Friday, October 24, 2003
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The Onion weighs in on Valerie Plame
What's scary about this Onion story is that it's not much of a tweak from a real news story. The highlights:
posted by Dan on 10.24.03 at 11:18 AM
Dan, I was thinking you'd let this one run its course, because I think that's what it's doing. But since your last post on this, The Weekly Standard has run the most knowledgeable and sanest discussion so far. The evidence seems increasingly solid that no crime was committed, no intentional or unintentional danger resulted to Plame, Wilson, or anyone else, no compromise to national security resulted.
I do note that the DNC was running test ads in the Scranton, PA area to see how upset they could get the local TV viewers about the issue. The Post piece is simply summarizing the "investigation", which is sort of like summarizing the police blotter when Mrs. Schmidlapp calls in about a "prowler", as she does most nights. No real crime equals no real investigation.posted by: John Bruce on 10.24.03 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Shorter John Bruce: "Move along folks, nothing to see here..."
Meanwhile, actual CIA agents who are in a position to know and are registered Republicans to boot beg to differ:posted by: uh_clem on 10.24.03 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
The satirical Onion’s attention on this matter may very well indicate that this “scandal” is disappearing off everybody’s radar screen. I have had weeks to think about this matter---and I’m still convinced that this was merely an attempt by the liberal dominated “mainstream” media to embarrass the Bush administration. This would have never been an issue if Bill Clinton were still in the White House. At the very worst, it is similar to the traffic cop ticketing someone for going a tenth of a mile over the speed limit. To be blunt, we are talking about an exercise in petty legalism while ignoring the spirit of the law.posted by: David Thomson on 10.24.03 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
The evidence seems increasingly solid that no crime was committed...i>
Actually, the article merely argues that no harm was done, not that no crime was committed.posted by: KenB on 10.24.03 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
“Meanwhile, actual CIA agents who are in a position to know and are registered Republicans to boot beg to differ”
There position is entirely premised upon the probably that someone in the Bush White House deliberately outed Mrs. Wilson. Nonetheless, Bob Novak has gone on record and stated unhesitatingly that the Bush official casually mentioned her employment with the CIA---a fact well know to many Washington insiders. This person apparently was not trying to be another Phillip Agee. Last but not least, the particular law in question specifically refers to agents acting undercover within the last five years. We now know that this was almost certainly not the case with Mrs. Wilson.
How important is it that some of these CIA agents are registered Republicans? Not very much. Many of these people are isolationists who feel uncomfortable with the current administration’s neo-conservative inclinations. They would have also likely given Adolph Hitler a free ride back in the late thirties.
“Actually, the article merely argues that no harm was done, not that no crime was committed.’
Yeah, just like when we commit the crime of going slightly over the speed limit. Let’s get real.posted by: David Thomson on 10.24.03 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
"They would have also likely given Adolph Hitler a free ride back in the late thirties."
Good grief. Somebody tries to hold the Bush administration accountable for a serious crime with international implications and you can't make excuses fast enough. (Speed limit? Ay caramba. And by the way, people do still get prosecuted, even for that. Bad analogy on every count!)
Is there anything Bush & friends could possibly do that you *would* investigate/give a damn about? Or do they pretty much get a free ride, David T.?posted by: R seven on 10.24.03 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
“Somebody tries to hold the Bush administration accountable for a serious crime with international implications....”
Oh wow, you seem to enjoy engaging in rhetorical overkill. I refuse to take you seriously. You obviously have an axe to grind.posted by: David Thomson on 10.24.03 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
“Or do they pretty much get a free ride, David T.?”
Fair enough. Why aren’t the politically correct liberal media not taking the Bush administration to task for pandering to Muslim extremists in this country. Why does the fatuous Norm Mineta still have his job? Now that’s a real scandal!posted by: David Thomson on 10.24.03 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Mr. Seven, not only is Mr. Thomson correct about your rhetoric, he's kind enough not to point out that you're not being honest in the first place.
Who is the "somebody", and how is there motivation justice?posted by: Art Wellesley on 10.24.03 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Perhpas there should be a Plame "Scandal" going away party. Hosted, of course, by Joe Wilson and his wife the "real life Jennifer Garner". The guest list could include Joshua Marshall, Paul Krugman, Kevin Drum, Mark Kleinman, Brad DeLong, and all the committed scandal-mongers who liked to post here. They can all bid a wistful farewell to the "scandal", reliving all the highlights and trading stories of the most outlandish unsupported accusations they were able to foist on the public for the brief week when anyone outside thier circle cared. Then, they can start cooking up the next one, kind of like the Republicans used to do in the 90's.posted by: Eric Deamer on 10.24.03 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Shorter David Thomson:
"CIA agents? What do they know?"posted by: GT on 10.24.03 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Whether or not Valerie Plame was engaged in serious work inside the Agency's Non-Proliferation Center
Poor Gerecht, it must be so hard writing speculative junk for a living (albeit well-paid at the conservative think tank trough), when once he knew what was going on. The column is equal parts nostalgia for his old life and a continuation of his war against his former superiors in the CIA bureaucracy (a battle in which I used to think he was correct, until seeing what he has become).
As has been pointed out, nothing in the article speaks to whether a crime was committed in outing Plame, and most of the discussion of potential damage to national security is based on general platitudes.
We're saving the indictment for Fall 2004.posted by: Andrew Lazarus on 10.24.03 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
I dont like following up to my own post, but only after writing the above did I see Gerecht also quoted in the "update" on conservatives and the Clinton anti-terrorism plan. He writes (in small part)
This scene is probably pretty close to reality in Yemen [emphasis added]I reiterate the first paragraph above, with this new evidence. posted by: Andrew Lazarus on 10.24.03 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
"This would have never been an issue if Bill Clinton were still in the White House."
True. It would have been an Article of Impeachment.posted by: Californian on 10.24.03 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Andrew Lazarus wants info on "whether a crime was committed in outing Valerie Plame". Several others have continued to raise this issue. The crime involved would require (to repeat), current undercover status overseas (or within last 5 years) by Plame, current deliberate efforts by the CIA to conceal her identity, and a proven deliberate intent by someone not a journalist to blow her CIA cover.
As far as we know, from Micholas Kristof, not a right-wing fanatic to my knowledge, Plame has not been covert since she was apparently outed by Aldrich Ames in 1993 (who is currently serving time for his actual crimes in this area). Her general biographical info suggests she has not been overseas on assignment since her marriage to Wilson. Statements by Kristof, Andrea Mitchell, and others say it was general knowledge she was CIA. We have no indication, based on this, that any "leak" of her status was anything but a casual remark (as reported by Novak) referring to generally known information.
Mr. Laxarus and others, please indicate where this information is incorrect, or where you believe known information, reported in news media, shows a crime to have been committed.posted by: John Bruce on 10.24.03 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Above all, I hate the stench of mendacity and hypocrisy. In the 90's I among other Conservatives had no difficulty in asserting that Clinton should be impeached - for lying in a *private* lawsuit about *personal* consensual behavior. As an exercise in "petty legalism" it was the idea that lying is lying despite the Liberal arguments that it wasn't technically perjury and technically no laws were broken. The concept was that 'No One is Above the Law'. The Rule of Law.
Now I have to listen to Conservative dittoheads shaming the principles my own side have always stood for by saying *no harm, no foul*?
A cover of a NOC officer of the CIA was broken, violating the letter of the law. This law was enacted b/c of Philip Agee, even though he had a hell of allot better reason to leak covert IDs than the White House did on this one. At the very least, heads should roll.
Now I have to listen to this *crap* about how it wasn't technically illegal and this sophistry about *no harm, no foul*. No one is above the law. That was the principle then. That is the principle now.posted by: Oldman on 10.24.03 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Mr Bruce, I suppose under our system of jurisprudence we can't be sure a crime has been committed until a conviction, but the fact that there is an active investigation (based on a CIA referral) would suggest there's a significant possibility.
I'm only going to address one of your questions, because I have no idea if Plame went overseas in the last five years. (It may interest you to know that my wife managed to go overseas for two weeks in connection with her academic job when we had two kids under the age of three, so your contrary conclusion based on a cursory examination of Plame's marriage and childbirth history has a misogynist whiff to me.)
What does it mean that the CIA took steps to protect her identity? She didn't work in their offices. They didn't list her as an employee. They constructed a cover story and fake career for her with a front company. What exactly do you think is needed beyond this to "protect her identity"? Erasing her fingerprints with acid? Hiring hit-men to rub out journalists who suss out her identity (that is, after all, the sort of thing journalists try to do)? I'd like some specificity from your side on what protecting identity means before playing a guessing game I am sure will be futile pointing out what they did do.
I might add, in advance, that I don't consider "prohibiting her from marrying an ambassador" as protecting identity. I would think the social possibilities of Embassy wife (and mother) would be excellent cover for an agent.posted by: Andrew Lazarus on 10.24.03 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Oldman, see David T. above: Laws only apply to Democrats. There is no reason that the Bush administration could ever be scrutinized save perhaps for having a Democrat in the Cabinet.
What matters is not that the CIA has formally requested an investigation of a matter (which pretty clearly indicates they have evidence there was criminal wrongdoing), but *why they might be doing it* and whether they are sufficiently *loyal* to the Republican Party. If not, screw them, no matter what silly laws say. And if the public cannot specify what specific actions violated the statute, then logically there must exist no classified information that does.
Oh, and the media is biased and politically correct, and non-neoconservative Republicans would have done nothing about Hitler. (Remind me, who were the neocons of the 1940s?)
Furthermore, people should not obey the speed limit, which Jimmy Carter passed before he was President, and no one ever faced any consequences for speeding, ever, which further proves that an undercover agent's name was never published in several national newspapers. And if it was, she was in the phone book anyway, so who cares?
There, I think I've got it. Conservatism 2003.posted by: R seven on 10.24.03 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
There's been wrong-doing on both sides - personally I saw red concerning the FBI files that just happened to show up in the Clinton White House. That was something that should have been followed up, instead it turned into fog and whispers.
Republicans have never been above dirty tricks. However there is a difference between burning foreigners and burning your own side.
My "fellow conservatives" who argue that a NOC cover might have been *accidentally* blown don't do my movement any favors. At least if it was malice it could be addressed in the future. What can one say about a group of people who accidentally and semi-randomly blow top secret information? That they don't deserve to be in power.
"I didn't know." is the excuse you give to your parents when you ding the family car. When you in control of the most powerful country in recorded human history - you better damn well know. If you didn't, then you better get on it - fast.
Yet "I didn't know." has been the excuse of this Administration from everything on WMD, Iraq, 9-11, Plame, Steel Tariffs, Tax Cuts, Reconstruction Financing, etc. Well if they don't know maybe they better get somebody who does know how to find their bums with both their hands, or step aside for someone who can. Because "I didn't know." may work for your parents but it doesn't cut it for being in charge of the United States of America!!!posted by: Oldman on 10.24.03 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
"The Weekly Standard has run the most knowledgeable and sanest discussion so far."
From the linked article:
"Reuel Marc Gerecht is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard. He is a former case officer in the CIA's clandestine service."
Mmm hmm. I trust someone who works at AEI to give me an honest evaluation.posted by: Jason McCullough on 10.24.03 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
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