Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Bush wants to silence Clark. Clark doesn't object?

Josh Marshall talks this morning about the Bush administration's insistence that Wesley Clark, when he testifies before the Hague tribunal in the trial of Slobodan Milosovic, do so in "near complete secrecy". The Bush administration has done this before with only one other official (Richard Holbrooke). Why are they doing it with Clark?

Two explanations suggest themselves. One is more administration payback against Clark -- an effort to keep him out of the spotlight for political reasons. But a more likely and prosaic explanation is the administration's contempt for international law and legal institutions.

Administration officials demanded a similar level of censorship on possible testimony from Richard Holbrooke last year. And court officials, for now at least, decided not to call him at all.

So many bad motives to choose from, right? In this case, for them, it's probably a twofer.

Politics is certainly an obvious candidate for their motivation. But I think it is a bit of a mystery why they think they should make a big deal out of this. Would public testimony by Clark really be that politically damaging?

But there is another question I have about this: why hasn't Clark made a bigger deal about it?

If it is politically motivated, this would be an ideal opportunity for Clark to stand up and call the administration to task for their actions. He could certainly embarass them into letting him testify publicly and the resulting publicity would produce an even greater public interest in his testimony. All in all it would seem that publicly criticizing this decision would be a net-plus for Clark's campaign.

But, as far as I know, Clark has not expressed a single objection to the conditions the Bush administration are imposing. Is it because he agrees with their reasons? Or is it because he just isn't politically astute enough to realize the goldmine of publicity they could be handing him?

It is a puzzlement.

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