In our history there have been political assassinations, which can be a kind of coup, but there has never been anything like a classic coup d’etat. No doubt, there was some discussion during FDR’s first term. And the drafting of Eisenhower over Taft represented a coup of sorts. JFK’s election was famously corrupt, and his assassination still arouses suspicions of a domestic conspiracy. Nixon sabotaged the Paris peace talks, undermining Humphrey’s position. And many people think that Nixon was taken down by an inside cabal. Reagan probably made a deal with the Ayotollah to undermine Carter’s position, and there is little question that Linda Tripp entered into a conspiracy to expose the Lewisnsky affair in an attempt to end Bill Clinton’s Presidency.

Looking back, our elections and our politics have been a lot dirtier than most of us are willing to admit. Kingmakers, dirty tricks, ballot stuffing, voter suppression, nefarious plots, and, perhaps, even an assassination have all played a role in the selection of our Presidential leaders.

Maybe that is why we have suffered such a long string of terrible presidents. But the question before us now is, is there a concerted effort underway to bring down the Bush presidency?

Some people think so.

In a November 3 column in the Washington Post, Jim Hoagland confirmed that the Joseph Wilson affair was a CIA plot against President Bush. Writing his column in the form of a letter to the President, Hoagland wrote that “The hidden management of the criminal justice process and the news media practiced by spooks in Wilson-Rove-Libbygate is nothing short of brilliant. So you were right to fear the agency.”

Think about that statement to the President—”you were right to fear the agency.”

Here we have a columnist for a major paper saying that the CIA has been acting independently of the elected President of the U.S., and that Bush had reason to fear it. He said the CIA had engaged in “hidden management of the criminal justice system and the news media.” In effect, he is saying that the CIA is pulling the strings behind the scenes, and that reporters following the Wilson/Plame storyline are CIA puppets. He went on to say that the CIA also “triggered the investigation” into the CIA leak about Valerie Wilson by itself leaking. That is, the CIA leaked to the press the fact that it had requested an investigation.

Hoagland also declared, “One lesson available in this story is that amateurs are no match for the CIA in disinformation campaigns. The spies are far better at operating in the shadows than you politicians will ever be. They have a license to dissemble.”

Hoagland’s column was an eye-opener. Here was a major columnist acknowledging a CIA covert operation against Bush using lies and disinformation…

In a column in the Wall Street Journal, appearing on the same day, Victoria Toensing said the Wilson affair was so sordid that the Congress had a duty to investigate. Toensing is a former chief counsel for the Senate Intelligence Committee and former deputy assistant attorney general in the Reagan administration.

Analyzing the Wilson affair and the CIA role in sparking the investigation, Toensing said that “The CIA conduct in this matter is either a brilliant covert action against the White House or inept intelligence tradecraft.” The latter was a reference to the fact that Valerie Wilson could not possibly have been a true undercover CIA operative, and if it was the CIA position that she was, then the agency’s methods for concealing its agents are laughable or incompetent.

Of course, what Hoagland ignores is that there is a similar and separate possibility. Perhaps an element of the CIA, or even the broader intelligence community, is engaged in an operation to expose the truth. And maybe the truth is so damaging that its revelation would amount to a coup by leading directly to impeachment proceedings. This is what appears to have happened in Watergate. And we could be seeing a repeat performance.

It is certainly true that we have seen a lot of damaging leaks coming out of Downing Street. We have seen Joseph Wilson come forward, with a lot of behind the scenes Niger forgery leaks working in concert. Someone leaked about the August 6th 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing. There were damaging leaks during the John Bolton nomination. Now we have the NSA leaks. There are a lot of whistle blowers coming from a lot of different sources and departments. And it all has had a cumulative effect.

Today, the New York Times editorial staff writes about Dick Cheney’s abuse of power.

George W. Bush has quipped several times during his political career that it would be so much easier to govern in a dictatorship. Apparently he never told his vice president that this was a joke.

Virtually from the time he chose himself to be Mr. Bush’s running mate in 2000, Dick Cheney has spearheaded an extraordinary expansion of the powers of the presidency – from writing energy policy behind closed doors with oil executives to abrogating longstanding treaties and using the 9/11 attacks as a pretext to invade Iraq, scrap the Geneva Conventions and spy on American citizens.

It was a chance Mr. Cheney seems to have been dreaming about for decades. Most Americans looked at wrenching events like the Vietnam War, the Watergate scandal and the Iran-contra debacle and worried that the presidency had become too powerful, secretive and dismissive. Mr. Cheney looked at the same events and fretted that the presidency was not powerful enough, and too vulnerable to inspection and calls for accountability.

The Editorial Board used extraordinarily strong language. Accusing this administration of, among other things:

trying to undermine the institutional and legal structure of multilateral foreign policy

champion(ing) the abrogation of the Antiballistic Missile Treaty with Moscow in order to build an antimissile shield that doesn’t work but makes military contactors rich

gather(ing) (their) energy industry cronies at secret meetings in Washington to rewrite energy policy to their specifications

(after 9/11) agitating for an attack on Iraq immediately, pushing the intelligence community to come up with evidence about a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda that never existed

writing the legal briefs justifying the abuse and torture of prisoners, the idea that the president can designate people to be “unlawful enemy combatants” and detain them indefinitely, and a secret program allowing the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on American citizens without warrants


pack(ing) the judiciary with like-minded ideologues

Let us compare these charges with the the charges Thomas Jefferson leveled at King George III:

He has refuted his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good. [among these, our treaties, the fourth amendment, and statutes against warrantless domestic surveillence]

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers. [going around the FISA court]

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries. [packing the court with ideologues]

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power. [engaging in torture, asserting extraordinary wartime powers]

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States: [a few bad apples]

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury: [Jose Padilla]

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences: [extraordinary rendition]

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments: [treaty violations, wartime powers]

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever. [once again, assertions of immunity from Congressional statute]

If there is a concerted effort to bring down this administration, that effort is in the best traditions of the founding fathers.

“None of your civil liberties matter much after you’re dead,” -Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas)

“Give me liberty or give me death.”- Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.)


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