As we wait for the jury to deliberate, I think it is time we all admit that our Vice President — who is at the heart of this trial — is seriously insane. On the heels of the off-his-meds Blitzer bit, he is making himself an international menace of Dr. Strangelovian proportions. Honorary blogger (and FDL Libby trial companion) Sidney Blumenthal:
At Cheney's direction, intelligence was skewed to suggest links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida. Over the past year, as that intelligence was exposed as false and, worse, as disinformation, Cheney has defended the conflation of threats through a contrivance of illogic, also routinely repeated by Bush: "We were not in Iraq on September 11th, 2001, and the terrorists hit us anyway."
Cheney's implication that the U.S. presence in Iraq cannot possibly be an inspiration for terrorism is simply not shared at the highest levels of the senior military, including commanders on the ground in Iraq. I have learned that they are privately reading, circulating, and in agreement with a new article written by terrorism experts Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank, senior fellows at the New York University Center on Law and Security. (Bergen is also a fellow at the New America Foundation. For purposes of full disclosure, I am also a senior fellow at the NYU Center.) Their article, "The Iraq Effect: War Has Increased Terrorism Sevenfold Worldwide," published in Mother Jones, provides empirical evidence for careful conclusions:
"Our study yields one resounding finding: The rate of terrorist attacks around the world by jihadist groups and the rate of fatalities in those attacks increased dramatically after the invasion of Iraq. Globally there was a 607 percent rise in the average yearly incidence of attacks (28.3 attacks per year before and 199.8 after) and a 237 percent rise in the average fatality rate (from 501 to 1,689 deaths per year). A large part of this rise occurred in Iraq, which accounts for fully half of the global total of jihadist terrorist attacks in the post-Iraq War period. But even excluding Iraq, the average yearly number of jihadist terrorist attacks and resulting fatalities still rose sharply around the world by 265 percent and 58 percent respectively."
I remember sitting in the courtroom during Patrick Fitzgerald's closing rebuttal, and the passion with which he asserted that nobody who was passing along information that could jeopardize the lives of those who work in government service could casually "forget" having done so indicated to me that he was a man who took this case incredibly personally, and would take it as far as he possibly could. When Jeffress moved to object, Fitzgerald did look like he wanted to deck him. Beyond the four corners of the indictment, I imagine the kinds of statistics quoted in the Blumenthal piece above give a serious prosecutor with a history of trying high-profile terrorism cases cause for pause.
I don't know where things go from here, and much depends on what the verdict is. Elizabeth de la Vega has an interesting piece up on AlterNet today that discusses the need for others to pick up the ball from Fitzgerald. Definitely worth reading.