In 1971 the New York Times printed the “Pentagon Papers”. These leaked classified papers showed the full scope of the war in Vietnam, including the then unreported expansion into Laos and Cambodia.
This revelation incensed the Nixon Administration. First, it shed light on a floundering operation the administration would have preferred to keep from the American public. Second, it alerted the Administration that it had a mole inside who was prepared to release classified information to the media.
To rectify the situation, the administration developed a group of operatives they named the “Plumbers”, a counter-espionage group tasked with plugging up the internal leaks in the administration’s plumbing.
As all things in government, the original task soon morphed into secondary operations. The Plumbers eschewed pure counter-espionage and began a program of direct intelligence gathering. (To be fair, G. Gordon Liddy, the Bete Noir of the Plumbers, has pointed out the collection of intelligence was always in accordance with their original directive of ferreting out internal leakers). That being said, the existence of the Plumbers came to the antiseptic light of the public with their break-in at the Democratic Party offices at Watergate in 1972.
It all seems so “quaint” now, doesn’t it?
This last week President Donald Trump declassified all of the intelligence on the “Russia Scandal”. It shows there was indeed an attempted interference between the Russians in the last election. However, the players have suddenly flipped. It turns out the use of the Russians was at the direction of the Clinton Campaign. It also shows direct involvement of the White House, with coordination between President Obama, Vice President Biden, and Secretary Clinton.
Senator Clinton was having a serious problem with her emails, specifically her violation of both State Department protocol as well as federal law, by establishing a private email server kept in a closet in Colorado housing classified government documents. The insinuation that clouded her campaign was, at best, she had a cavalier attitude towards national security… at worst, she was essentially engaged in her own private foreign policy without oversight, both of which are illegal.
This is big ticket stuff. Like… people, including our former Democratic Presidential candidate going to jail, big ticket stuff.
In the US domestic media market it has produced crickets.
Foreign news sources have reported on this. But the US media, with the possible exception of Fox News, has barely uttered a word.
These things do tend to bypass the media from time to time and become part of the national conversation. For this, we can thank the advent of social media. Fear that this story could metastasize and potentially prove detrimental to Vice President Biden’s play for the White House has caused the Democrats to engage in a direct measures program.
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Last week Speaker Pelosi announced she was going to be forming a committee to look into changing the operational structure of the use of the 25th Amendment.
(The 25th Amendment allows for the removal of the President, both temporarily or permanently, if the President loses the capacity to discharge his or her duties.)
To invoke a 25th Amendment assertion, the Vice President, the Cabinet, and Congress must be on board. She would like this reduced to a two-thirds requirement, essentially opting out the Vice President if Congress and members of the Cabinet agree the President is incapable of fulfilling his Constitutional duties.
At first blush this seems incredibly odd timing.
Just before the election? Clearly it would not be able to be used against President Trump in the remaining few weeks were he to lose. Moreover, it has the potential to show she is deeply concerned about a Trump reelection… essentially setting things up for a Trump impeachment 2.0.
This does not show a supreme level of confidence in her candidate. Or, perhaps she is concerned about her candidate himself? Is she preparing for the removal of an incapacitated President Biden?
Or perhaps she is ensuring the closing narrative of the media during this election. The last thing she wants is the media reporting on a corrupt Obama/Biden/Clinton 2016 election as voters go to the polls (or the mailbox).
By raising this issue now, she is managing the media to focus on her behavior and her quixotic attempt at modifying the 25th Amendment, rather than on the alternative deeply troubling behavior of her candidate and their party.
Will this be successful? That is an answer that will (hopefully) be made manifest in November.