Anyone who has been following the CIA tapes scandal should pay close attention to what is happening with Jose Rodriguez, the former head of the National Clandestine Service.
Jose Rodriguez is a man who has survived more than 30 years in a business that eats folks up and spits them out in short order. If we can believe the stories officially released about this man, despite a minor bump in the road during Iran Contra (probably also a setup, as Rodriguez is, by all accounts, an honorable man), he has risen to near the top of the food chain on the basis of his own accomplishments and lasted long enough to retire. Now he is being set up to take the fall over the CIA tapes.
Why? Someone has to take the fall, but why him specifically?
I cannot prove a thing, but I suspect two reasons. First and foremost, a man who has held his former position cannot help but know where a substantial percentage of the White House bodies are buried. Second, by all accounts we have been allowed to hear, Rodriguez is a genuine patriot. He cannot love an administration that has warped and twisted intelligence – intelligence gained at probable great risk to his subordinates and friends – to take his country to war on the basis of outright lies. Did he retire so that he could testify against those who have done this? We will never know, but it fits with the little we know about this mysterious man. He isn’t an administration crony. He is a career intelligence officer who has served his country for all of his adult life, not a neocon appointee. This administration must fear him – fear what he knows and fear his rage.
Did Rodriguez order the destruction of those tapes? Despite what we have been told, we can’t even know that for certain, and we never will know it (whatever is reported in the press), but my personal guess is that he did. Just think of the position he was in. In his most recent position, he was responsible for many lives. His subordinates were ordered to break the law. If Rodriguez had not destroyed those tapes, they would have been perfectly positioned as the sole scapegoats for the horrible acts those tapes documented. I am not saying those men, and possibly women, were right to do what they did on the basis of such orders, but in Rodriguez’ view, they would have been youngsters – young patriots in the most untenable position of all, ordered to commit an heinous act by their Commander in Chief. He would not have felt they deserved to be the ones held most accountable for their acts. In a world where betrayal in the name of saving one’s own skin is the normal order of business, Rodriguez protected the folks who worked for him. He kept the faith with them, at his own eventual expense.
Rodriguez actually set himself up for a scapegoat – instead of his people. In that sleazy, slimy world of his, the destruction of those tapes was an act of personal honor and integrity so rare as to be startling. There is evidently good reason why his people loved and trusted him as we have been told they did. I am certain that Rodriguez knew very well what would eventually happen when the story came out. Men who can’t think that far ahead don’t live as long as he did in the intelligence business.
Remember, too, that while Rodriguez held his most recent position, Valerie Plame would have been one of his people – and very soon after the very time that she was betrayed and destroyed by a White House out of control, the question of the fate of those tapes would have come before Rodriguez for the first time. Do you think he might have been just a little bit angry? Wouldn’t you have been?
I am not trying to turn this man into a saint. I am certain that he is anything but a saint. Saints just don’t rise to the level of the position that Rodriguez held before his retirement. I do believe he is an ally, however, to those of us who would like to see America saved – and that we should be extremely cautious about judging his conduct until we have walked a mile in his shoes.
Rodriguez has approached his upcoming Congressional testimony with the most meticulous legal preparation. He has retained one of the finest lawyers ever to argue a case in Washington. He is insisting on legal immunity before he testifies. Interestingly enough, by delaying his testimony until a decision can be made on immunity, Congress appears to be actively cooperating with him in this. Why? What possible reason could there be?
Could it be because this testimony could very possibly bring this administration down? Does Rodriguez – a man very savvy in the vicious techniques of those currently in power – realize that he is a designated scapegoat? Does he understand that if he won’t accept the role of scapegoat, he will most certainly become a walking rifle target? I imagine so! I seriously doubt that he would have gone to this effort and expense if he had not decided to tell the whole truth about precisely who gave which orders. Sticking to the party line might send him to prison, but the time for wholesale pardons is coming up even before he would be likely to be convicted of any crime. If he were a friend to this administration, I doubt he would have bothered to be so meticulous about protecting himself. Libby walked scot free – and you can rest assured that even Libby’s criminal record will be wiped clean on Bush’s last day in office. If Rodriguez would agree to play ball, Rodriguez could count on the same treatment.
It is very evident to me that Rodriguez does not feel safe at all. Allegedly, he retired so that he could concentrate on hiring more minorities for the CIA, yet I have seen no news reports concerning Rodriguez speaking in public since immediately after his cover was lifted. His sole mentions in the news have dealt with his legal preparations for his testimony. If you read between the lines and connect the dots, this is very powerful evidence that Rodriguez has made a firm decision to tell the truth.
It is a crying shame that Rodriguez must testify behind closed doors. I would certainly love to hear what he has to say in real time on CSPAN. We can only hope that at least one Congressional member authorized to hear this upcoming testimony has a tenth the integrity of this courageous witness. We can only hope that someone, just one man or woman, will have the outright guts to tell us the truth about what will be said in that closed chamber – deleting of course, as necessary, anything which touches directly on national security or the lives of agents currently in the field. It is highly likely that whatever Rodriguez intends to tell Congress will be the ammunition Congressman Wexler needs to force some well-deserved impeachment hearings.
I don’t think that Rodriguez has decided to take his fall like a good soldier. I believe he has decided to step up and spill all the beans.
I only hope that one day we will learn what acts of outright treason those beans include.