Wednesday, March 21, 2007

It ain’t the crime

Is it just me, or is anyone else baffled by the utter lack of historical awareness now being exhibited by the cabal in power and the kids that cover them?

Maybe I’m just showing my age, but I know I’m not as old as almost every one of the folks we would call senior White House staff; nor am I as “experienced” as many of the White House press corps. So, though it is still “early days,” as our Brit brethren would say, I am a little struck by the lack of analogies being drawn between the current “-gate” and the original.

Markos, a younger man than I, had the very same thought that I did the second I read about a “document gap” in the files that Justice sent to the House Judiciary Committee—a gap from mid-November to early December in the e-mails and memos concerning the purging and replacing of US attorneys. I’ll put it this way: When does three weeks seem like 18 1/2 minutes?

Back in the summer of 1973, when the special prosecutor (that would be Leon Jaworski, Archibald Cox having been fired during the Saturday Night Massacre), finally gained access to secret tapes that Nixon had made of conversations in the Oval Office, there was a conspicuous gap in the recording—an 18 1/2 minute portion of what might likely have been important evidence had been erased.

Back then, Nixon’s secretary, Rose Mary Woods, claimed to have accidentally erased the audiotape. Now, however, we are talking about electronic files—e-mails and documents generated on computers and almost certainly archived (almost certainly with backup archives). It would take an army of extremely brain-dead Rose Mary Woods’s to make all of that go away.

It looks like arrogance more than idiocy (are they mutually exclusive?), but whatever the reason, I have to ask, why invite the scrutiny? I tend to believe, based on the lack of tenacity exhibited by the contemporary establishment media and the number of infinitely more telegenic outrages currently extant, that if the White House had offered up a cursory set of documents with the resignation of Attorney General Gonzales a couple of weeks back, this whole scandal—as scandalous as it is—would have died a relatively quiet death.

But now, with the stonewalling and the stubbornness, with the missing documents (not just from that three week period, but also absent are any of the internal, White House staff to White House staff communications) and the invocations of “executive privilege” (a phrase mighty reminiscent of the Nixon years all by itself), it seems increasingly clear even to the mere transcribers in the media that these guys (and gals) in the Bush Administration have something to hide.

The crime—crimes, really—are plenty bad enough, but they might have been a little complicated to explain (“inside the beltway” stuff, don’t you know). The cover-up however, is as plain as the pre-cancerous nose on Bush’s smirking face.

Like we all learned to say 34 years ago. “It ain’t the crime, it’s the cover-up.”

(cross-posted from guy2k)


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