When the Bush Administration trots out arguments and finds that even Michelle Malkin (“it is bad) and Ed Morrissey (“frankly, the timing stinks”) have trouble swallowing them, it’s in serious trouble. And that was the case here. The claims that the policy was adopted for legitimate reasons didn’t pass a smell test; even “the base” wasn’t buying them.
All of which meant: time for a new strategy. So what works better that a good scapegoating?
But is the scapegoating strategy even marginally plausible? No, it isn’t. First, we have the opening volley—everything was disclosed and approved in advance. Even the oversight committees were briefed on this. Everything was kosher. So know we’re being told that they briefed Rockefeller and Harman, but not President Bush. Does anybody believe that for even a second? No, it’s not plausible. And all this relates to an issue that has involved the White House like no other issue since the Bush Administration began. The highly coercive interrogation program—the “Program”—was Dick Cheney’s baby. He lobbied the CIA to adopt it and turned to extraordinary measures to overcome their initial reluctance. (This is how we got the torture memoranda at Justice, after all). And let’s keep in mind that this is a White House in love with secrecy and the destruction of internal documents which might prove compromising. (Think: Dick Cheney and his visitors’ logs; think: Karl Rove’s missing emails, now put at 10,000,000 and counting).
And the very correct ending:
The CIA tape destruction presents another test for the Rule of Law in America. It’s a test for Congressional oversight, and it’s a test for the Department of Justice. Michael Mukasey will have to decide whether he considers himself to be the nation’s principal law enforcement officer, or a loyal retainer of George W. Bush. He’s only a few days on the job and the path has clearly divided.