Actually, after midnight last night.
To confirm what had pulled us up short in the early a.m., today we went to Google and entered, “Cheney, leaks, pre-Iran, NYTimes, Judith…”
What had kept us awake was this simple memory: in order to prepare the country (falsely, as it turned out) for war on Iraq, the Bush administration – under the guidance of vice-president Dick Cheney,
“leaked” information about Weapons of Mass Destruction purportedly hidden and stored throughout Iraq for purposes of damaging the US.
Judith Miller of The New York Times, in effect echoing Mr. Cheney’s “leaks” – some apparently delivered directly to her by “Scooter” Libby – got nailed and scourged for not only writing about the probable weaponry but for also protecting her “source.”
Here is the scenario that worked in 2002 and 2003.
To persuade the American public that Saddam Hussein was a madman intent on waging chemical warfare, Mr. Cheney approved leaks saying exactly that. These leaks were picked up, not only in the NYTimes but in newspapers across the country and on television.
The following Sunday morning, Mr. Cheney would do the rounds of political talk shows, again discussing Hussein. But by that time, Sunday morning, he could, with a straight face, point to stories in the NYTimes as proof that what he was saying was not only widely dispersed but also true. How else could the Times have written about these things?
The procedure was simple genius: leak, let it bake for a day or two – being picked up by various arms of the media – then approach the leak publicly as widely known information, pointing to coverage in august New York Times of all places as proof of his canard.
Years later we may well be faced with the same ingenious scam. The Trump administration is criticized for failing to do X, Y, or Z properly – or for another challenge to the US Constitution. In order to deflect the issue, Trump’s cadre (Bannon et al) seeks to cover its behind by focusing on another constitutional issue (say immigration) which then becomes that day’s crisis, pushing the first issue off the 24 hour news cycle.
That first issue now goes “black,” i.e., underground, having been exposed. It does not go away. Rather under the cover of the second issue (immigration) it is reconstituted and progresses along the rails of Trump’s railroad now unobserved to emerge at a later date as a fait accompli.
This worked for Cheney. Why shouldn’t it work for the Donald?