International Media Make 'Watergate' Comparison

The indictment of Vice President Dick Cheney's top aide, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, has some international online commentators envisioning a Watergate-style scandal swamping the Bush White House.

"Bush faces his Watergate," says the Independent. The London daily says the issues raised by the the leaking of the identity of Valerie Plame, an undercover CIA agent, "are far more significant than those involved in the 'second-rate burglary' of the Democratic National Committee's offices in Washington's Watergate complex in the 1970s. They go to the heart of why America, and its faithful ally, Britain, went to war in Iraq."

"The White House has lost one key man but the whole chain of command may be engulfed by a scandal slowly revealing the lies that led to war," said the London daily, which opposed the war.

The commentary, confined mostly to English-speaking countries so far, generally argues that Cheney is especially threatened. The view of former White House speechwriter David Frum, writing in London's conservative Daily Telegraph, that "the broader administration has been exonerated of intentional wrongdoing," is a distinctly minority point of view.

"Just how far up the White House food chain does this affair go?" ask the editors of the Sunday Herald in Glasgow, Scotland. The paper's political editor, James Cusick, sees "chinks in the neocon armor."

As the special counsel's probe "creeps closer to the Oval Office, with his insistence that 'all citizens are bound by the law,'" Cusick writes, "some may sense a chill wind that hasn't blown through Washington since [President Richard] Nixon promised the public that there would be no whitewash at the White House."

South Africa's Independent Online predicts the indictment "will reopen the debate over whether the administration manipulated intelligence to launch the Iraq invasion in 2003."

John O'Sullivan, writing for the pro-war Australian newspaper, says there is less to Cheney's reputed involvement than meets the eye.

He says "most Americans would probably conclude that the scandal was no more than a blend of strategic disagreement and political hardball and that it was foolish of Libby to lie than to admit as much. A trial may thus be less likely to hurt the administration than its critics hope."

It is "hard to believe Cheney did not know" of Libby's false statements to the grand jury, says Michael Gawenda, Washington correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald.

"If Libby lied about how he discovered Plame's identity -- he claims he heard it from journalists and had forgotten Cheney had told him -- why would he tell such clumsy fibs? The only rational explanation is he was protecting his boss.

"When the war in Iraq is increasing unpopular, and with more than 2,000 Americans dead and more than 15,000 wounded, the question of how Cheney's office used intelligence to justify the war will inevitably be part of the Libby trial," Gawenda concludes.

By Jefferson Morley |  October 30, 2005; 12:31 PM ET  | Category:  Europe
Previous: The Niger Papers: Obstacles to Coverage | Next: Leak Case: Leading Spanish Daily Weighs In

Comments

Please email us to report offensive comments.



Why was the Washington Post's own associate editor Robert Kaiser expressing this particular opinion last week?
***

Rochester, Minn.: It's highly tempting to draw parallels with the Nixon administration. It "feels" like we're seeing hints of a cover-up in progress but no "smoking gun" as yet. Could you comment on this temptation?

Robert G. Kaiser: Resist it!

Posted by: Linda Loomis | October 30, 2005 02:35 PM

The main question is not, if or why, Mr. Libby lied about his responsability in the leak, the question is that his lie was intended to cover up a far larger one, being that the whole administration headed by Mr. Bush has conciously lied to the World about the reasons for an undefendable war.
And even worse, they found willing accomplices in the Democrats and both the British and the Italian goverments.Among a host of others.
Should I mention the goverments, firms, and individuals indicted in the UN probe of the scheme of "Oil for food" ?
The whole lot are accountable for the thousends of dead and injured, for the destruction and the theft,as for the wanton demise of a foreign nation.
If institutions as the International Criminal Court, and the UN- which by the way so much Mr. Bush disregards- worked as they should, they would all,at some point be sharing the bench with Mr.Karadzik and the Rwandans.
Though hopes are hard to turn into realities I harbour the one that the US people will find the moral resources to punish the guilty,and apologize.
Most of the rest of the world is expecting it, as we either havenĀ“t the power to force them, nor to speak with God as a personal relation.

Posted by: Eduardo Arias | October 30, 2005 03:08 PM

why would he tell such clumsy fibs?

Because in the words of Bush, the media "do a very good job of protecting the leakers." That's what they all counted on.

Posted by: | October 30, 2005 05:07 PM

Eduardo:
"...being that the whole administration headed by Mr. Bush has conciously lied to the World about the reasons for an undefendable war."

That's all nonsense. There's no indication President Bush lied.

And the war to depose brutal dictator Saddam Hussein and bring democracy to Iraq is entirely defensible.

Posted by: Wallace | October 30, 2005 07:05 PM

Wallace

Bush lied when he told The American people and the people of the world that war with Iraq was his "last resort" and that he'd exhausted all other avenues. The plan for attacking Iraq goes back to the 90's and the PNAC's wish to invade Iraq.

Once he enlisted most of the members of PNAC into his administration, the decision had already been made to go into Iraq.

Posted by: Za | October 30, 2005 08:26 PM

One begins to see how the absence of an independent counsel is taking its toll in the current Plamegate investigation. Fitzgerald is a decent guy but his hands are tied. He is a stickler for the rule of law and deserves our admiration.

However, there is a certain nostalgia for Kenneth Star, the independent counsel, whose investigation branched out in all directions and drew hard conclusions with grave political implications, and the Democrats were rightly up in arms with cries of "conspiracy theory." Now THAT is missing in the current investigation due to no fault of Fitzgerald.

To gloat over the fact that Karl Rove was not indicted or Cheney and Bush escaped the guillotine is to forget the obvious: Libby is but a small link in the "chain" of command that powers this administration; not to be slammed with "criminal" intent/action in no way exonerates this administration from "ethical" misconduct.

Posted by: Lea | October 30, 2005 08:28 PM

Even though this story may just be the tip of the iceberg,your reader's will get a better understanding of what our own Gov't is doing to us if they go to the following website. http://www.thewhistleblower.com That's why I wish that I were U.S. President. For those who wish to contact me e-mail me at talkativejd@earthlink.net

Posted by: Jason Wallace | October 30, 2005 09:37 PM

Hopefully now the Australian people will wake up and realise that we too were led into this immoral and unjust war with lies and un-truths. We (most of the Australian people) overwhelmingly backed our PM in this bloodshed. And they wonder why Aussies were targeted in Bali? Don't get me wrong, I feel bad for ALL innocent people killed, but c'mon, did Howard actually think we were making the world safer and more peaceful? Try again.

P.S. I wouldn't exactly call The Australian a "Pro-War" paper.

Posted by: Miles Ruhl | October 31, 2005 02:23 AM

This has been making headlines in the UK, though I doubt it'll make any difference to Tony Blair as the debate on the war in Iraq never really stopped here. Though his cabinet seems to be briefing the press against him on some contentious matters which they've not done before. His control seems to be slowly ebbing away which it has done since he announced he wouldn't fight another election as party leader.

Some are comparing this case to Watergate, but the general consensus on the BBC and Sky News is that while it serious and picks at an open wound for America it isn't as bad as what Nixon or Clinton faced. It seems highly unlikely it'll touch your president directly and even getting the Vice President in serious trouble is going to be difficult.

The general point made here in the UK seems to be that it's caught up with Bush at a time he is at his weakest. Even if his aides eventually aren't convicted in the end this is going to dog the president for most of the remainder of his term.

Another quote relished in the press here is the one Bush made after his re-election when he said he had plenty of political capital to spend. I think he's just got his latest bank statement and found himself seriously in the red.

Posted by: David Patrick, UK | October 31, 2005 04:18 AM

ScooterGate? I think so. No one knew prior to the events, later labelled as Watergate, that a government will be brought down. Yet, those with presumable knowledge this time are much higher in the hierarchy than those in the Nixon administration. In addition the newsworthiness of these revelations have much to say to the international community. It says something about the practices advocated by the administration. www.ScooterGate.com could be just the platform to be had. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Posted by: Franz Kafka | October 31, 2005 07:21 AM

"And the war to depose brutal dictator Saddam Hussein and bring democracy to Iraq is entirely defensible."

This was not the case presented to the American people for the war.
Th case the administration made was that Iraq "possesed WMD" and was collaborating with terrorists, which posed an immediate threat to the US.

Both assertions turned out to be false. It is likely that the administration knew the assertions were false, but also knew that the majority of Americans would not approve of a war whose sole purpose was overthrowing a dictator and engaging in a nation building exercise.

It is clear from the history of the Neocons in the administration that they sincerely believed in overthrowing saddam-this goes back to at least 1991.

However, last I checked the President did not have the authority to make war willy-nilly, he needs congerssional approval. lying to congress and the American people, regardless of how convinced you are that your postion is right and everyone alse is wrong, Undermines the democratic process and everything that America stands for.

Posted by: shaggy | October 31, 2005 08:52 AM

To continue my last thought:

The Administration clearly thought they could lie their way into war, and it wouldn't really matter because they would be vindicated by outcome (A democratic Iraq).

Even if things turned out as they were so sure they would (which is not looking like the case) it is still wrong to take the country to war under false pretenses.
You state ".. the war to depose brutal dictator Saddam Hussein and bring democracy to Iraq is entirely defensible"

This may be the case, but it is an argument to be made BEFORE the war, and one for the majority of americans to agree on prior to invasion.

Posted by: shaggy | October 31, 2005 09:07 AM

Sorry shaggy, that's hogwash. The Iraq war resolution listed 23 reasons for invading Iraq, not just WMD.

Iraq did collaborate with terrorists. Abu Nidal was in Iraq prior to the invasion. Zarqawi too. Several of the 1993 WTC bombers too.

Iraq was considered a threat throughout the 1990s; Bill Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act in 1998. Democrats only made it a partisan issue, putting partisanship above country, after Clinton left office. The lies about Iraq are coming from the left.

Posted by: Wallace | October 31, 2005 10:15 AM

I'm entirely with shaggy on this one -- if you want to go after brutal dictators, why stop with Hussein? Burma is bulging with them, but, gee, does that country have enough oil to satisfy Halliburton?

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | October 31, 2005 10:15 AM

Wallace, you know perfectly well that if Bush had told the American people that Iraq needed to be 'liberated from a brutal dictator', they would have responded 'let the Iraqis do it then.'

Some might also have reminded him that that sort of political crusade is a direct breach of his 2000 campaign promise that "we don't do nation-building". Having watched the administration's feeble efforts at Iraqi reconstruction, I have to agree, they don't do nation-building. But they did try,despite their promise not to.

The war was overwhelmingly sold on the WMD threat, because that was the only justification the public would buy. And the focus was even more on WMD in Washington's efforts to persuade other countries to back war.

Besides, your contention that Iraq was a hub of terrorism before the war is just silly. You say that "Abu Nidal was in Iraq prior to the invasion". You conveniently forget to mention that he was killed by Saddam's secret police long before the US attack. That's exactly the kind of scaremongering half-truth we're all complaining about.

If you do it yourself, I'm not surprised you don't mind it from the government.

Posted by: Jeb | October 31, 2005 10:54 AM

I'm in complete agreement with shaggy. This WH and its current group of cronies were planning an invasion of Iraq MANY YEARS before they arrived in Washington. The fact that they constructed false intelligence to support this heinous act was clearly presented in the Downing Street memo when it became public sometime ago. My question is why has it taken a scandal on the order of "Scooter-gate" for all of this to begin grabbing the attention of the American media? This travesty should have been front-page news long ago and REMAINED so until the full scope of the scam had been fleshed out. Maybe now that the Bushies have been unmasked for the lying, greedy, conniving BASTARDS that they are, we will get to the heart of this matter and both the President and Vice President will be impeached and jailed.

Posted by: GregoryJ | October 31, 2005 11:30 AM

Wallace is actually Karl Rove with too much time on his hands or one of the WH minions. idiots one and all

Posted by: YR | October 31, 2005 02:09 PM

The entire Republican Party apparatus needs to be investigated. With its inherent culture of corruption permeating at virtually every level, the Republican Party should be investigated in such a manner that the Mafia or other racketeering criminal organizations are investigated. Just indicting the principals aren't enough; you also need to prevent the organization itself from perpetuating its corruptive nature. The best solution would be to ban financial transactions, effectively ending the party's corruptive and criminal influence upon the American public and world citizenry.

Until it is banned, the republican party is, has been, and always will be, America's Ultimate Hate Crime Against Humanity.

Posted by: Mo Jekearthe | November 1, 2005 09:04 AM

The US is the new Roman Empire. Corruption proceeds apace in the seat of the Empire. The Empire has influence with many governments and some perceive an advantage in going along with the desires of the Emperor (Bush who has no clothes).

The corrupting influences are from within the Empire and without. Everyone wants to buy a piece of the governance of the Empire. The Republicans are all about money and so their corruption, once reaching power, has proceeded apace.

Cheney is a cynic who has been fairly correct as to knowing how much the Administration can lie and deceive. The Iraq war has been his tool to funnel money to various allies like Haliburton.

These people never meant to save Iraq, they don't have the brains or desire to do so. They are simply creating enough chaos and profiting heavily from doing so. They are not capable of fixing the issues in Iraq. Nor do these chicken hawks have any experience in doing anything but messing things up.

Posted by: Cearbhallain | November 12, 2005 01:24 PM

I find "the lies about Iraq are coming from the left" argument quite amusing. I attribute this ignorant stance as a deliberate attempt to deflect responsibility. Just another one of the EMPTY charges made by a deceptive and treasonous group of power-hungry thug.
Same old song, different day...

BTW- Stripping over 90 Senators of their security clearances indicates that BUSH DID LIE!!!! It's as simple as that. No security clearance- no intel!

Who gave the rat bastard authority to use White Phosphorous on innocent civilians? No one has the right to murder in my name. No one has the right to murder in OUR name.

I consider anyone who continues to support these evil, maniacal monsters to be treasonous traitors. Actions have consequences.

Peace.

Posted by: fooj | November 12, 2005 03:35 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 

© 2006 The Washington Post Company