The Hightower Report

Too many leaks or too much secrecy?; and old friends


TOO MANY LEAKS OR TOO MUCH SECRECY?

Poor ol' Porter Goss. He's our nation's chief spook, but he's got no sense of timing.

Goss, head of the CIA, published a piece on February 10 expressing outrage that Bush administration secrets were being leaked to the media by anonymous sources. In particular, he was tapping the fact that George W.'s secret and illegal program of spying on the phones of U.S. citizens had been made public. Leaking such classified information, wailed Porter, "can tip the terrorists" to technologies and tactics the CIA uses. He implied that leakers are low-life traitors.

Unfortunately for Goss, his indignant screed lacked much punch, because on that same day a story ran showing that one of the chief leakers of secret intelligence has been – Guess who? – the Bushites! It seems that Scooter Libby, the former top staffer to Dick Cheney, admitted to a grand jury that he had leaked secret information to reporters in 2003 in a political effort to show that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. That's not all – Libby testified that he was "authorized" to reveal the official secrets by his "superiors."

Hmmmm. Only three people in the White House could be considered Libby's superiors: Cheney, Karl Rove, and George himself! So, Porter, which of these are you calling a traitor? And, will you be calling them to account?

The problem for our democracy is not that there are too many "unauthorized" leaks, but that the Bushites are hiding too much from We the People. For example, who in the White House leaked Valerie Plame's name? How many times did Ken Lay and Jack Abramoff visit Bush's White House? Who was on Cheney's secret energy task force? Why not release the documents on White House preparedness for 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina? How about coming clean on torture and on the global network of secret prisons? What's up with all the no-bid contracts with Halliburton? And the list goes on ... and on ... and ...


OLD FRIENDS

They say that nobody loves you when you are down and out – but this is ridiculous.

Poor Jack Abramoff. Only months ago, this supersleaze lobbyist was the darling of top Republican politicos, delivering bundles of campaign cash to them, including some $200,000 to George W.'s '04 election run. Abramoff took lawmakers on all-expense-paid jaunts to exotic locales, including squiring Tom DeLay and his entourage to golf outings in Scotland and the Northern Mariana Islands. Jack even had his own posh restaurant on Capitol Hill, where he routinely picked up tabs and held fundraisers for the GOP's power elite.

What a guy! But that was yesterday. Today, Republican leaders say, "Jack who?" In January, Abramoff pleaded guilty to bribery and corruption charges and he's now singing like a lark to prosecutors, naming politicos involved in his scandals. No Republican loves Jack now.

George W., for example, says curtly, "I don't know him." Wait a minute, retorts Abramoff – I met with Bush many times, we even talked about family matters together. I was invited to the ranch to visit with him. I was one of his "pioneer" fundraisers. He doesn't know me? Please.

An even deeper cut comes from Tom DeLay, who now coldly asserts, "Jack Abramoff and I were not close, personal friends. I met with him only occasionally." Say what?, Jack explodes. Tom, our families vacationed together! I've been the go-to guy to sack up cash for your political gambits! And have you forgotten the Northern Marianas, where you declared to a business gathering that I am one of your "closest and dearest friends"?

Yes, Jack, Tom has forgotten you. George, too. It was OK that you were a sleazebag when you could help them, but now you can't, so they've dumped you, old pal. You're just ol' whatshisname. You see, the difference between thieves and politicians is that there's honor among thieves.

For more information on Jim Hightower's work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown – visit www.jimhightower.com. You can hear his radio commentaries on KOOP Radio, 91.7FM, weekdays at 10:58am and 12:58pm.

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