The Replacements: Maybe Miers and Libby weren't so bad after all

As the press focuses on Alito, Cheney names two men to take the place of his indicted chief of staff.

Published October 31, 2005 8:02PM (EST)

If Democrats were heartened last week by the president's Supreme Court stumble and by developments in the Valerie Plame case, today's news brings a harsh reminder about the next three years: The same team that picked Harriet Miers and Scooter Libby gets to pick their replacements, too.

We'll hear plenty in the days ahead about Sam Alito, the man Bush nominated today to replace Miers. We're less likely to hear much about John Hannah and David Addington, the men Dick Cheney has named to replace his indicted chief of staff.

Here's what we know.

Hannah, who will serve as Cheney's assistant on national security matters, is thought to have been a member of the pro-war White House Iraq Group and may have been involved in the effort to discredit Joseph Wilson by revealing the identity of his wife. Wilson suggested in his book that Hannah may have been the source of leaks about his wife, and a "federal law enforcement officer" told UPI in 2004 that investigators believed Hannah was a "major player" in the Plame case. Earlier this month, the Washington Post, relying on "two U.S. officials," said that Hannah had told friends that he feared he'd be implicated in the case. He was. Hannah wasn't indicted Friday, but sources tell the Post that he was the "official" who Patrick Fitzgerald's indictment says asked Libby whether information about Wilson's trip to Niger might be leaked to the press in order to counter the notion that he had been sent there by Cheney.

Addington, who will serve as Cheney's new chief of staff, also shows up, albeit not by name, in Fitzgerald's indictment. Until he was promoted today, Addington served as Cheney's counsel. The indictment alleges that, on July 8, 2003, Libby met with Cheney's counsel and asked "in sum and substance, what paperwork there would be at the CIA if an employee's spouse undertook an overseas trip." While those words don't suggest that Addington did anything wrong, progressives might be given pause by another bit of knowledge about Addington: He apparently played a substantial role in Bush administration discussions that may have led to the torture of detainees in the government's custody.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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