October 28, 2005

A West Wing Leak

Here I go again. Yeah, I know… I watch too much television, but I’m a political junkie, and I can’t resist these types of shows. I’m referring of course to last Sunday’s episode of ‘The West Wing’. I’m not a producer of the show so I can’t take any credit for the similarities. I just watch TV… and draw the parallels.

The nature of the leak

So let me set the stage for you… A senior White House official leaked classified intelligence information to the press. Sound familiar? Yeah, I’m having déjà vu all over again! But this leak was very different. In this case the leak was about the existence of a secret military satellite. Apparently, no one’s supposed to know that we’re building weapons in space.

On the other side, the leak in the ‘real’ White House was about an ‘alleged’ arsenal of weapons of mass destruction possessed by Iraq, and the intelligence fabrication which built the case for attacking / invading / demolishing / occupying that country. When the White House was called on it, this leak compromised a CIA mission to ferret out that very intelligence.

The Post-Discovery

The leak itself is not what I wanted to concentrate on in this short essay. Instead, my angle is on the actions the ‘West Wing’ White House took upon discovering the source of the leak. In this episode we found out that Toby Ziegler (Richard Schiff who plays the White House Director of Communications) was the one who leaked this classified information to the press. He was in C. J. Cregg’s office (Allison Janney who plays the President’s Chief of Staff) when he said, “I did it”. I was fascinated by the ensuing scenes and dialogue.

Cregg immediately telephoned for someone from the White House council. As Toby started to talk, she said they couldn’t speak another word until council arrived. When council did arrive he escorted Ziegler off to a conference room to isolate him as they started the process of going through his office and cataloging every artifact. Ziegler was instructed not to talk to anyone.

When Oliver Babish arrived (Senior White House council played by Oliver Platt), he proceeded to debrief Ziegler with questions of excruciating detail and nuance. “Did anyone tell you to leak this to the press? Did anyone suggest that you leak this to the press? Did anyone use any kind of gesture to cause you to leak this to the press?” I’m paraphrasing this from memory of course, but the point is clear… Babish was probing to make sure he had a full understanding, so as to have absolutely no ambiguity of what transpired.

Several scenes later Babish was following up with Cregg after his debriefing with Ziegler and asked if she had spoken with anyone since learning of Ziegler as the leak. She had made one phone call, and he probed to the nature of that call. After informing the President (Josiah Bartlet played by Martin Sheen), Ziegler was summoned into the Oval Office and immediately terminated. He was escorted right out of the White House.

The point I’m trying to make is that these West Wing characters did everything by the book, and took great pain to make sure there was no cover up and no appearance of a cover up. They immediately isolated the source of the leak, and fired him on the spot.

And then there’s reality

Did the Bush White House handle its leak scandal by the book? Did they take great pain to preclude even the appearance of a cover up? I don’t think so. They schemed and plotted on how they were going to handle it. They denied everything. They changed their story on how they were going to handle the leaker. I believe that all of the senior White House officials were part & parcel to the leak.

I guess the real difference is between a corrupt White House and a White House that isn’t corrupt. Oh Josiah Bartlet, how I wish you were really our President. Or Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits, the Democratic candidate in ‘The West Wing’). Or Makenzie Allen (Geena Davis in ‘Commander in Chief’). Or Andrew Shepard (Michael Douglas in ‘The American President’). Or Tom Beck (Morgan Freeman in ‘Deep Impact’). Or Thomas J. Whitmore (Bill Pullman in ‘Independence Day’). Or James Marshall (Harrison Ford in ‘Air Force One’). Or David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert in ‘24’). I would prefer any actor to the jackass we now have in the White House. I would trust any actor over the dipshit we have constantly lying to us from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

My son once asked me, after reading one of my articles, “Dad, would you be a better president than George W. Bush?” I replied without hesitation, “Son, a monkey would be a better president than George W. Bush!” And quite frankly, I wasn’t even joking. If you asked a monkey to repeatedly make choices between two alternatives, chances are he’ll make the right choice upwards of 50% of the time. However, I honestly don’t feel George W. Bush has made the right choice… EVER. Would a monkey have gotten us into this quagmire in Iraq? I don’t think so.

And speaking of choices

Just this week we learned that Bush’s Supreme Court choice of Harriet Miers went down the drain. We also learned that his decision to suspend the Davis-Bacon Act over the Katrina hurricane also bit the dust. In my humble opinion, if anything positive has occurred in the last five years, it’s in spite of the Bush Administration’s incompetence and corruption. The fact that these particular decisions of President Bush’s have been overturned is an indication that there is still some slight semblance of checks-and-balances in Government. Perhaps there is some hope?

Looking forward

Hopefully, now that George W. Bush is a disrespected, distrusted, discredited, lame duck… and the GOP is in scandalous peril… they won’t be easily steamrolling legislation to the advantage of corporate fat cats, and against the best interests of the country, the people, and the environment.

Then again for that to happen, the Democrats would have to get a spine.


Anonymous Nate said...

And we got Obama.And Romney.
What have we done to ourselves?

7:47 AM  

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