Sunday, October 12, 2003
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What Nicholas Kristoff said
Of all the New York Times op-ed columnists, I've found Nicholas Kristoff to be the most unpredictable. I disagree with Bob Herbert 99% of the time, Krugman and Dowd 75% of the time, Brooks and Friedman only 33% of the time. Kristoff is at the 50% level -- I either think he's hit the nail on the head or I find him to be dead wrong.
Yesterday he hit the nail on the head:
Indeed (link via Tom Maguire).
UPDATE: Today's Washington Post story has more info. Most important, the key source behind September's revelations makes a new appearance:
So, this doesn't change my "nasty and partisan, but not intentional or malevolent" theory of events.
Kristof also said that media commentary on the Plame Game was giving a pass to Novak, who exercised neither the care he has in reporting on many other subjects nor the discretion other reporters showed about blowing a CIA employee's cover. Kristof is right about this as well.
Leaving questions of right and wrong aside for the moment, this whole affair is stupid on many levels. Wilson, first of all, is an inconvenient but minor critic. The attempt to intimidate him was made after his most embarrassing disclosures were printed in The New York Times. The "nepotism" charge would carry weight if Wilson owed a job or perk to Plame, but even the mystery men in the administration only claimed she suggested Wilson go to Niger (the CIA denied this), a trip for which he did not get paid to a place not high on anyone's list of fun destinations. What was the point of trying to alert the press to his connection to Plame and to Plame's role at the CIA? To intimidate and generally to be bad, sure. But to what end?posted by: Zathras on 10.12.03 at 03:55 PM [permalink]
Nepotism? This White House wants to charge Wilson with nepotism? Is there anyone inside the Beltway (of any party) with brains and integrity?posted by: wol on 10.12.03 at 03:55 PM [permalink]
Concerning the leak,
To understand such behavior it has to be put into the context of the entire WH operation. From day one this President has used aides and proxies to do three things: 1) Promise rosy scenarios 2) Under-deliver said scenarioes 3) Exercise political PR management by discrediting policy opponents and critics.
Seen in this light, what happenned was hideously poorly thought out but pretty much par for the course - putting in a new light the hypothetical attributed comment of Rove of Plame being "fair game". He may have merely been repeating aloud the prevailing consensus and sentiment of the rolling PR management.
People, including me, used to roll their eyes at the degree of wonkiness regarding Clintonian WH policy making. The debacle of health care under Hillary which set back the health care debate at least a decade is a case in point. Sometimes they were completely out of touch with their constituency with all their high flying mumbo jumbo.
Now I sigh and wish for the days of wonkiness back. These guys Bush has couldn't find their behinds with both hands, and if one of em asked for some toilet paper their buddy would throw a hand grenade into the stall. Who knew ideology would create such blinders?posted by: Oldman on 10.12.03 at 03:55 PM [permalink]
I guess the Tulia drug raids were ok with you. Or maybe you just didn't like Herbert bringing them to everyone's attention the way he did.posted by: Chun the Unavoidable on 10.12.03 at 03:55 PM [permalink]
The facts that Kristoff appears to be bringing out are fascinating: he says, among other things, that Aldrich Ames is thought to have burned Plame as a covert employee, and she was taken off covert status at that time. He also says she was moving into "management" (oh, golly. Dilbert with cloaks and daggers.). So as the little pieces come out, the puzzle seems to point to less likelihood that Plame was covert by any legal definition within well over 5 years of the time she was linked to Wilson's trip.
The picture that I think is coming out is:
1. It appears to have been general knowledge, at least among a certain level of Washington insiders, that Plame worked for the CIA.
2. It appears that the CIA moved her out of covert work around the time of the Aldrich Ames case, and at best she was working under embassy cover after that time.
3. However, it also appears that she was "mamagement", not an overseas or covert employee of any type, for some time prior to the Wilson issue.
4. The identity of the "leakers" is less and less clear, and it appears that the story is built, and continues to grow, based on competing leaks. The original source of the Plame-chose-Wilson-for-the-trip story may have come from CIA people at the White House.
5. The biggest damage Kristoff sees from the case is the burning of "Brewster-Whoosis", but the best info we have is from a White House source that says the front company "may be defunct". In any case, for someone to identify the firm as an employer on a campaign donor list, when there seems to have been some public knowledge of her CIA status, seems obtuse, reckless, or something. Since, as Kristoff suggests, nobody is really in physical danger, the whole episode seems more comical by the hour.
At this point I go along with commentators like Mark Steyn who suggest the biggest problem is why Tenet wasn't fired long before now, and the whole story suggests the need for major housecleaning at the CIA.posted by: John Bruce on 10.12.03 at 03:55 PM [permalink]
Dude, you disagree with Maureen Dowd 75% of the time?
Heck, I can't even understand her 75% of the time. And she's supposed to be on my side...posted by: uh_clem on 10.12.03 at 03:55 PM [permalink]
Dear Mr. Bruce,
Oh fer the love of God, just give it up already? Are you some kind of GOP booster or something? Last week you didn't even think she could be a spy based on her napkins and nice house. The fact that she would be part of this at all is a sign of monumental incompetence on the part of the Bush Admin. This was not a smart move. No amount of additional perfuming is going to make it smell like a lily. Even Kristof thinks it stinks. Just because it may or may not have been illegal, doesn't mean that people can't see that it was *wrong*. You cotton to the concept of wrong, John? It used be a word Republicans were expected to understand. Morality. Ethics. Right. Wrong.posted by: Oldman on 10.12.03 at 03:55 PM [permalink]
John Bruce repeated a familiar canard: It appears to have been general knowledge, at least among a certain level of Washington insiders, that Plame worked for the CIA.
This claim keeps coming back and back, and with no evidence to back it up. None.
Other than that, what Oldman said. It's a good thing for the GOP there are Republicans like Daniel Drezner and Oldman around, since based only on people like you, the rest of us would be justified in calling the Republicans the traitor party.
“[M]y sense is that Democrats exaggerate the damage to Mrs. Wilson's career and to her personal security, while Republicans vastly play down the enormity of the security breach and the danger to the assets she worked with..”
I still strongly believe that this so-called scandal is merely an attempt by the liberal media to damage the Bush administration. This would have have never been a story during the Clinton years. There’s also far too much talk about Mrs. Wilson’s ability to shoot a gun and her “deep cover” status. The reality is that she was probably just a boring energy researcher who reported on the conferences she attended. The latter were more than likely already attended by an ample number of western analysts. We must not forget that the CIA wastes a lot of money every year on redundant studies. My guess is that she was never placed in a life threatening situation.
Nicholas Kristoff is in the embarrassing position of angering his liberal cohorts. The evidence he presents suggests that no law was violated. At worst, someone goofed up similarly to a traffic offender who is ticketed for going 60.01 miles per hour in a 60 mile zone. Thus, the whole argument against the alleged perpetrator(s) is based solely on petty legalisms.posted by: David Thomson on 10.12.03 at 03:55 PM [permalink]
Kristof's column was a model of faux even-handedness. The Democrats have "exaggerated" the scandal? All he really says is that, if his "sense" is right, the Democrats have exaggerated the personal danger to Plame herself. What, it's less of a scandal if the only people who are put in danger are people we'll never hear about?
And the Democrats have "politicized" it? The motives for this leak were purely political! The motives for Bush's complete indolence since July were purely political! I don't even get what Kristof might mean by this. Politicized? How can you "politicize" a clumsy political hatchet job?
And as for the special prosecutor that Kristof fears would interfere with "the basic task of governing," how could there possibly be a more appropriate case for it? Which of the words in "conflict of interest" is Kristof unacquainted with?posted by: SqueakyRat on 10.12.03 at 03:55 PM [permalink]
The WaPo story plainly identifies her as having been called an "analyst." I wouldn't quite shoot down the "inadvertent" theory as this suggests they were unaware of any cover.posted by: HH on 10.12.03 at 03:55 PM [permalink]
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