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(HOST) Who knew what when – who told whom – and who did what – questions like these are once more in the news – both here and abroad. Commentator Bill Seamans says that some people think they see a pattern.

(SEAMANS) The conspiracy theorists have in recent days had an exceptional opportunity to nourish their virtual reality. They see President Bush overwhelmed by the Karl Rove and Scooter Libby involvement in the Valerie Plame affair. Bush’s critics call it a major scandal that could also involve Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.

They note that retired Army colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, who was then Secretary of State Colin Powell’s top aide, said that he “saw a cabal” involving Cheney and Rumsfeld – that they secretly made critical national security decisions. The conspiracists ask if his closest assistant knew about it, was Powell, himself, aware of the alleged cabal’s intrigues?

The conspiracy theorists see the G.I. and Marine death toll reaching the two-thousand mark, with more expected as our top generals see further delays before the Iraqis can take over and our troops can come home.

We now have 150,000 troops in Iraq, one of the highest levels since the invasion in 2003. The conspiracy claque sees the Bush administration staggering from Katrina which penetrated the opaqueness of the White House and exposed a rampant cronyism culture that placed incompetents in key national security jobs.

All of this points to one of the favorite conspiracy scenarios – that is whenever President Bush has found himself overwhelmed by negative events he has resorted to creating a diversion to focus the public’s attention on yet a new crisis.

Now the conspiracy peddlers allege that Syria could be President Bush’s latest diversion. We recall that last week Bush sounded quite aggressive when he responded to the UN report alleging that the assassination of Rafik Hariri, Lebanon’s former prime minister, was planned by high officials of the Syrian government. Although they were not named they were said to include relatives of president Bashar al-Assad.

Bush said the world must “respond accordingly” and called upon the UN to invoke sanctions. Meanwhile, it’s no secret that Bush and Company would like to see President Assad replaced by a pro-western regime because, among other reasons, Syria has been allowing foreign terrorists to cross its border into Iraq.

Now the conspiracy theorists say that we can expect the Syrian situation to start leaking saber rattling stories attributable to the ubiquitous anonymous sources supporting Bush’s tough talk on the one hand and criticizing him on the other.

Meanwhile, we the people will remain in the middle as confused as ever wondering who to believe.

This is Bill Seamans.

Bill Seamans is a former correspondent and bureau chief for ABC News in the Middle East. He spoke from our studio in Norwich.

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