I was watching last week's Bill Maher again and something really hit home for me.
Back during the 1950s, during the infamous Red Scare, distinguished experts in all branches of the government and many areas of the media were called on the carpet for their alleged Communist ties and for suspicion of espionage and even treason related to those Communist ties. Joe McCarthy, a minor senator from Wisconsin whose career was entirely undistinguished before the Red Scare, rode this tide of suspicion to fame and acclaim before it finally discredited him and in many ways was responsible for much of it. There were, it should be noted, real Communist spies during this period and during the immediate post-war period. The problem is that very few of those accused by McCarthy were those real spies.
The point is this: during the Red Scare, every emphasis was put on defense and national security. Most notably, this period led to the rapid expansion of the CIA under Dwight Eisenhower and CIA director Allen Dulles. This was considered essential for national security, an argument still considered debatable in many quarters and which I could argue for or against (or even perhaps write both sides of the argument) at length in another post.
Today, in the form of the Global War On Terror of the Bush administration, we experience our own version of the Red Scare. Where, during the 50s, liberal politicians and those opposed to the growth of the military industrial complex (which Eisenhower himself warned our nation about in his last presidential speech) were labeled 'soft on Communism' or even outright Communism themselves they are now labeled as 'soft on terrorism' or 'unpatriotic' when they oppose the war in Iraq or the reckless foreign policy of the Bush administration.
That said, the most serious 'treason' of the GWOT has been committed by the Bush administration.
We're talking about the Republican party. The people who, under Reagan, put the CIA back in business. The people who, under George W. Bush, have made it more powerful than it's been since the days of Allen Dulles. The tough guys, the patriots, who preach national security and 'let's go get 'em' with righteous fervor.
Joseph and Valerie Plame Wilson were on Bill Maher on 11/2. Rather than appearing via satellite feed or via prerecorded interview, they appeared live on the stage before the panel. The purpose was to plug Valerie Plame Wilson's new book, but of course much comment was made on her outing as a CIA officer by key members of the Bush administration. These are the people who score their big points selling us that they will make us safe, but they deliberately and maliciously blew the cover of a CIA officer whose job was to investigate Ira's nuclear program. The very nuclear program they were supposedly so dead centered on quashing. Why? Because her husband had investigated alleged purchases of uranium in Niger by the Iraqis and came back saying said transactions did not appear to be happening or to have happened, that the reports were false. Thus unfolded the drama.
I'm not going to recount all of that drama here. It's gone round and round again in the media and on the talking head shows. What I'm going to talk about is how small a deal this appears to be to everyone.
Despite being a registered Democrat, I don't have a lot of respect for the Democratic party. They veer repeatedly to the center, run away from their own principles in every presidential election, and cave in to Republicans every time the GOP raises its voice. Worse than that, however, is their unwillingness to call the administration on its worst excesses. Criminal mismanagement of the crisis in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina has been swept under the rug. The fact that the war in Iraq appears to be a combination of Bush's personal grudge against the country on his father's behalf, the desire of the neoconservative branch of the GOP to test their theory that a country like Iraq could be remade in the image of the US, and the desire of the 'pro-business' faction of the same party to subsidize 'security contractors' that are essentially mercernaries. The Plame Wilson outing.
The Plame Wilson outing strikes me the hardest because it is exactly the sort of thing that would have Republicans screaming if a Democratic administration had done it. It is the sort of thing that would have all Americans outraged if officials of any presidential administration of either party had sat around the table with a Russian or Chinese or even French journalist and sold out a covert CIA officer. Yet the Democratic party has largely ignored the issue, save for a brief flare up by the usual anti-war activists when the incident first occurred. It is a serious argument for a massive criminal investigation of the Bush administration, and yet the Democratic Congress has ignored it since being elected. Despite the fact that some of these congressmen and congresswomen campaigned on promises to impeach Bush. 'Cooler heads' have prevailed in the interest of 'achieving Democratic goals working with the President.' As if this president has any interest in helping this Congress achieve Democratic goals.
None dare call it treason, indeed.
The question is, who are the worst traitors? The corrupt administration that sold one of their own down the river to advance their political cause or their frightened opponents who are unwilling to take the steps necessary to right the wrongs committed by this corrupt, criminal administration?