- Uh oh! Bill is another Republican leader to come under investigation for ethics violations. The Washington Post revealed that the Senate Majority Leader recently sold all his shares in a corporation "about two weeks before it issued a disappointing earnings report and the price fell nearly 15 percent." Oh, piffle, I hear you cry, surely that was just a coincidence! Senator Doctor Bill "Follow The Balloon" Frist would never attempt such an unethical maneuver!
Oh really? Then you may be interested to know that the corporation in question was in fact his family's hospital corporation. But, uh, surely Bill had no idea that it was about to issue a disappointing earnings report... or... something.
Subsequently, a spokesperson for Bill Frist attempted to spin the matter hard enough to make it zip right off the table and disappear under the sofa. See, in Bill's Bizarro World, insider trading is the right thing to do. "To avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest," said his spokesperson, "Senator Frist went beyond what ethics requires and sold the stock." Um, what?
Allow me to explain. Apparently Frist had been criticized in the past for owning stock in a medical company while simultaneously handling legislation which could affect the medical industry, although the holdings were kept in a "blind trust" so he never knew how much money was actually involved. He could however, tell the trust manager when to sell the stock, which he did.
So it seems that despite being previously criticized for a conflict of interest - and later cleared by the Senate Select Committee on Ethics - Bill decided to suddenly sell all of his stock out of the blue to avoid such a conflict of interest, which he was already cleared of.
Therefore, as you can see, the fact that the his family's company was about to release a dismal earnings report which would cause the stock to drop precipitously clearly had nothing to do with it. ...
New documents released last week reveal that the trust managers "routinely informed Frist whenever shares of Hospital Corp. of America Inc. were added to his portfolio," according to the Denver Post. The Post continued, "If Martha Stewart can be jailed for lying about a quarter-of-a-million episode of insider trading, Frist may be sweating."
- Before we get started on Karl Rove's role in the leaking the name of CIA agent Valerie Plame, take a look at what George W. Bush had to say about the CIA leak case over the past two years (video hosted by CanOFun.com):
- If there's a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. If the person has violated law, the person will be taken care of. - September 30, 2003
- You know, there's a lot of leaking in Washington D.C. It's a town famous for it. And if this helps to stop leaks, this investigation, in finding the truth, it will not only hold someone to account who should not have leaked - it's a serious charge by the way, we're talking about a criminal action - and, uh, but, hopefully will help send a clear signal that we expect other leaks to stop as well, so I look forward to finding the truth. - October 6, 2003
- I don't know if we're going to find out that the senior administration official. Now, this is a large administration, and there's a lot of senior officials, I don't have any idea. I'd like to. I want to know the truth. That's why I've instructed this staff of mine to cooperate fully with the investigators. Full disclosure, everything we know, the investigators will find out. I have no idea whether we'll find out who the leaker is. Partially because, in all due respect to your profession, you do a very good job of protecting the leakers. But we'll find out. - October 7, 2003
- REPORTER: Given recent developments in the CIA leak case, particularly vice president Cheney's discussion with investigators, do you still stand by what you said several months ago, suggestion that it might be difficult to identify anybody who leaked the information, and do you stand by your pledge to fire anyone found to have done so?
BUSH: Yes. And it's up to the U.S. attorney to find the facts. - June 10, 2004
- If somebody did leak classified information I'd like to know it, and we'll take the appropriate action. And this investigation is a good thing. - July 12, 2005
- I don't know all the facts, I want to know all the facts. Best place for the facts to be found is by someone spending time investigating it. I would like this to end as quickly as possible so we know the facts, and if someone committed a crime they will no longer work in my administration. - July 18, 2005
Now, according to Scooter Libby's indictment, "On or about July 10 or July 11, 2003, LIBBY spoke to a senior official in the White House ("Official A") who advised LIBBY of a conversation Official A had earlier that week with columnist Robert Novak in which Wilson's wife was discussed as a CIA employee involved in Wilson's trip. LIBBY was advised by Official A that Novak would be writing a story about Wilson's wife."
There's little doubt that "Official A" is Karl Rove, and that he was the person responsible for leaking Valerie Plame's identity - which was classified - to Robert Novak.
Last Friday Rove was yukking it up with reporters outside his home, saying "I am going to have a great Friday and a fantastic weekend and hope you do too." Funny - if someone I worked extremely closely with for five years was about to be indicted, I probably would have been a bit less upbeat. But then I'm not a heartless bastard like Karl Rove.
So what are we to make of all this? As I mentioned, George W. Bush had previously said "I want to know the truth. That's why I've instructed this staff of mine to cooperate fully with the investigators. Full disclosure, everything we know, the investigators will find out." Bush also said that he stood by his pledge to fire anyone who leaked the information.
It's also probably worth taking another look at what the president's father, George H.W. Bush, said to the CIA back in April 1999:
- Even though I'm a tranquil guy now at this stage of my life, I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious, of traitors.
The labryinth of details, names and relationships may create some confusion in this case, but one thing is clear: George W. Bush doesn't give a damn about returning honor and integrity to the White House. If he did, he'd have fired Karl Rove already.