, was cooperating with Fitzgerald after being told that he was identified by witnesses as a co-conspirator in the leak. Sources said Hannah was not given immunity, but was likely offered a “deal” in exchange for information that could result in indictments of key White House officials.
Now, those close to the investigation say that a second Cheney aide, David Wurmser, has agreed to provide the prosecution with evidence that the leak was a coordinated effort by Cheney’s office to discredit the agent's husband. Her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, was one of the most vocal critics of the Iraq war.
Wurmser, Cheney’s Middle East advisor and an assistant to then-Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs John Bolton, likely cooperated because he faced criminal charges for his role in leaking Wilson's name on the orders of higher-ups, the sources said.
According to those familiar with the case, Wurmser was in attendance at several meetings of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG), a little-known cabal of administration hawks that formed in August 2002 to publicize the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. Those who say they have reviewed documents obtained in the probe assert that the Vice President was also present at some of the group’s meetings.
The sources say that Hannah and Wurmser were given orders by senior officials in Cheney’s office in June 2003 to leak Plame’s covert status and identity in an attempt to muzzle Wilson. The former ambassador had been a thorn in administration’s side since May 2003, when he began questioning claims that Iraq was an imminent threat to the U.S. and its neighbors in the Middle East.
We'll have no way of knowing how solid Raw Story's reporting here really is, until we see what Fitzgerald comes out with. On the surface, it sounds like he is using the two staffers to roll onto Libby, in the hope probably that Libby will then come clean about Cheney's role in all of this, something I don't think will ever happen unless Fitzgerald really can threaten Libby with a violation of the Espionage Act for directing the leaking a covert operative's name, among the other perjury and obstruction charges. But if you are to believe the account by Raw Story, it shows that there was knowledge aforethought about Plame's status, and that takes this into a very serious realm far beyond simple perjury and obstruction charges.

Even the Democrats are now asking what did Bush know, and when did he lie about it?

Even Tweety said this morning that this is evolving into a serious problem for Cheney, although Matthews spins this travesty as something Bush is detached from, and as a wholly-owned Cheney operation. Does anyone believe that?

The sources say that Hannah and Wurmser were given orders by senior officials in Cheney’s office in June 2003 to leak Plame’s covert status and identity in an attempt to muzzle Wilson. The former ambassador had been a thorn in administration’s side since May 2003, when he began questioning claims that Iraq was an imminent threat to the U.S. and its neighbors in the Middle East.

That July, Wilson penned a New York Times op-ed calling into question the veracity of intelligence President Bush cited in his State of the Union speech six months prior that led the nation to war.

Specifically, Wilson said there was no truth to the claims that Iraq had tried to purchase yellow-cake uranium from Africa. Bush officials said Wilson’s trip was a boondoggle, and was set up by his wife, Plame Wilson, who worked at the CIA on weapons of mass destruction.

The White House Iraq group was founded by Bush chief of staff Andrew Card and operated out of the Vice President’s offices.

To spread its message that Saddam Hussein was a nuclear threat, WHIG relied heavily on New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who, after meeting with several of the organization’s members in August 2002, wrote an explosive story that many critics of the war believe laid the groundwork for military action against Iraq.

On Sunday, Sept. 8, 2002, Miller wrote a story for the Times quoting anonymous officials who said aluminum tubes found in Iraq were to be used as centrifuges. Her report turned out to be wrong.

Wurmser’s cooperation with Fitzgerald would certainly come as no surprise to those who have been following his career. Last year, he was questioned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for his possible role in leaking U.S. security secrets to Israel.

According to a 2004 story in the Washington Post, the FBI interviewed officials in Cheney’s office and the Pentagon, including Hannah and Wurmser, former Defense Policy Board member Richard Perle, Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, to determine if they were involved in leaking U.S. security secrets to Israel, the former head of the Iraqi National Congress Ahmed Chalabi and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

The revelation that Hannah and Wurmser have become prosecution witnesses, as well as being identified as the original sources of the leak, indicates Fitzgerald now may be looking into the motive for outing Plame and how Administration officials sought to derail a vocal critic of Iraq intelligence.

The two administration hawks were instrumental in shaping the Bush administration’s agenda with Iraq prior to 9/11.

Wurmser was the lead author of a 1996 policy paper for then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu titled “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.” It called for removing Saddam from power in Iraq as part of a broad strategy to transform the region and remove radical regimes. Eight months before 9/11, Wurmser called for joint U.S.-Israeli air strikes on Iraq, Iran, Syria and Libya.

Hannah and Wurmser were first named as possible suspects in the Plame leak by Wilson, Plame’s husband, in his book, The Politics of Truth.

“In fact, senior advisers close to the president may well have been clever enough to have used others to do the actual leaking, in order to keep their fingerprints off the crime,” Wilson writes.

“John Hannah and David Wurmser, mid-level political appointees in the vice-president’s office, have both been suggested as sources of the leak …Mid-level officials, however, do not leak information without the authority from a higher level,” Wilson notes.

Today, The New York Times confirmed Hannah provided information to the prosecutor, writing, “Officials who testified or were questioned by investigators also included John Hannah, Mr. Cheney's principal deputy national security adviser.”
Cheney aide cooperating with CIA outing probe, sources say

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