Thursday, October 27, 2005

Leak This



Better write something about this before the hammer drops. There she is, our covert CIA agent and her patriotic husband, as originally shown in Vanity Fair, where Mr. Wilson actively speculated who would be cast in his role for the movie. Her name having been leaked, jeopardizing apparently every CIA agent in the field, they must have figured - what the hell, now that your very American sounding name has been revealed to the foreign enemies who knew you over five years ago, surely a picture won't add to the damage! Because lord knows that every Arab has the ability to recognize American names as if they've been spelling them out all of their lives. So the gig was up! Might as well have posed nude.

From what I've read, there is ample doubt as to whether leaking her name is actually a crime, and ultimately whether or not the special prosecutor believes it is will be revealed in the charges he brings - will Rove and/or Libby be accused of perjury and a criminal leak, or will it just be perjury? And if it is just perjury, in light of the fact that the reporters have obviously told all, why doesn't it go beyond perjury? Can you perjure yourself when being investigated for a non-crime? And if it is perjury, how does that gel with the fact that both Libby and Rove released their respective reporter buddies from agreements to keep their conversations confidential. Rove, in fact, maintains that he released Cooper from having to stay mum long before Cooper, and probably Rove himself, actually testified. So why would he lie and then let Cooper sing like a bird? I don't know the answers to these questions, but I am pretty damn sure that no one in the press has the two brain cells in their head required to ask them, or to understand that they are relevant.

My view is that these guys became a little over-zealous to discredit Joe Wilson, but I don't think anyone truly believes that Plame's name being revealed has damaged any CIA operations. If that were the case, I'm sure we would have heard the specifics now from the press. If anything, the fact that she sent her husband on the boondoggle, knowing her husband was anti-Bush, makes me wonder why we have a CIA trying to actively subvert policy. What they failed to realize at the time is that there were plenty of facts to discredit Wilson short of the fact that his wife got him the job. At the end of the day, this doesn't help Bush, but it doesn't hurt him as much as some on the left would hope for. If you hear people on the left talking about this, they want to build it up to support the claim that Bush lied to get us to go to Iraq, and Joe Wilson was their boy - exhibit #1. The problem is Joe Wilson is a liar. Here is what I wrote back in July 2004: I know that I linked to stories about this last week, but this more recent story builds a larger case against Honest Joe Wilson. Despite all of the vagueness that usually attends the "Bush is a liar" rhetoric, the "Iraq was trying to purchase uranium (for nukes) from Niger" is the one specific "lie" these people have clinged to from the get go. If you have any remaining doubts as to who the liars are, please read this article: http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/004/337paflu.asp?pg=1.

When you respond to a liar by pointing out actual lies, apparently that is a political hit-job, which is how the press has always characterized the Bush teams response to Wilson's NYT editorial. So it is OK for every liberal in the country to call Bush a liar without being able to substantiate the claim, whereas when the Bush team catches a liar on clear documentable lies, they are playing politics low and dirty.

But you're not going to get from the leak to the Big Lie (i.e. Bush lied to get us into Iraq) - people will, very correctly so, not infer the one from the other. At the end of the day, even if guilty, it's a crime not committed by any elected official, and it is a crime with no discernible impact outside of its effect on domestic politics. The shame is that it obscures the fact that Wilson is a complete ass, and by extension so too are those who cling to his lies as proof of Bush's.

16 Comments:

Blogger pbryon said...

So your argument is "no harm, no foul?"

And how did George Tenet get that medal again? Seems to me nobody likes the CIA.

9:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aside from Slick and his denial of 'a relationship with that woman' what besides perjury was the actual crime committed ?
Did we need to spend $35 million on Ken Starr and a long term investigation just to get a censure and half an impeachment ?
By your classification of an uncrime, did Slick not deserve the same for perjuring himself ?
Prosecute the crime - by the way, perjury is a crime - and make the folks responsible pay. Just don't was $35 million of my dollars on another witch hunt while diverting attention from the real issues like how did we lose 2000 soldiers in Iraq when Afghanistan(the source of training for the perpetrators of 9/11 and the place where Osama is located) is decending into chaos and again the wonderful source of most of the world supply of heroin.

9:53 AM  
Blogger Hatcher said...

The difference with Clinton is that his perjury and obstruction (getting others to lie for him as well) were in connection to a civil case brought against him. The question here is whether there is any underlying crime. If, for example, a prosecutor came after Clinton on a charge of adultery, which is not a crime on the books, and he perjured himself, should he be convicted of perjury, or would you consider that prosecutorial excess?

10:00 AM  
Anonymous Jim O said...

I will take any flimsy excuse to charge any government employee with a crime.

It used to be you couldn't trust politicians to tell the truth, cause they were looking to get re-elected, and would say anything to anyone to keep their jobs. Now it seems that EVERYONE in a government job has determined that lying (or "exaggerating") is an applicable career skill.

Clinton perjured himself? Indict and impeach. W lied about the yellowcake? Indict and impeach. Powell had reservations about the yellowcake story but went to the UN on it anyway? Indict and impeach. Libby and Rove exposed a CIA agent? Indict and impeach. Wilson "exaggerated" on his anti-Bush yellowcake investigation? Indict and impeach. Tom Delay? Indict. John Kerry? Indict

Maybe if we start prosecuting on the flimsiest of excuses, we can get some people in there who are a little paranoid about lying and will actually stick to the truth. It may be our only hope.

10:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hatcher,

Your example of Clinton being pursued for adultery would be prosecutorial excess, because they would know beforehand that no crime had been committed. In this case, if anyone knew that the CIA wanted her identity protected, but leaked her name anyway as part of a political hit, that person committed treason. Such a possibility had to be investigated. If it turns out that no one knew( which is not at all clear at this moment), then no underlying crime may have been committed. Yet apparently some lied under oath to cover up their recklessness in not checking on her status. That is, they committed perjury to prevent the political damage that would come from the release of embarassing information regarding their( inherently non-criminal) act. I'm sure that description sounds familar to anyone who called for Clinton's impeachment.

By the way, I've missed the evidence that Joe Wilson lied at any point before his wife was outed, when it could serve as a possible defense for the administration's actions ( actually, I've not seen any evidence that he lied at any point, but anything after the Novak column is irrelevant anyway). In the summer, the RNC put out a laughable press release, claiming that Wilson had stated that Cheney had personally sent him. Wilson never made such a claim. They used a Wilson quote from an interview with Wolf Blitzer. But if you look up the transcript of the whole interview, Wilson directly states, in the sentence immediately before the one that the RNC cropped, that the VP wasn't personally involved. And the claims in Wilson's report ( that Saddam didn't try to buy uranium in Niger) are apparently believed by the majority of CIA analysts. The only direct challenge( that I'm aware of- I know that Bush himself has effectively said that Wilson was correct) came in an aside to a Senate Intelligence Committee Report, written by Kansas senator and administration crony Pat Roberts, which was not signed by the Democrats on the committee ( I've seen some GOPers on TV lying about this report, calling it "bipartisan").

JWins

11:35 AM  
Blogger Incredible Dirigible said...

I'm amused by your post, Jim O, but I take exception to the idea that we should just accept that "Bush lied about yellowcake" unchallenged. After all, Saddam Hussein WAS sitting on 500 tons of yellowcake uranium, and storing it at his nuclear weapons development plant. This was noted in the New Yorks Times (hardly a pro-Bush, pro-war newspaper) on 5/22/04.

11:37 AM  
Blogger Hatcher said...

JWins,

Read the link I put in the post. It speaks about the Senate Intelligence Report at length; I think you'd be hard-pressed to deny that Wilson is pretty shakey after reading that.

And I'm sorry - calling the leak treason is laughable on its face. The woman posed for pictures!

11:42 AM  
Blogger pbryon said...

I honestly don't know--Is she still with the CIA? If so, wouldn't she have had to ask permission to pose for pictures?

Would the CIA admit that one of their intel cells was now down the toilet, or would they try to cover it up? Or would they deny that it ever existed? Isn't that SOP for exposed NOCs?

No matter what, shouldn't an administration that relies on intel to advance their causes be a little more careful about what they say, and to whom? That doesn't bother you at all?

1:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hatcher,

I'll have to look over the Senate Intelligence Report. You might be right. But he still said nothing untrue before his wife was outed, so it can't excuse the act. There was no need to engage in an orchestrated effort to get that information public. If the White House wanted to attack Joe Wilson's credibility, then attack his credibility. Whatever role his wife might have played in sending him on the ( non-paid) assignment is irrelevant to the national security questions in play.

We'll have to disagree on the treason. I think it's laughable to argue that it wouldn't be treason to destroy a front company that the American people had spent millions in developing, IF one knew this would be the consequence of one's spiteful act. She posed for pictures only after she was outed. The secret wasn't that she was Valerie Plame
( Wilson), but that Valerie Plame Wilson worked at the CIA. Once Novak revealed this fact, finding pictures of her was easy ( apparently some wedding pictures were on the web; which makes sense: part of her cover would be to live a normal American life , to diminish suspicion).

JWins

1:27 PM  
Blogger Hatcher said...

JWins,

I agree - outing his wife was superfluous. But nevertheless the fact revealed is still disturbing. I haven't seen anything to suggest that there has been any real damage from her being outed; maybe I'm reading the wring stuff.

At the end of the day, if they committed a crime, than they should be prosecuted. But I am not going to pretend that the crime is all that consequential. It might deserve a slap on the wrist a la Sandy Berger. But to me, no lie was told in pointing out Wilson is a fanciful dandy who imagines himself a man of internationa intrigue. He'd like to believe that he blew the whistle on the Big Lie - but he didn't.

So that's where this ends - an overzealous attempt to defend the admin that may have been technically illegal. It doesn't put into question the reasons given for going into Iraq. Short of that, it's a little ittie bittie scandal.

1:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hatcher,

I mostly agree - the size of the scandal depends on whether damage was done ( although I still think that a woman who put her life on the line for the country shouldn't have been outed against her will). I've read reports that a front company called Brewster-Jennings was destroyed in the process. I've also read articles ( one in National Review about a year ago comes to mind ) that claim that Brewster-Jennings had already been compromised. Maybe we'll find out tomorrow.

JWins

2:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This story is the biggest bunch of bullsh#t of all time.

Valerie Plame grew up near me in the Philadelphia suburbs. Her mother goes to the same YMCA as mine. Like all mothers, Mrs. Plame likes to tell stories about the sucess of her daughter. Years before this story broke, my 70+ year old mother knew, and told me about CIA agent Valerie Plame.

If my mother and I, and in fact, a number of members of the Abington, PA YMCA knew about Ms. Plame's identity, how could anyone have broken any law by disclosing the name of a supposed undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame?

This entire story is just a load of crap.

4:30 AM  
Blogger Professor Vic said...

So, if outing Plame was such a "bunch of bullsh#t" as the previous writer so artfully suggests, one wonders why Libby would commit perjury in order to cover up his role in releasing her name to reporters.

Did he think he had indeed committed a crime or did he just think that his actions were sleazy enough that the publicity itself would be harmful. Either way, Liby must have had serious misgivings about the release of Plame's name if he repeatedly and intentionally lied about it.

In any case, Fitzgerald was charged to investigate a potentially very serious crime. To paraphrase another wise economist who was actually referring to Clinton, "once a crime that subverts the judicial process has been discovered with respect to the Plame case, what is Fitzgerald supposed to do, ignore it?"

7:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a trial lawyer, I can tell you that as time goes by, memory changes. A witness may be telling the truth as best he can recall and be inconsistent with what he said a year ago.

As the news has reported it, "Scooter" is alleged to have perjured himself because he testified that he learned Plame was a CIA agent from the press, rather than from White House briefings. Fitzgerald has to prove that Scooter new he was lying under oath when he made those statements, rather than just relying on a faulty memory. I just can't see the waste of taxpayer dollars being justifyed on this one.

Let's face it, there are not enough courtrooms in this country to prosecute every legitimate case of prejury. Why spend all this time and taxpayer money on a perjury case that is flimsy at best, unless it is motivated by partisan politics.

I stand by my prior statement. This casse is total bullsh*t.

4:39 AM  
Blogger Hatcher said...

Give 'em hell, snake!

6:09 AM  
Blogger Professor Vic said...

Hey, I am completely agreeable to the possibility that this is a great waste of time and money (just as one might believe the ongoing investigation of Clinton's housing secretary, Ciscneros might also be a waste of time and money.)

I also might be convinced that this is yet another case of an independent council run amok (just as one might argue that Ken Starr way overstepped his original mandate in going after Clinton).

However, I am hesitant to accept a conclusion that this is a partizan witch-hunt. I mean Fitzgerald is an independent with no known polical affiliations. The top people in the justice department are Republican appointees and both the house and the senate are run by Republicans. This can hardly be an orchestrated Democratic attack on the administration.

8:28 AM  

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