"We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud." It was September 2002, and then-National Security Advisor, now-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was fastening on CNN perhaps the most memorable and frightening single link in the Bush regime's chain of lies propagandizing the war on Iraq. Behind her carefully planted one-liner with its grim imagery was the whole larger hoax about Saddam Hussein possessing or about to acquire weapons of mass destruction, a deception as blatant and inflammatory as claims of the Iraqi dictator's ties to Al Qaeda.
And, of course, the larger issue beyond Plame is the Bush regime's Big Lie behind the invasion of Iraq, in which the phantom Nigerien yellowcake was an important malignant element. No government since World War II has more blatantly invented the pretext for waging a war of aggression. The Rove and Libby collusion only begins to peel away the layers of the crime. Rice is the next skein to be pulled.
Her manifest failures in the fateful months before 9/11 in meeting the principal responsibilities of the National Security Advisor - the sheer incompetence and shallowness that left so much intelligence uncoordinated, so much neglected or misunderstood - should have been enough to have run her from public office long ago, of course, were it not for her hold on this tragically flawed president, and her deplorable immunity amid the chronic political cowardice of both the Democrats and the media.
Now, however, her role in the Plame scandal cannot be ignored or excused. She alone among senior officials was knowing and complicitous at every successive stage of the great half-baked yellow cake fraud. She alone was the White House peer - and in national security matters the superior - to Rove and Libby, who never could have acted without her collusion in peddling Plame's identity. She as much as anyone had a stake in smearing Wilson by any and all means at hand. If Rove and Libby are to be held criminally or at least politically accountable for a breach of national security, our "mushroom cloud" secretary of state should certainly be in the dock with them.
I notice that since the shit hit the fan on this deal, she's been out of the country a lot.