A criminal organization has important members who commit criminal actions to forward the goals of the organization. Then, if those people committing criminal actions are threatened with being caught and punished, the criminal organization has large numbers of other people (who appear honest and non-criminal) whose job is to protect the core criminals.
What makes the current Republican Party a criminal organization?
George Bush, Dick Cheney, and a host of high-ranking other Republicans wanted to invade Iraq. Unfortunately, Bush 41 did a pretty good job of defanging Saddam and Iraq, and Bill Clinton kept the sanctions effectively in place while he was in office. So when Bush 43 and Dick Cheney took office, there was no justification for invading Iraq. But as is now well known, they really, really wanted to.
Fortunately for George W. Bush his old friend [*], Osama bin Laden, was out there to help. Taking advantage of the confusion of changing administrations and the general incompetence at running the federal government that the Bush administration has so frequently displayed, bin Laden was able to organize and carry out the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Upon entering office, Bush made the 9/11 attack a lot easier for al Qaeda by downgrading the counter-terrorism efforts and ignoring the many warnings they received from Clinton and members of his administration. (See Against All Enemies for details.) [**]
Using fear of terrorism to increase public fear
The 9/11 attack permitted the Bush administration to conduct a public relations campaign raising fear against Iraq so that Congress would pass legislation that allowed Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld to conduct the attack. The nearest thing to a rational reason for the invasion of Iraq was the NeoCon document Rebuilding America's Defenses from the Project for a New American Century. In it the NeoCons urged that America, as the sole remaining Superpower after the dissolution of the USSR, should focus on establishing its worldwide Empire. But logic didn’t result in the invasion of Iraq. The real reason for the invasion has been the concerted Republican campaign to frighten the American people and thus stampede the Congress into approving and supporting the war. [***] This has been a criminal conspiracy of the highest order.
The difficulties Republicans had in justifying the invasion of Iraq
The problem the Bush people and the NeoCons had was that Iraq was not really very threatening to America. Contrary to the PNAC fantasies, the Iraqi conventional military after the Persian Gulf War was just enough to maintain control of the many internal threats Saddam faced. There really was nothing left over to attack America. And Saddam was not significantly involved in terrorism.
Saddam's major connection to terrorism was to encourage Palestinian terrorists to attack Israel by offering $25,000 to the families of each dead Palestinian terrorist. That's PR, not real support like guns and training grounds. Saddam wouldn't provide either of those because the armed, trained terrorists who would result would be more likely to attack him than the Israelis. So how could the Bush administration make Saddam appear more threatening to Americans?
The only possibile way for the Republicans in the White House to get majority support to invade Iraq was to make it appear that Saddam had some really, really threatening super weapons or was trying to get them. Even chemical weapons or biological weapons were not really massively threatening. It takes large quantities of poisons to begin to create a credible threat against relatively small and local targets. Saddam didn't have those chemicals after the Persian Gulf War, and did not have the capability to make them. Nasty as chemical weapons are, they were not a major threat to the America.
Biological weapons have never been effective weapons of war. So the only possible weapon for teh White House to use to scare the American public was nuclear weapons, and the UN was carefully (and we now know, successfully) monitoring any attempt to develop nuclear weapons in Iraq. Beyond that, even if Saddam did get a nuke or two, he had no real way to deliver it to the U.S., nor was there a reasonable way to use it that gave Iraq a winning edge. One use of an Iraqi nuke on America and Iraq would have been converted into a radioactive smoking wasteland that no one could enter for a thousand or more years. The Bush administration ignored these realities because they did not suit their need to scare the American public into starting a preemptive war.
If the White House was to scare the American public into starting a purposeless war, they had to lie to the public in a great but baseless public relations game. They started by making sure that everyone knew that Saddam was a really nasty person, then they had to give the appearance that this nasty person, Saddam, was trying to get the only truly frightening weapon, nukes.
They started by carefully crafting their message around the imprecise term "Weapons of Mass Destruction" (WMD). Using the initials, WMD, gives the sense that it is a precise techinical term, which it is not. WMD range from the relatively easy to acquire but not especially effective chemical weapons up to the almost impossible to acquire nuclear weapons. This use of faux precise terminology allowed them to stoke the public fear of nuclear destruction by simply discussing the relatively easy acquisition of chemical weapons. Both are the same since they are both discussed using the same term.
The forged documents claiming an Iraqi purchase of yellow cake from Niger
Next they got help from the Italians. The Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconni, was an extremely close ally to George Bush. According to the new book “The Italian Letter”, the Italian Military Intelligence Service (SISMI) forged or acquired a set of fake documents which purported to prove that Iraq was attempting to purchase 500 metric tons of "Yellowcake", a form of Uranium ore.
The authors of "The Italian Letter" suggest that the forgers were probably senior executives in SISMI, and they point out that the NeoCon Michael Ledeen has close ties to both Italian Intelligence personnel and to Vice President Dick Cheney. A direct connection between Dick Cheney and the forged of the Niger documents cannot as yet be established, but the opportunity and motivation are both there. (See my earlier article Proof that lies led to our invasion of Iraq for more details.)
The use of doctored and otherwise bad Intelligence to make the case
The forged Niger documents were rejected as unreliable and unrealistic by the Italian reporter they were first given to (based in part on her visit to Niger to investigate), and also by the CIA station chief in Rome. When later the British Intelligence included them in Intelligence reports, the American CIA advised the British Intelligence not to use them. Both the CIA and the State Department's (DoS) Office of Intelligence and Research (INR) investigated the Niger documents. The INR had the U.S. Ambassador to Niger, Barbro Owens-Kirkpatrick, investigate the assertions in the Niger documents while the CIA sent Valerie Plame's husband, Joe Wilson, to contact both French and Nigerien officials he had known when he had previously been stationed in Niger.
The result of both American investigations (separately) and that of the Milan reporter Elisabetta Burba was to conclude that Niger could not have diverted 500 metric tons of of yellow cake from the French owners of the existing mines, could not have expanded production, and did not have adequate infrastructure to ship that quantity if the first two problems could have been solved. In addition, the DoS was aware that Iraq still had over 500 metric tons of yellow cake in Iraq, but that it was under UN seal and had been constantly watched. Iraq didn't need the Uranium. All they had to do was break the UN seals and use it.
But when the forged documents got to Douglass Feith's Office of Special Plans in the Pentagon, they were uncritically stove-piped directly to Dick Cheney's office. They were the basis of the public relations blitz that had a number of top White House officials saying in unison "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud." That PR blitz was coordinated by the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) established by the President's Chief of Staff Andrew Card, under the guidance of Karl Rove, and including "Scooter" Libby, then Chief of Staff to Dick Cheney (See WHIG Personnel.) WHIG had been created to intensify the selling of the Iraq war in the wake of the release of the Downing Street Memo out of Great Britian. The Downing Street Memo had to be submerged, since it clearly stated that the Bush administration had planned on attacking Iraq well before any evidence that Iraw was a threat to America had been surfaced (or created.)
The forged documents were also the basis of the so-called "16 words" inserted in Bush's State of the Union speech given to Congress on January 28, 2003. The British based their Intelligence statements on the same forged documents, claiming they had additional data to support them. The so-called additional data is now known not to exist.
Was this incompetence in which Cheney and the White House simply chose not to believe one set of Intelligence results over another, or was it a lie? In my opinion, too many people knew both sides of the story and knew how the so-called Intelligence using the forged documents was cooked for it to be incompetence. The extreme secrecy of this White House in which no top aide is being allowed to be questioned by Congress, in which about 50 top aides have been using Republican National Committee email accounts which are more easily destroyed that government ones are, and in which documents are not turned over even under subpoena is intended to prevent proof of the lies from being established. People smart enough to protect their information in so many manners are simply not so incompetent as to buy false Intelligence.
The treasonous exposure of a covert CIA officer
This brings America to the Valerie Wilson Affair. Joe Wilson went to Niger, investigated, and he knew that the "16 words" were false. They were intended to frighten America into an unnecessary war. So in the Spring of 2003 he began to write OpEds that showed the "16 words" were a lie told by the President. But Dick Cheney had to have that lie believed. So Cheney and Libby set out to discredit Joe Wilson by exposing his wife's employment as a CIA officer. The Special Prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, brought Scooter Libby to trial for lying to the FBI, Lying to the Grand Jury, and for Obstruction of Justice. The Obstruction of Justice was based on the fact that because of Scooter's lies, the necessary elements of proof that Dick Cheney had in fact exposed the identity of a covert CIA agent in violation of the law could not be proven. It was this crime by Dick Cheney which Patrick Fitzgerals referred to as "the Shadow over the Vice President in his summary of his case against Scooter Libby.
There is no doubt at all that what Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby, and Karl Rove did in exposing the CIA status of Valerie Plame was, in fact, treason against the United States. It was clearly providing aid and comfort to the enemies of the Unites States of America just as teh actions a quarter of a century ago by the turncoat CIA agent Philip Agee did when he published the names and stations of serving CIA officers, resulting inthe murder of at least one officer in Greece.
This brings us to the most recent public revelation about the Valerie Plame case. At the beginning of this essay I stated that a criminal organization has both people who commit crimes to further the goals of the criminal group, and they also have large numbers of other people (many of whom appear honest and non-criminal) whose job is to protect the core criminals.
Lies told by right-wing pundits to support those of the White House
Numerous right-wing pundits have spent a great deal of time and ink (or pixels) stating that Scooter Libby should not have been tried, let alone convicted, for outing the covert CIA officer Valerie Plame. Glenn Greenwald at Salon has an excellent take-down of many (and I really mean "many") right wing pundits who have been lying and saying that Valerie Plame was not covert. Go read it, and look at the names and the quotes. The various people Glenn quotes all have one message, presented without doubt or qualification. The message has been presented with NO FACTS TO SUPPORT IT. They all said, repeatedly, that Valerie Plame was NOT COVERT.
Had that been true, the CIA would not have sent the request to the Department of Justice to investigate Plame's exposure, Ashcroft would not have recused himself, Fitzgerald would not have been appointed Special Prosecutor, and none of the various judges would have even let the investigation go to Grand Juries. There has been no doubt all along by anyone with direct knowledge of the classified information that Valerie Plame was covert within the meaning of the law. A crime was clearly committed. But the Republicans have been lying to protect their criminals.
Now that Patrick Fitzgerald has provided to an unclassified sentencing memorandum to Judge Wells who is considering Libby's sentence for the crimes for which he has been convicted, the many Republican conservative defenders of criminals and traitors must change messages. But they will change, and move on to a new lie because the central Republican criminals must have the chorus of defensive criminals to protect them.
The continued Republican criminal activity
Their war isn't going well, but that just makes it more important for the criminal Republican Party to protect the central criminals such as Rove, Bush, Cheney and Libby. The central criminals commit the key crimes, and the Republican chorus obstructs justice to protect the central criminals.
That makes the Republican Party a criminal organization. Simply supporting the Republican leaders is now a criminal activity, since all the leaders are criminals and the rest are obstructing justice.
[*]This relationship can be inferred through the long-term relationship between the bin Laden family and the Bush family tbrough mutual investments such as those in the Carlyle Group, through the secret evacuation of members of the bin Laden family by plane when all other air travel was shut down in the days after 9/11, through the apparently planned escape of Osama bin Laden from Tora Bora when his presence there was well known in Intelligence and top military circles (for which Gen. Tommy Franks was given the Medal of Freedom,) and through the indifference to catching him after that displayed by the Bush administration. More specific evidence is unavailable primarily because of what appears to be a cover up by top government officials similar to the cover up and obstruction of justice in the White House orchestrated by Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby in the treasonous exposure of Valerie Wilson as an agent of the CIA.
[**]It is possible that 9/11 was pure coincidence. Osama bin Laden may have just been looking for the next way to attack the U.S. If so, it succeeded in a manner that was probably quite beyond anything even Osama and his lieutenants expected. There is also the possibility that the Bush administration intentionally let its guard down and hoped that there would be a direct terrorist attack on America, since this would allow Bush, Cheney and the NeoCons to justify the attack on Iraq. Those two possibilities are not mutually exclusive. Intentionally or because of incompetence, it is clear that the Bush administration DID let America's guard down so that 9/11 could occur.
A third possibility is that there could have been back-channel communications between the Bush administration and the more radical elements of the bin Laden family who were in contact with Osama to let him know that there was a window of opportunity for an attack on America. As unlikely as that appears at first glance, the recent actions of Vice President Dick Cheney to try to get the Iranians to attack an American target such as a warship in the Persian Gulf to justify an American attack on Iran demonstrates that there was a much greater possibility of the third option that reasonable Americans are likely to accept. Cheney wanted the war in Iraq and was willing to do anything to start it. Now he wants an attack on Iran desperately, especially since he has only 20 months remaining to bring that dream of his to fruition. Cheney is both highly consistent and very much a believer in American Empire brought about by the American military.
[***] This was a lot easier while the Republicans were in charge of the Congress. A war - any war - was just what they needed to allow them to run for reelection on the traditional extreme security issue. Otherwise the majority of American voters outside the South prefer Democratic Party issues. It worked for them in both 2002 and 2004.