If you've followed the story of the American woman arrested on charges related to spying and Iraq, you probably know that the accused, Susan Lindauer, has at various times worked for four Capitol Hill Democrats--Congressman Peter DeFazio (OR), then-Congressman and now Senator Ron Wyden (OR), former Senator Carol Mosley-Braun (IL), and most recently, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (CA). The "Weakly" Standard--to which we'll return--was quick to post this information as what they called Lindauer's "work record," although they conveniently failed to mention that Lindauer's time on these jobs accounts for only 3 of the last 11 years. But there's a lot more than the rest of her work record (which includes newspaper writing in the 1980's) that's been missing from the stories of Lindauer's arrest, including her direct connection to the Bush White House.
The initial reports about Lindauer didn't seem to add up to much. Lindauer wasn't charged with spying, but with "conspiring to act as a spy for the Iraqi Intelligence Service and with engaging in prohibited financial transactions involving the Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein." She had made several visits to Iraq's mission to the U.N. in New York (probably the most heavily surveilled office in America), and she took $10,000 from the Iraqi Intelligence Service, some of it to cover her expenses when visiting Baghdad in 2002. She's also reported to have met with an undercover FBI agent who she thought was a Libyan agent.
Lindauer almost certainly had nothing of value to offer the Iraqis or Libyans. Some Congressional aides have access to sensitive or classified information. (George Tenet went to CIA after serving as Democratic staff director of the Select Committee on Intelligence.) But Lindauer held relatively low-paying jobs in members' offices, so it's doubtful she ever touched a classified document.
It's highly unlikely Lindauer could have compromised U.S. security, and since the indictment doesn't discuss her motives, it's not even clear that that was her intent. So why did the government pursue the case? Probably because Lindauer had made her actions known to one of George W. Bush's closest aides, thereby obligating that official to notify law enforcement officials that she was conspiring to commit espionage.
According to the indictment, "Lindauer delivered a letter `to the home of a United States government official' on Jan. 8, 2003, in which she described her access to members of dictator Saddam Hussein's regime `in an unsuccessful attempt to influence United States policy.' " That official, who wasn't identified in earlier reports, is Lindauer's second cousin--White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card.
As noted by diarist Gunther, Lindauer got attention some years back by claiming that a former CIA operative told her the Lockerbie bombing wasn't committed by terrorists supported by Libya. Setting aside the possible validity of that claim, one has to wonder why anyone wanting to get that story out would have floated it to Lindauer and not to a higher level staffer or member of the press. But when you combine the Lockerbie story with some other details surfacing in the press reports--the sheer ineptness of her spycraft, her claims of having survived multiple assassination attempts, her grandiose statements to the press ("I did more to stop terrorism in this country than anybody else. I have done good things for this country. I worked to get weapons inspectors back to Iraq when everyone else said it was impossible"), and her neighbor's comment that "she lives in a fantasy world"--it starts to look like Lindauer might pose a greater threat to her own security than to our national security.
But there is one "conspiracy" Lindauer didn't mention that is worth considering: Did the White House get out in front of this story and link Lindauer to Democrats before anyone could discover her links to Republicans? She wasn't set up to be a patsy--this isn't the Parallax View. By communicating with Card, Lindauer essentially informed on herself. However, it's worth noting that for hours the main focus was on her connections to Congressional Democrats, and only this evening did her relation to Card become public. And her relation to Card isn't her only family connection to a prominent Republican: in 1998 her father was the Republican nominee for Governor of Alaska
When somebody with such direct and presumably easily identified Republican ties is described almost exclusively as a former Democratic aide, one has to wonder if the White House controlled the timing of the arrest. Even if they were simply aware that it was impending, they could have been prepared to quickly tip their media allies (like the Weekly Standard) about her Democratic connections. This way, the narrative could shape up as "Democrat Spied For Iraq" before any other plausible narratives could take hold. A different but equally plausible narrative would have been "Woman With Republican, White House Ties Spied For Iraq." A third, and probably more accurate and nuanced narrative would have been "Unstable Woman Arrested For Trying To Spy For Iraq; Accused Has Ties to Politicians." Why was the first narrative the one that first took hold?
To quote one of the best comments made about life during George W. Bush's presidency, I deeply resent the way this administration makes me feel like a nutbar conspiracy theorist.