Saturday, July 30, 2005

Anthony Kerasotes M.D.

A Greatest Generation Discovery

There are many members of the "Greatest Generation" who never returned from fighting World War II. My generation, the baby boomers knew of World War II only through the stories our parents would share with us, through books and magazines which we read, and at through movies.

We were the lucky one's without even knowing it, but our parents knew that they were lucky.

We were fortunate for many reasons. Growing up in a prosperous, safe, and free nation seems an obvious reason to count one's blessings, but most fundamentally we were fortunate because our fathers lived to return from WWII, settled down, and marry our mothers.

That is the story of how so many of our families began.

When we baby boomers were small, and if we were lucky, we would listen to the stories of the Great Depression, and of World War Two (WWII) which our parents would occassionally share.

This article is a tribute to one member of the greatest generation, a hero from Central Illinois - one who never made it home to marry, or raise any children - a hero none the less. I can't honestly share his story, but I will at least introduce to you what I have learned of his story.

In Springfield, Illinois, and surrounding communities most have heard of the Kerasotes family. Every theater in town is a Kerasotes owned theater. Whatever people may feel about the lack of competition in local theater owership I'm not certain, but I suspect most feel a certain touch of pride at knowing that the Kerasotes family started their operations right here in Springfield, Illinois.

And so it is with a sense of civic pride that I want to share with the greater community another achievement of the Kerasotes family - a contribution which their family made to secure liberty for the United States, and the world.

Before I wrote this article I had never heard of Doctor Anthony "Gus" Kerasotes. I had not known that he had given his life upon the rough, and fridged seas of the North Atlantic in defense of his nation.

It was quite by chance that I came upon Anthony Kerasotes' tombstone which is located at Oak Ridge Cemetary. His stone isn't alone, for it is the centerpiece of the George G. Kerasotes' family burial plot.

Anthony Kerasotes was the son of Flora Beth Staikos
Kerasotes, and Gus Kerasotes. He was the brother of George G., and John Kerasotes.

Kerasotes Family in Springfield

Greek immigrant, Gus Kerasotes started his first storefront nickelodeon, which he named the Royal, in Springfield, Illinois in 1909.

By the early 1940s Gus Kerasotes was operating over a dozen theaters in Central Illinois. He enlisted his children to assist him in the operation of the theaters.

Gus' son, George "Gus" Kerasotes shared in management responsibilities with his brothers. In 1947 George G. was married to Majorie Marie Rouke.

The Kerasotes theater chain continued to grow throughout the Midwest during the 1950s, and 1960s.

George G. Kerasotes ended his relationship with Kerasotes Theaters
in 1985, and founded the George Kerasotes Chain. GKC Theaters was based in Springfield, Illinois.

After George G. Kerasotes died in March of
2001 his daughter Beth Kerasotes took over as the head of GKC Theaters.

On May 18, 2005 GKC Theaters was sold to Carmike Cinemas. Based in Columbus, Georgia Carmike acquired GKC Theaters for $66 million dollars
. The remaining Kerasotes theaters are operated by George Kerasotes' brothers, and their families.

Anthony Karasotes

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Photo: Anthony Kerasotes Tombstone

An entry appears upon Anthony Kerasotes' tombstone (see photo above) which refers to how Anthony Kerasotes gave his life while serving aboard the U.S.S. Leary during World War Two. What was the story behind his sacrafice?

As I stood before his tombstone, under a warm July sun, that Anthony Kerasotes had died on Christmas day in 1943 in the freezing cold waters of the North Atlantic. I know from personal experience that it is especially tragic to lose a family member during the Christmas season. Certainly his sacrafice, the loss of this son must have had a profound effect upon his family.

Anthony Kerasotes had attended the University of Illinois at Urbana, earning a degree in medicine, and when his country was in need, the young Doctor Kerasotes met that challenge through his naval service.

Anthony Kerasotes served aboard a WWI era "Four Stack" destroyer. A destroyer which had been designated for anti-submarine patrol, and escort duty.

On September 23, 2000 Anthony Karasotes was posthumously awarded the
Navy, and Marine Corps Medal for his Heroism for on 24 Dec. 1943. By his initiative, courageous actions, and complete dedication to duty, Lt. Kerasotes reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

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Photo: U.S.S Leary. Torpedoed and sunk by U-275 North of the Azores December 24 1943

The University of Illinois Alumni Association has an entry for Anthony Kerasotes posted by his cousin. I've included it below.

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Photo: Anthony Kerasotes

Graduation Year University of Illinois: 1934
Service branch: Navy
Rank: Lieutenant (JG)
Date of Birth: 1912
Date of Death: 12/24/1943
Membership: AMA

Navy Citation, Sept. 23, 2000:
The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the NAVY AND MARINE CORPS MEDAL posthumously to Lt. (JG) Anthony Kerasotes, for heroism in connection with operations against the German Navy while serving as Doctor aboard USS LEARY in the North Atlantic Ocean on 24 Dec. 1943. While engaged in anti-submarine operations, LEARY was struck by a torpedo and heavily damaged. Lt. Kerasotes immediately initiated medical procedures on the scores of wounded personnel. When the word was passed to abandon ship, he helped ensure the injured were transported over the side. When the final, fatal torpedo struck LEARY, he was continuing his medical attention to the injured and was one of the last personnel to enter the water. While in the cold water, he helped ensure the men were all taken care of and continued to swim between groups encouraging and assisting them until he himself drowned. By his initiative, courageous actions, and complete dedication to duty, Lt. Kerasotes reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Submitted to U of I Alumni Association by Steve Kerasotes, cousin.

Here's the incredible story of the tragic sinking of the Leary by Lt. Scott Robinson, H Division, USS North Carolina Historical Detachment:
On 17 December, 1943, CTG 21.14 commanded by Captain A.J. Isbell aboard the USS Card (CVE-11), left Casablanca and steamed in support of convoy GUS-24. Orders from Washington detached the Card group, Leary (DD158), Schenck (DD159), Decatur and Babbitt, to track down a U-boat concentration around latitude 45N, longitude 22W. The Card was one of the "jeep" (escort) carriers and the destroyers were old WWI vintage four-stack destroyers.

Just before dusk on the 23rd, the seas were so rough that a Wildcat and her crew were lost from the deck of the Card. An additional sailor was swept off her flight deck. While the air crew was recovered, the sailor was nowhere to be found in the rough seas. Decatur's steering gear room was flooded and she was being steered by hand.

Capt. Isbell had no way of knowing that group Borkum (13 subs) had rallied and lay in waiting for their prey 85 miles dead ahead. With the rough seas and the stricken Decatur, Isbell could not evade the group and decided to press ahead. The die was cast.

At 2200, U-305 sighted Card and ordered the wolfpack to close. At 2230 Card's radar picked up her first surface contact. Soon, there were too many to track. Card, with Decatur in close proximity had to make best speed dead ahead to outrun the wolfpack.

Leary and the stricken Decatur followed the Card and took evasive action.

Things began to happen in rapid succession. The heat was on and the ships were in the middle of a cauldron of war and mother nature's fury.

Several subs pursued Card through the night. At 0630, she was able to launch her first aircraft and a sub was immediately spotted 7000 yards on her port quarter. The subs dove under the safety of the waves and Card was spared.

Meanwhile, the two destroyers, Schenck and Leary were engaged in battle with the remainder of Group Borkum.

Torpedoes were seen in the water heading for Schenck. The closest was one that went right under her bow. A wave had crested just in time and the Schenck was spared. She steamed towards Leary to join in a systematic search of the region.

As Leary moved out to chase the more distant, Schenck made a 4th contact and lost it at about 2500 yards. She sighted a U-boat diving and evaded a torpedo to port. She closed to 800 yards and at 0145, began a nine depth charge pattern. The U-boat was damaged and surfaced at 0215. Schenck closed for the coup-de-gras. The boat dove. At 0229, secondary underwater explosions were heard and a brief surface contact was made. A distress signal was intercepted. As Schenck closed on the stricken U-boat, she slipped under the waves with no survivors. An oil slick surfaced. This was the end of U-645. The U-boat sank with 55 men and group Borkum's Doctor.

A series of mishaps were rapidly occurring aboard Leary. At 0158, Leary commanded by Commander James Kyes, made radar contact and fired a star shell to illuminate the target. This only illuminated her own position for the shadowing subs. As the sub submerged to periscope depth, there was a misunderstanding and Leary's guns continued to fire. At 0208, when sound contact was gained, the squawk box between the sound room and bridge failed to function and almost two minutes elapsed before Commander Kyes got the word, and, too late, ordered right rudder.

U-275 had been watching Leary for almost ten minutes. At 0210 as Leary commenced her turn, Oberluetnant Bork fired two well aimed Zaukoning torpedoes. They hit Leary in rapid succession. One in the after engine room, and one in the after hold. All power was lost. The crew in the engineering spaces were killed outright by severed steam lines. She listed to starboard by 25 degrees and settled rapidly. The torpedo men barely had time to safe her depth charges. This action undoubtedly saved many lives. The entire aft section of the destroyer became a tangle of twisted metal and human lives extinguished. Leary began to break apart and settle. RT Butch Hauer started the auxiliary generator and called to Schenck for assistance. As Schenck was taking an oil sample, Leary five miles distant, had reported that she had just been torpedoed. U-275 's fish had hit their mark. Schenck headed at flank speed to aid her sister.

Three or four minutes after the explosions, the XO, Lt. Robert Watson, concluded a quick inspection. He reported to Commander Kyes. Kyes ordered abandon ship. BM Walter Eshelman directed men to jettison all floatable gear and abandonment was professional and orderly as if a drill. Watson reported that everyone except himself and the skipper had left and obtained permission for one more look around to see if any wounded men had been forgotten. U-382 had moved into position and launched a third torpedo. It struck at 0241 in the forward engine space. Leary broke apart and went down fast. Commander Kyes ordered Watson and Hauer over the side and handed his life jacket to a black mess attendant who had none. Commander Kyes was never seen again.

As the ship slipped beneath the waves, her bow rose high in the air. The steam escaping form the spaces and the constant blowing of her distress horn made an eerie, haunting sound. Men swam away from her as fast as they could, dragging the injured and weak behind them. They had to escape the suction of the ship, and any secondary explosions from unsafed depth charges.

Over 60 men were killed instantly by the explosions, and about 100 were now in the 43 degree water.

As Schenck arrived on the scene, she could not pick up survivors. The water was infested with Group Borkum. A rain squall developed and pounded the waters. In a bold move, Cmdr. Logsdon slowed Schenck and dropped her gig in the water with four men aboard. He gave the order to a young Lieutenant (jg), "Save as many as you can. I don't know when we'll be back. Good luck and may God be with you." With that, the gig was in the water among the survivors. Schenck pressed on to chase Borkum out of the area.

In the water, there was no officer, no enlisted man, no black, no white. They were all sailors fighting to stay alive. Afraid that, at any moment, a U-boat would surface and machinegun them all. Not only were they fighting the enemy, they were now fighting the cruel sea. One by one, they slowly succumbed to their injuries and slipped beneath the waves. The strong fought to hold on to the wounded, but their hands and arms ceased to function.

Four hours later, when day broke on Christmas Eve, Schenck returned to the site. She slowly steamed among the debris and bodies. Her crew tried to identify the dead from the names stenciled on their clothing. She pulled 59 hypothermic and injured men from the water. 97 United States sailors perished on Christmas Eve of 1943 in the icy North Atlantic.

To learn more about the Four Stacker ships, and the men that manned them please visit this great site!


Friday, July 29, 2005

Father, Son, and Holy Ghost

This JeromeProphet Essay Crossposted to The11thHour!
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Hey Mister, can you spare 48 minutes?

Well, how about if it was for the good of your nation?

There's a great documentary focusing on the Carlyle Group, and the Bush family connection to Saudi Arabia's Bin Laden family. You'll need RealPlayer, and just one hour of your time to download, and view this remarkable peek into how powerful interest are pulling the strings in the beltway, and beyond.

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Photo: Four on Carlyle Group's Payroll

This site is also a great resource for understanding why the United States was taken into a war with Iraq by President Bush, and how a coven of political, and corporate elites, including the Bush family stand to profit financially from the war.

Here's another excellent article, from which I grabbed the following:

Unlike those firms, however, the Carlyle Group itself is not a manufacturer. It offers no services directly to the Pentagon, and has no defense contracts. Rather, it manages investments—some $18.4 billion from 600 individuals and entities in 55 countries, according to its Web site. The firm's business is making money for these investors, the vast majority of whose identities are not disclosed to the Securities and Exchange Commission or other government bodies.

Though Carlyle itself has won no contracts, the companies it has owned or controlled have done billions of dollars worth of business with the Pentagon. The Carlyle unit that brought in the largest share—$5.8 billion—was United Defense Inc., which manufactures combat vehicles, artillery, naval guns, missile launchers and precision munitions. United Defense also owns the country's largest non-nuclear ship repair, modernization, overhaul and conversion company, United States Marine Repair Inc. Its most famous product may well be the Bradley fighting vehicle. United Defense brought in more than 60 percent of Carlyle's defense business.

The scam is a simple one, politicians, and their subordinates, are purchased by Carlyle Group through campaign donations, and the promise of lucrative compensation after they leave their government positions. All the crooked politician has to do is to shape government policy, and contracts, in such ways as will benefit Carlyle Group. Since Carlyle Group is a private company there's virtually no government, or media, oversight of who is working for the investment firm, or how much they are being paid.

Did Carlyle Group invent this approach? No, but they have mastered it like no other firm in history, and for that reason they deserve great attention from the American people who bankroll their entire operation.

If you know of any ideolistic teens thinking of defending this nation against terrorism by rushing off to Bush's War, praise them for their concern, buy them a beer, and try and get them to sit down for an hour, and watch this documentary (see link above) - it just might save a life!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

A Ride With Osama

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Image: WWII Car Pool Poster

I can't help but see the similarities between Osama Bin Laden, and Hitler. In this war on terrorism many fine men, and women have given their lives for this nation. Families are left without sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, fathers, and mothers.

But despite the sacrafices of those brave men, and women, back at home, in America, it seems that many hardly even notice that we are at war. And ironically, those who are most likely to plaster the bumpers of their mega-trucks, and super SUVs, with "W" stickers, and "Support Our Troop" stickers, are actually supporting our enemies!

Every dollars spent at the gasoline pump sends money to nations which directly support anti-americanism through sponsorship of Islamic fundamentalist schools busy preaching hatred of America, Jews, and Christians.

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Photo Al Jazeera: Saint Bin Laden

Millions of young hearts, and minds, throughout the Muslim world are being contaminated with hatred for our way of life. These children are the new recruits in the war against the West led by their saintly Osama Bin Laden.

The planet is depleting its remaining reserves of cheap, easily obtainable oil, at the very same time the developing nations are demanding ever more oil. Estimates are that oil production is now at its historic peak, and that no new major oil finds will alter the rapid decline in oil production. Prices will slowly increase, and the age of cheap oil will be a thing of the past. This will happen within the lifetime of most of those alive today.

With these facts in mind the United States needs to break free of its dependence upon fosil fuels for its main source of energy. The nation needs leaders who care about the nation they represent instead of representing oil interest who don't care about the people of this nation. In the meantime we, as consumers, need to make smarter choices when it comes to the automobiles we purchase.

More oil is used for the production of gasoline than any other use. The mega-truck, and SUV, phenomena is the most blatant example of the short term approach of american consumers. Not only do SUVs, and mega-trucks, present increased danger to those driving in passenger cars, but they are hugely wasteful of gasoline.

Almost no one who buys an SUV will actually use their SUV in off road driving! It's an image thing.

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Photo: Hummer dominates Iraq, oops, I mean a rock.

I keep wondering when this madness will end. Sadly, I suspect that americans won't stop purchasing huge gas guzzlers until oil is so high in price that we are forced to do so. But this shouldn't be our approach. It should be our love of country, our concern for the environment, and our desire to leave a better world to future generations, which guides our decisions - not our desire to look down upon others from our lofty SUVs, and Monster Trucks.

This JeromeProphet Essay Crossposted to The11thHour.

The War on Drugs

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I wrote the following post for The11thHour:

Disclaimer: Dave left me, JeromeProphet, with the keys to his blog, so don't blame him if I crank the tunes a little high.

Speaking of high, I thought what better way to celebrate Dave's vacation, and my turn on his blog than drugs?

Disclaimer: I am not presently using any illegal drugs, nor do I advocate the use of illegal drugs. Children, please find other ways to amuse yourselves. Drugs are not the answer.

Having said that, I find myself having to ask if whether our society's attempt at eliminating drug use has created more harm than good. There doesn't appear to be any great reduction in overall drug use, although the type of drugs being used may have changed over the years.

In the meantime whole nations live under the constant threat of gang warfare due to the illegal trade in drugs. And in the United States a relatively large percentage of the population is imprisoned due to the illegal status of drugs. This doesn't even mention the even larger numbers of peoples out on bond, facing trial, on probation, or having to identify themselves on job applications as having been convicted of a crime due to the illegality of drugs.

Illegal drug use is a huge mess for society, and society can't afford to ignore it, but that doesn't imply society can solve the problem by continuing on the path it has employed for nearly one hundred years.

Most politicians eyes glaze over when asked, rarely, if they would favor decriminalizing drug use. They realize there simply isn't overwhelming support for changing approaches to this vexing social problem.

Yet, broad support doesn't imply that society is correctly addressing the problem.

Some argue in favor of decriminalizing drug use, and instead propose to approach the use of drugs as a medical problem. They argue that some European nations have discovered that the "medical" approach works better than the "criminal justice" approach. That not only does the medical approach seem to reduce rates of drug use, but it is less costly for the implementation of such a program. That instead of turning drug users into criminals, and spending huge amounts of money to imprison them we could instead be spending the money on anti-drug programs, and drug rehab programs.

Perhaps on a limited basis it might be worth a try?

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

STS 114 @ 10h 31m 53s

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I watch as the seconds, minutes, and hours progress on Space.Com's Digital Mission Clock.

I am reminded of the feeling of dread which overtook me, and the nation, just two years ago. Discovery has launched "cleanly" into space, and is now parked in orbit. All of us can now breathe a collective sigh of relief. Yet lingering doubts remain. Will the shuttle return safely, or will it too burn up in a fiery display streaking across the sky like a meteor? No one, not even the crew, knows for sure.

I recall the first time I heard of the shuttle project, it was the early 1970's. I was discussing, with a friend, the bright future of space exploration which lay ahead. There'd be several more missions to the Moon (some of which were cancelled), followed by the development of a space plane, a space station, a moon base, and the exploration of Mars. All of this exploration, and eventual colonizations would occur within our lifetimes.

We were both Moonstruck. As young children growing up during the height of the cold war, we had been convinced that the United States was not only the greatest military power in the world (we had the A-Bomb first), but that we were the greatest nation in the world as well. As proof, we were the only nation which had landed men on the Moon.

Drummed into our minds was the belief that living in our time, in our place, was the greatest gift anyone could be given. From Tang comercials, to wide eyed parents, and gloating politicians, we were being fed a sense of national pride, and a belief that nothing was out of reach.

Perhaps we'd be living on the Moon by the time we were our parent's age, and perhaps retiring at some spacefaring retirement community on Mars? These lofty ideas were considered as real possibilites in the coming decades. The year 2000 was dangled just out of reach to the children of my generation, as if it were some magical age of incredible possibilities. All of the great problems that would face mankind would surely be solved by then, and mankind would venture boldly into space. That would be our future!

As the decades have past, and reality set in, the dreams for a rapid migration of human beings into space have given way to the sheer complexity, and the cost, of such an undertaking. Perhaps if the Moon had been made of rare gems, and precious metals, we'd have returned and set up base, but it has been decades since anyone has stepped foot on our nearest celestial neighbor. Rock it seems isn't as exciting, and plans for return to the Moon are only that -plans..

The cost versus the benefit of space exploration has always been part of the equation. The U.S. continuallly mired in wars, and social and economic problems, was never ready to fully fund a space program capable of realizing the dreams which were weaved into the collective minds of so many of my generation.

Yet, despite any sense of disillusionment that I may have over the pace of space exploration, I am comforted by the belief in the inevitablility of humanity's step out into space.

The incredible amount of resources available in space is hard to imagine - we will find our way back. Is it still necessary to remind everyone that we can't survive as a species without venturing into space? The probability that a large meteor will once again strike Earth is great, yet unlike the dinosaurs we have the ability to stop such an event - one which would cause the extinction of mankind.

The shuttle has once again thunderously rocketed off the planet using its chemical rockets to break away from Earth's atmosphere, now parked in orbit it must once again maneuver, and descend to Earth as a glider.

Both ascent, and descent carry enormous risk. The shuttle is the most complex machine ever created, and being complex isn't a virtue. The more complex any system is, the more likely that system will fail. Keeping a system both simple, and stupid, is the easiest way to assure the system will be sustainable. The shuttle is long overdue for replacement, with a simpler, less complex design. We have progressed to simplicity.

The next space transportation system should be capable of ferrying people, and materials into space at a low cost, and should be robust enough where everyone isn't holding their breath for its safe launch, and return.

While we are told that such a system is on the horizon, it will take a commitment from the U.S. government, and the people of this nation to maintain funding for NASA at a level which will complete the transition. Most of the vunerabilities we see inherent in the shuttle's design are due to cost cutting during shuttle's design, and implementation.

We need to keep the same budgetary nip, and tuck process from taking place when it comes to the next generation STS.

In the meantime we need to make sure the heat isn't removed from NASA's feet when it comes to keeping the shuttle flying safely. At this point there are only three shuttles left with no means to make more, and the loss of one more shuttle would mean the end of both the shuttle program, and the International Space Station.

Perhaps I'm still under the influence of the promises made so many years ago about that bright future that lies ahead, but in my heart I believe space exploration holds the key to the very survival of mankind.

Sunday, July 24, 2005


I absolutely love this article. It should be required reading for every American. I'm posting it below.


By Bill Gallagher

DETROIT -- It is the holy of holies, the sanctum sanctorum, the secret underground bunker where Vice President Dick Cheney, the Bushevik Buddha, holds court, shares his wisdom and issues orders. It is also a crime scene. It's the dark cave where Cheney and other conspirators plotted the outing of an undercover CIA officer. And when their treasonous deed was exposed, they used this vile den to map their cover-up plan, which mounting evidence shows may well have included perjury and obstruction of justice.

President George W. Bush was certainly involved as the initiator of the crimes, and he bears the ultimate responsibly for the felonious behavior of his loyal followers. Given his short attention span, aversion to details and unwillingness to work long hours, the sordid task was delegated to others.

The president never saw the implications of selling the big lie that Saddam Hussein was seeking enriched uranium in Niger to use as fuel for an imaginary nuclear weapons program. First of all, Bush had sold so many lies -- as he does to this day, linking Iraq to 9/11 -- that he figured, no big deal about the Niger hoax.

And never forget, our "war president" only sees the world in clear, unequivocal terms. Saddam is "evil." We are fighting for "freedom." So if the president must exaggerate, deceive or flat-out lie to make his case, George W. Bush just shrugs.

When former ambassador Joseph Wilson went public and challenged the Bush administration's phony claims that Iraq was trying to acquire uranium for its nuclear program, the president may have cared little about the exposure, but men around him smelled big trouble.

They knew that, when Wilson told the truth, others might follow. Nip it in the bud. Punish Wilson and fire a warning shot to intimidate others. You talk, and you'll pay a price. While the president went to work in his own way -- trying to learn how to ride a new bike, pumping iron, playing video games and watching sports on TV -- three of his closest confidants knew what needed to be done and began the dirty work.

Karl Rove, Bush's "brain," relished the task. It involved his specialties: vengeance and destroying enemies. I can hear it now. The year is 2003. Rove, in the midst of a White House Bible-study class, ducks out for a minute and gets on the phone with Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the vice president's chief of staff.

Rove: "Scooter, did you read what that f----r Joe Wilson wrote in the New York Times? We'll f--k him like no one has ever f----d him."

Libby: "Right you are, Karl. We've got to break his legs and I know just how. His wife is in the CIA. I saw the State Department memo on her. She's been doing covert stuff for years. You'd never know it. She keeps a real low profile and does WMD analysis. She does her job and she's a babe."

Rove: "Scooter, I can't believe this. I'll bet she got the Africa assignment for Wilson and he got paid to go out and screw us over."

Libby: "No, she didn't, Karl. It was one of those other f---ks in Langley who tried to scuttle us at every turn. But she did know he was going over there. Her name is Plame, Valerie Plame. But she sometimes goes by Wilson."

Rove: "Does Dick know this?"

Libby: "Sure, he showed me the memo. He's down in his den. Let's check in with him."

Rove: "I'll be there in 10 minutes. I've got Cardinal Law on hold, and I've got to wrap up my Bible-study class."

The next scene takes place 10 minutes later in Cheney's secret bunker.

Cheney: "What's up, guys? Don't bring me any bad news and spoil my day. The price of sweet crude is going out of sight and Rummy just told me he ordered his auditors to lay off Halliburton and quit all this chicken-sh-t documentation stuff. Hell, we're at war. What's up?"

Libby: "Remember that State Department memo about Joe Wilson's wife?"

Cheney: "Of course. I still can't understand what she sees in that bastard Wilson."

Rove: "Dick, Scooter and I were sort of thinking out loud about that and one way to f--k Wilson and send a message to any other loudmouth liberal traitors might be to drop his wife's name and her connections on a few friendly reporters."

Cheney: "She's fair game, my friends. Who'd you have in mind?"

Rove: "Well, Bob Novak, of course. He'll do it in a minute. I thought about Brit Hume, but it's too obvious. We can't use Fox all the time. Maybe we should drop a dime on a few others to cover our tracks?"

Libby: "I could call Tim Russert. He's usually helpful, and he likes you, Dick."

Rove: "Matt Cooper from 'Time' would go for it, and we could ask Chalabi to slip it to Judy Miller at the Times. She'll repeat anything he tells her. Besides, we owe her for all those front-page stories."

Cheney: "Do it yourself, Karl. Chalabi will ask for money. Sounds like a plan. Let me know what happens."

Rove: "Any down sides to this?"

Cheney: "Don't get caught. But, Karl, remember, all we have to do is win another term and this will all be behind us."

Libby: "Besides, this is all about national security and we can use that to protect ourselves."

Rove: "Should I tell the president?"

Cheney: "I'll handle that, Karl. I'll tell him what we've decided."

Unfair? Implausible? No. This dramatic re-enactment creates scenes that portray the Busheviks just as they are -- ruthless apparatchiks willing to do and say anything to crush an enemy. Their actions were unlawful and treasonous. When they got caught in their treachery, they lied and broke more laws in an attempt to save their own hides.

While Karl Rove is usually viewed as the central figure in this blossoming scandal, Dick Cheney's dirty fingerprints are found everywhere in these serial crimes and deceptions.

Cheney, more than anyone else in the Bush administration, was eager to make the public case that Saddam Hussein was a dangerous threat to our national security and that the invasion of Iraq was the only way to stop him.

Since the facts didn't support those wild claims, Cheney was hell-bent to fabricate them any way he could. He had his old pal, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, set up his own operation in the Pentagon to cherry-pick, shape and "fix" intelligence to ramp up the case against Iraq.

Cheney would personally handle the troublesome CIA. He, Libby and others would pull up to CIA headquarters on Saturday mornings to review the work being done on the Iraq "threat." Like mafia heavies, they'd pull up in their big black cars, burst through the doors and oversee the intelligence-refining process.

Munching on doughnuts, they'd look over the shoulders of professional CIA intelligence analysts, looking for holes in their work and scouring for any scintilla of evidence that Saddam was planning to build nukes.

There wasn't much to go on. But when Cheney's thugs would find crumbs, they'd slip them over to Rummy's boys, who would try to make them into something more tasty for Lord Halliburton to chew on.

That's why Cheney went crazy when Joe Wilson blew the lid off their lies. If he got away with it, what about others at the CIA? This could open up floodgates at the Pentagon, the State Department and the National Security Council. Not to mention what the Brits might reveal about the phony reasons for war (See: Downing Street Memo).

So Cheney, Rove and Libby set out to discredit and harm Joe Wilson, a career diplomat George H.W. Bush had hailed as a "hero" when Wilson served as acting U.S. ambassador to Iraq during the first Gulf War. The slimy plot failed in part. They outed Valerie Plame, but her husband kept talking. We'll never know, though, how many others were driven into silence.

The plot began unraveling when former attorney general John Ashcroft, in a moment of forced candor, had to admit he had too many conflicts of interest to conduct a fair investigation into who leaked the identity of the CIA officer. The probe required a special prosecutor.

Now, Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor, is moving beyond the question of whether White House officials broke the law when they exposed an undercover agent into far more dangerous waters for the conspirators. The prosecutor is after the big sharks.

The Los Angeles Times and Washington Post are both reporting that Fitzgerald's team is looking at possible perjury in Rove and Libby's statements to FBI agents and in their testimony before a federal grand jury. The two most powerful White House staffers are also suspected of obstructing justice by trying to cover up their prominent roles in leaking Plame's identity.

Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, told the Los Angeles Times his client "has, from the beginning, been candid, forthcoming and accurate." Matt Cooper, of "Time" magazine, says he phoned Rove to discuss Plame's CIA job and that Rove confirmed she worked at the agency. It turns out Rove never mentioned this conversation during his first interview with the FBI. Candid? Forthcoming? Accurate?

The Washington Post reports Libby testified that he learned about Plame from NBC's Tim Russert. But Russert flatly denies that story. In a written statement, the Post reports Russert "told the prosecutor that 'he did not know Ms. Plame's name or that she was a CIA operative' and that he did not provide such information to Libby in July 2003." Someone committed perjury and I don't think it's that fine Irish-Catholic lad from Buffalo.

People in the intelligence community are outraged over Plame's outing and the administration's cavalier attitude.

James Marcinkowski is a former CIA operations officer and was a classmate of Plame's when they trained for service in the agency.

Marcinkowski now works as an attorney for the city of Royal Oak, Mich., and we have had several conversations about the scandal. He told me the identities of covert officers have been revealed in the past, but said, "Never in the history of the CIA has the White House been responsible and that's what makes this so outrageous."

Scene: Cheney's secret bunker, last Thursday night, 8 p.m., just before the president's bedtime.

President: "Hey, Dick. What's all this stuff about ole Turd Blossom and Scooter being in deep sh-t? They can't really send them to jail. What the hell did they do wrong? Ya know, I'm a war president. You're my vice president. We're up against evil. We're being strong leaders."

Cheney: "Well, sir, that's right, but they might have some problems. That's why we have the best lawyers anywhere lined up. In the worst-case scenario, if Karl and Scooter are convicted, all you have to do is pardon them. I'll explain what you have to do when the time comes. I feel terrible about this."

President: "Me too, Dick. Hey, I got an idea. I'll give 'em both Presidential Medals of Freedom. I like doing that and it does make people feel better when they really f----k-up big time. I was wonderin', though -- Laura mentioned this -- are me and you in any trouble on this thing?"

Cheney: "No, sir, not in the least. We cannot be charged with crimes while in office. The only way they can get at us is through impeachment and we control the Congress."

President: "That's good. But I hate to think people would start talkin' impeachment about trivial things, like that stuff we said about Saddam, the war and what we did to that liberal traitor Wilson."

Cheney: "No, sir. Don't worry. Impeachment is for grave, serious matters. Good night, Mr. President."

President: "You bet, D.C. Dick. By the way, can't tell ya enough what a great job yer doin' fur my administration."

Cheney: "Thank you, sir." (Muttering under his breath) "Go f--k yourself."

Bill Gallagher, a Peabody Award winner, is a former Niagara Falls city councilman who now covers Detroit for Fox2 News. His e-mail address is
Niagara Falls Reporter July 26 2005

Photos of the players below.

President George Walker Bush

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Vice President Dick Cheney
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Special Prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald

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NBC News reporter Tim Russert

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Syndicated columnist, Robert Novak

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Joe Wilson, Former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, and spouse, CIA agent, Valerie Plame

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Karl Rove, White House Deputy Chief of Staff

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Lewis ''Scooter'' Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff

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