Tuesday, August 12, 2008

All the king's horses

When will federal judges finally stop and reverse the Bush administration's assault on the Constitution? The oft-asked question was back in the news Tuesday after a federal appeals court in Washington refused to reinstate a lawsuit by a former spy who sued Vice President Dick Cheney and former Bush administration officials for revealing her identity to the public in 2003. Valerie Plame's lawsuit had sought damages for her and her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, contending that the administration intentionally ruined her career in retaliation for Wilson's public criticism of the Iraq war, according to the Reuters international news service. Her allegations prompted a criminal investigation which led to the conviction of Cheney's top aide, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, for perjury and obstruction of justice. President George W. Bush commuted Libby's prison sentence last year. But Plame's charges are believable, particularly now that the extent of the Bush administration's misconduct in making the case for the invasion of Iraq is becoming clearer. With Congress abdicating its duty to stop the president, the people of the United States are forced to rely on the courts to intervene. But the courts have not been up to the task, including the U.S. Supreme Court's refusal to order a recount of the Florida votes in the 2000 election. To its credit, the Supreme Court has forced the administration to adhere somewhat to the Constitution in its imprisonment of suspects at Guantanamo Bay. But in Plame's lawsuit, the appellate court missed an opportunity to mandate a judicial inquiry. Exposing the identify of a CIA agent is a felony, and it appears likely that the decision to out Plame was made at the highest levels of the administration. It would not be surprising to find out that Cheney and, perhaps, Bush himself was involved. Plame's attorney said an appeal was likely, Reuters said.

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