The CIA Leak Case: Almost Famous

10/21/2005 07:07 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

As we wait to see if special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald will indict members of the Bush Administration, it is possible that two people are on the verge of fame. Administration insiders John Hannah and David Wurmser are rumored to have “turned.” If this is true, and if it is also true that Fitzgerald has expanded his investigation to include issues beyond the Valerie Plame leak, we may witness the gradual unraveling of the Bush presidency.

Only weeks after President George W. Bush’s inauguration, Vice-President Dick Cheney chose John Hannah to be his point man dealing with Saddam Hussein. The following year, Hannah became an active member of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) that operated out of Cheney’s office and that was in charge of marketing the invasion of Iraq and of providing information that could be used to support administration arguments. The WHIG was chaired by Karl Rove (naturally) and included Cheney aide Scooter Libby, Karen Hughes, Condoleezza Rice and her deputy, Stephen Hadley, and others. Hannah is already in trouble because he was the conduit for the fake intelligence about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction that came from Ahmed Chalabi and that was fed to the U.S. public by Judith Miller of The New York Times. It was also Hannah, along with Scooter Libby, who introduced Colin Powell to all of the phony information that he used in his disastrous speech to the United Nations justifying the invasion of Iraq.

In 1997, David Wurmser wrote an op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal that advocated overthrowing Saddam Hussein by supporting Ahmed Chalabi, whom he would later describe as one of his mentors. When the administration of George W. Bush clashed with the CIA about Iraq’s role in international terrorism, they created their own intelligence analysis unit at the Pentagon that would bypass the CIA and search for a justification to invade Iraq. Wurmser was at the heart of this unit. He then moved on to become a senior advisor to John Bolton while Bolton was at the State Department. In 2003, Cheney “borrowed” Wurmser to be his “Middle East advisor.”

If it is true that Hannah and Wurmser, both of whom were deeply involved in creating the justifications for the invasion of Iraq, have cooperated honestly and fully with Fitzgerald, they could become the case’s equivalent of Watergate’s John Dean, while the Valerie Plame leak will be to this scandal what the actual Watergate break-in was to the Watergate affair, the crack in the door that leads to revelations of a greater scandal. The question would then be whether the CIA Leak Case becomes President Bush’s Iran-Contra or his Watergate. If the administration successfully prevented the development of a paper trail connecting the work of the WHIG to President Bush, then, like Ronald Reagan, he will look bad, but will survive. If the legal isolation of the president was done in a sloppy manner, or if internal rivalries have turned administration members against one another, it could lead to the end of Bush’s presidency. As his poll ratings are already doing, Bush’s career would follow the path of Richard Nixon’s.

P.S. Why was it that John Bolton visited Judith Miller while she was in prison?