Sunday, June 22, 2008

The non-whistle blower

Alex lay in the tiny bathtub with his legs bent because that was the only way he could fit in. He took an occasional puff on a Marlboro Light and an occasional pull on a Miller long neck. All the while he started at one corner of the ceiling off to the side where bits of rain leaked through the white ceiling and had long ago turned the area a golden brown. Further to the side there were rings, the sort a glass might leave on a coffee table.

It seemed a little strange to be taking a bath while it rained outside. But it had been a strange day.

"Get a good job," his father had told him over and over growing up.

As if that were the key to a happy life.

He'd done that.

Or thought he had in March 2001. Even his father had thought so, placing a hand on his shoulder and telling him, "You got a good job, boy."

Not everyone grew up to work for the Vice President of the United States.

And Mr. Cheney was quite the man. It was an honor to serve him.

At least in the beginning. But the Iraq War had caused Alex conflict.

Then came the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame, under Mr. Cheney's orders.

Scooter Libby had played dumb and now Scott McClellan was doing his own version of 'limited hang out.'

It had seemed so easy in 2002 with just a few lies to push the country into the war. But then it had become important to lie again when people like former Ambassador Joe Wilson began talking. To silence him and send a message, it was important to out Wilson's wife.

They'd smeared before. Certainly, it was wrong to run to the press with false charges against former Treasure Secretary Paul O'Neill. But that had happened so quickly -- whisper it into David Gregory's ear and there he was later that day declaring on NBC's Nightly News that O'Neill may have stolen computer discs and other items to help Ron Suskind with the book The Price Of Loyalty -- that there was no time to ponder the ethics of it.

With the outing of Valerie Plame, Wilson had to be shut up and anyone else thinking about coming forward had to realize the price they'd pay for doing so. Stephen Hadley had basically been Mr. Cheney's point-man. He'd rallied them to work quickly and blanket the press with the information.

There had been no time for doubts and when Alex' doubts surfaced later, Victoria Toensing was explaining to the world that no law was broken and that Plame had not been undercover.

But as the scandal subsided and it emerged that Plame had been undercover.

Alex took no pride in breaking the law or in being part of a government's operation to retaliate against someone working for the government. As more time passed, he thought about all the others put in jeopardy by outing Plame, the associates, the agents, the assets. He thought about all the ongoing investigations that no doubt ended.

He thought about things that he never crossed his mind when they were all bursting into action and he couldn't deny that they were never 'saving' the country. He couldn't escape the fact that they were the criminals.

His arm snaked over the edge of the tub and picked up the SW99.

He held in his hand for a moment feeling the weight of the gun and thinking about all he'd done, all he'd taken part in, and how the others were responding.

"I ain't no Daniel Ellsberg," he muttered pulling the trigger.

As the sound of the gun firing faded, the rain continued to leak through the ceiling.
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