You are Joseph Wilson, former U.S. ambassador to Gabon, former member of the Clinton National Security Council, a more rabid Democrat partisan than you had ever let on, and an implacable opponent of the U.S. military intervention in Iraq.
Not incidentally, you are notably ungrateful to the first President Bush for your crosspartisan ambassadorial appointment. In
fact, you regard that gesture with contemptin the same way the communist world was always contemptuous of Western efforts tosell them the ropeby reaching out in friendship.
Like the rest of the national Democrats, the war in Iraq is an
anathema to you. Like the rest of the national Democrats, you spend much of your waking time scheming over how to use the war against Republicans. (True, some Bush blunders are now facilitating that task.)
It is not exactly clear when the delicious idea first occurred to
you, or precisely when the Eureka! moment happened. Regardless, the idea surely was the nexus between your own background in Africa and the Democratic political machines strategy of undermining George W. Bushs credibility by stirring up phony controversy.
Obviously there was a need to foment doubt about the Iraq Wars
premises through smear tactics. (The truth is immaterial to you and
your kind, and you cherish that advantage. Youve always thought theBig Liehas a nice ring to it. Not coincidentally, you have since been exposed as a serial liar.)
Meant To Fail
After a few weeks of your almost-too-clever neurons dwelling on
all this, it came to you clearly. The details are superfluous, but the
essence of the scheme goes like this:
You have some of your anti-Bush CIA midlevel cronies order you, of all people, on a bogus mission to Niger. You posture your way through a pseudoinvestigation (nothing more than talking to a few local people you know have no useful information). You produce a stream-of-consciousness summary that you will fraudulently label areport,and then you publicizefindingsto the effect that the Iraq government did not attempt to buy nuclear materials from Niger.
Beautiful. The last thing you want to do, ideologically, is find
information to vindicate Bush, so all you have to do is fail in your
This is way too easy, especially going up against the flat-footed
Bush people who cannot comprehend the depth of mendacity that is second nature to you.
That you prearranged for your CIA-employed wife to initially
suggest your participation to the scam claque, or whether she was set up to transmit the contrived request to you, is merely a novel touch and possible diversion that you may be able to use later. Hold that thought.
Presto! Youve manufactured an issue with the potential to bring
down the enemy administrationyour enemy being Republicans, not Saddamite Iraqis. This is your best work ever!
And it is clever indeed. Youve always known you are much smarter than the rest of your circle realizes, and this brainstorm gets bigger every time you think about it. Now it is leading to a book deal, the TV fame youve long craved and, no doubt, an unlimited political future in the Democratic Party, to whom you are becoming a real hero.
But if your scheme, your hoax, is so easily penetrated by this
writer, how is it so brilliant? How can it not be discredited?
No problem. Youve had that answer figured out from the beginning, to wit: The liberal Democratic media will help you pretend. The network news anchors and the rest will dutifully look the other way and report your fraud as fact. They can always be counted on to run interference.
You know this, and you plan to use it.
Now here comes the kickerthe compound, leveraged, derivative, second-stage effect. It had been known within the Bush administrations political arm, and much of Washington, that you were running this one-man counterfeit campaign to damage Bush, as described.
Naturally, the Bush people were motivated to fight backfairly,
unlike your methods. Their approach is, in fact, the opposite: trying to set the record straight with the truth, as transmitted to the
media. That is what Karl Rove did for Times Matt Cooper.
What you also know is this: Bob Novak asked the natural question, i.e., how an unlikely, unqualified type like you could get the Niger assignment, and his source mentionedyes, mentionedthe connection via your CIA wifes staged intercession.
This disclosure, of course, is not a crime. Moreover, you know
from your media sources that one or two administration political
operatives raised the fair question with reporters about why your
wifes role was not being investigated and reported, using such
language asfair gameorin play.
You know full well that these contacts are Marquess of Queensberry methods compared with your bare-knuckles street fighting, which gives you more basis for anti-Republican contempt. (The fact that reporters contacted by administration sources immediately reported back to youis that why they are calledreporters?is revealing of their true nature, motives, leanings and duplicity, as if there were any doubt.)
Then the real clincher comes to you: Your wife once was a covert
intelligence operative! This is too perfect. Even though the contact
outlined above is not remotely close to theoutingof a covert CIA agent, you are perfectly capable of posturing as if it is exactly
Again, you know the liberal media will help you get away with it
because of their own desperation to injure Bush and the war effort. Why, you could even begin to claim that the Bush administration is endangering your wifes safety. This is too choice! Somehow, you will eventually get around to saying that you did it for the children.
Oh, what a tangled web we weave. Your brilliance is not without
flaw, however, unfortunately for you. Too clever by half? First,
Congressman Peter King noted that your self-publicizing of the Africa trip surely violates CIA secrecy, for which you should be prosecuted. But it gets worse.
Your inherent dishonesty may be a tactical advantage, but such an
orientation is doubleedged. Just ask the old Soviet Unionif anyone answers his phone.
You knew it was false when you accused the Bush people of outing poor Valerie, but implicit in that is the reality that they did not do it, and this suggests your canards fatal flaw. Merely referencing someones employ in the CIA is not illegal or unscrupulous, unless…
So who didoutyour wife? Sure, some reporters began referring
to Valerie Whatsher-name (we cant be too careful here lest we be unjustly accused) as acovertCIA operative. But that does not meet the legal test of a crime because they were in no position to know what they were talking about. They were only parroting.
No, the only one with the legally requisite prior knowledge of
your wifes covert statusif she even was covertand who
intentionally announced it publicly, thereby possibly violating
federal law, was none other than you, Joseph Wilson.
Right you are, this is too delicious. And you did say you wished
federal prosecution for the person who outed your wife, didnt you? Do you know how to do the frog-march, Mr. Wilson?
One can hope the Bush administration has the backbone to follow
through with such rightful and poetic prosecution of Joseph Wilson, and to resist inevitable Democratic cavil that it would be vindictive intimidation. The other approach, reaching out in bipartisan spirit to political enemies, hasnt worked, has it Mr. President?
Go get him. The arrogant jerk deserves it, and it is the law.
* John Gaski is an associate professor at the University of Notre Dames Mendoza College of Business. *