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A Funny Sort of Destruction:

Joe Klein writes, in a Time magazine piece:

But it is an even better indication of how the White House reflexively dealt with unpleasant news: destroy the messenger. Last week there was more of the same, according to a prominent Republican, who told me that the White House had sent out talking points about how to attack Brent Scowcroft after Bush the Elder's National Security Adviser went public with his opposition to the war in the New Yorker magazine. "I was so disgusted that I deleted the damn e-mail before I read it," the Republican said. "But that's all this White House has now: the politics of personal destruction.

But RealClearPolitics quotes what seems to be that very e-mail, and, in the words of Mickey Kaus, the e-mail "was a completely civil and substantive attempt to rebut the substance of Scowcroft's arguments. . . . [T]he sober, almost academic email . . . ends with a vicious, inflammatory, "Let the debate proceed." If you can't send that around then you can't have a useful argument about policy. Read the e-mail for yourself, and see if "destroy the messenger" (as opposed to, say, "argue with the messenger") is a fair characterization.

(Thanks to InstaPundit for the pointer.)

Greedy Clerk (mail):
Professor, do you disagree that this administration has not visciously attacked those who dared to disagree with it on its foreign policy. Especially when those people are Republicans, or former administration officials. Richard Clarke, the former Secretary of the Treasury (whose name now escapes me), Larry Wilkerson --- not to mention Joe Wilson where administration officials carelessly outed his wife and then lied under oath to a grand jury about it. If you disagree, I've got this great bridge, interested in buying?
11.8.2005 7:49pm
Steve Plunk (mail):
Honest debate is now called "politics of personal destruction" by the left. Joe Wilson's wife wasn't "outed" according to the special prosecutor. Richard Clarke was trying to make a buck and get attention.

These are facts. I see no facts coming from the left, only accusations and speculation.
11.8.2005 8:12pm
Cecilius:
Greedy Clerk:
The rest of the VC readers do not appreciate your vicious smear of Professor Volokh. This reflexive need to attack all those that disagree with you has chilled all attempts at civil discourse on this blog. Apparently, since you did not like the indisputable opinion of Mickey Kaus, you've set out to destroy the messenger. Your tactics are disgusting and you are no doubt, at this very moment, overseeing a hit squad of private investigators to sabotage Professor Volokh's career.

Wow, this is fun. By simply characterizing all of your positions as the immoral sliming of your enemies, we can smugly declare ourselves victorious in the arena of ideas without ever bothering to actually defend our positions or address yours.
11.8.2005 8:18pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
I second Cecilius. (though it may have been sarcasm...) Obviously Volokh wasn't making a blanket statement about the Bush administration, and your attempt to portray the post as such is just a poor attempt at changing the subject.

Why do you go out of your way to slam the posters even when your complaints don't seem to make any sense? This is humor for most of us... no reason to get defensive (or offensive).

Do you disagree that in this instance, the "personal destruction" charge was overblown? If so, I've got this great bridge to sell you...
11.8.2005 8:27pm
Bruce Wilder (www):
The reflexive partisanship of Greedy Clerk and Steve Plunk illustrate part of the problem, but only part. The incompetence of the news media is another part. It is Joe Klein, a journalist, who is irresponsibly putting this narrative into play.

Klein is not partisan, he's not a leftist or even a liberal; he's just incompetent and irresponsible, which, unfortunately, is very common among our journalistic "elite". Whether their incompetence, at any one moment, serves the current Administration or not, I doubt that it ever serves the country well.
11.8.2005 8:57pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
Joe Wilson's wife wasn't "outed" according to the special prosecutor.

I missed that statement from the Special Prosecutor.

11.8.2005 9:18pm
MadVeterinarian (mail):
Well, now that the floodgates have been opened, there's another "investigation" into the CIA leak to WaPo about the secret prisons. Sounds like the CIA has some problems.
11.8.2005 9:30pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Not too many years ago, Klein would have gotten away with his account. I'm amazed that he thought he could do so today with such an active internet and blogsphere. I'm sure he's an intelligent guy, so I wonder what he thought would happen. Did he really think he could get away with it?
11.8.2005 9:36pm
frankcross (mail):
At the facial level, when someone says they deleted an email before they read it, they probably are not a reliable source as to the content of that email. Don't you think?
11.8.2005 9:56pm
Markusha:
I completely agree with Greedy Clerk. He is not smearing anybody, just positing valid questions.
I also think that if this particular email is really the email that Klein's source had referred to, then the email is completely legitimate, However, Bush's administration does have a pattern of politics of personal destruction of its critics.
11.8.2005 10:42pm
Visitor Again:
Greedy Clerk,

Welcome to this blog. It's nice to have som4eone to read other than Volokh's minions in perfect lockstep. They did a pretty good job of smearing you in unison. Hee, hee. Stick around.
11.8.2005 10:47pm
SMGalbraith (mail):
Greedy Clerk:
How did the White House smear Larry Wilkinson, the former top aide to Secretary Powell?

Is falsely accusing someone of smearing itself a smear?
11.8.2005 11:06pm
tsotha:
I don't see how pointing out a deliberate distortion of the truth constitutes "the politics of personal destruction". In both Richard Clarke's case and especially Joe Wilson's, you had people lying on camera for personal and polical gain. Should the administration refrain from pointing out the truth?

For personal destruction you have to go to the other side of the aisle and look at Ronnie Earle's legal attack on Tom Delay. That's the politics of personal destruction.
11.8.2005 11:31pm
Nikki (www):
Erm, what does this have to do with the law, exactly? It seems to be nothing but a partisan defense of Bush. Great if you want to be a talking head or opinion editorial writer, not so great for a law blogger, IMO.
11.8.2005 11:38pm
CrazyTrain (mail):
How did Greedy slime Professor Volokh? He simply stated an opinion (which is pretty much fact) that the Bush administration has tried to destroy personally anyone who questions its wisdom. This is hardly new -- anyone remember South Carolina and John McCain??

He didn't say anything bad aboutt Volokh, except to imply that a view contrary to his was unreasonable --- hence, they hyperbolic metaphor re a bridge to seel him. Perhaps he was overly confident, but he wasn ot insulting, and certainly didn't slime anyone.

Oh and memo to whoever wrote that the Special Prosectuor "found" that no one outed Wilson's wife: I suggest you read the indictment. It specifically alleges Wilson's wife was undercover, that this was not widely known, and that someone in the administration blew that cover. He did not indict on that, and of course an indictment is not proof, but he hardly cleared anyone in the underlying crime. Moreover, part of the reason that information did not come out sooner and clearer was because Scooter Libby (and probably Karl Rove who according to the Prez himself is still under investigation) lied his fricking ass off big time. He made up a story that was untrue to cover up what was true: he outed Valerie Plame. That's called treason in my book.

And one more thing: re the leak of the secret gulags, errr prisons, Trent Lott says it was a Republican Senator who leaded that. Go look it up. Use Google, it's an amazing tool.
11.8.2005 11:45pm
SMGalbraith (mail):
Trent Lott says it was a Republican Senator who leaded that

I believe that Trent Lott said something much different than what you're stating. Lott said that the report in the Washington Post sounded word for word like a report the Senators and their staffs heard several days ago.

Which means that the leak could have come from a staff member or member.

More likely, however, the leak probably came from several different sources because the Post could not run a major piece like they did a mere two days after the report was circulated among the Senators and the staff. It would take several weeks to verify the information and track it down.

Dana Priest, the author of the piece, included a lot of details that needed to be vetted. She didn't put together her piece in 48 hours. Must have taken weeks, if not months.

BTW, treason is "adhering to their enemies, giving them aid or comfort." I understand that Rove drives some folks crazy but not even the most insane person would argue that he (or Libby) was "adhering" to any enemy.
11.8.2005 11:58pm
EricH (mail):
Seems to me that is's rather odd to read someone accusing high officials in the White House of "treason" and then also complaining about how the Administration smears people.

Oy, treason? Deliberately aiding the enemy?
11.9.2005 12:03am
Buck Turgidson (mail):
I believe that Trent Lott said something much different than what you're stating.

Trent Lott that people calling for an investigation should be careful because it is a Republican senator who might be outed. I would venture a guess that he knows who released the information. Unlike the Plame case, where there is a specially carved statute, there is no crime in release of the information on black ops. More importantly, what was Dick Cheney doing shairng this information with Republican Senators? Was that supposed to be his defense against the anti-torture vote? A justification of the likely presidential veto? "We don't torture anyone--we let our flunkies in ex-Soviet prisons do it!" Is this his argument? These people don't need any help--they out themselves.

On Greedy Clerk and his detractors--I fail to see where his post was anything short of "almost academic". The knee-jerk reaction of those whining about the post demonstrates that even in law and in academia there are plenty of idiots.

She didn't put together her piece in 48 hours.

Apparently you don't know how journalists work. They are not legal scholars. They don't spend weeks to write blather. And Dana Priest does not work for CBS, so agonizing for weeks over whether to release the story or not is not an option. Also note that a considerable amount of "vetting" went through the CIA. Has it occurred to you that they might have released the information? After all, not everyone at the CIA is a White House flunky. In fact, that list might end with Porter Goss...
11.9.2005 12:21am
trotsky (mail):
Gosh, assuming it's the same e-mail, I have to wonder why those starry-eyed idealists in the administration aren't out giving more speeches about the blessings of liberty. Might even win 'em a few votes.
11.9.2005 1:23am
ras (mail):
Dear Eugene Volokh,

OT:

I'm gonna go w-a-y off-topic here with a late-night q: Do you think that a judge could effectively blog even as he served? Cuz you sure seem to be heading that way. Your thoughts?
11.9.2005 3:43am
roy solomon (mail):
"...quotes what seems to be that very e-mail,..."
Based on source credibility and lack of headers, or other identifying citations or information, that's quite a leap of faith.
11.9.2005 8:32am
Frank J. (mail) (www):
If that's a White House smear, they've really gone down in quality. Bullets of fact-based rebuttals might work in some situations, but it would have been nice if the e-mail ended with "BTW, Scowcroft has eight illegitimate children," to at least show some effort at smearing Scowcroft.

As a Republican, I really think we need more political opponents with secret agent wives we can out.
11.9.2005 8:57am
JohnM:
I'm no expert on journalism or the conventions of the Washington media, but "the White House" likely encompasses quite a few people. Given the number of people who work in the White House, what are the odds that the quoted e-mail was the only e-mail sent by "the White House" responding to Scowcroft's criticisms? At best, Professor, you have proven that not every e-mail sent by "the White House" regarding Scowcroft was a smear. The mere existence of one non-smear e-mail from the White House does not cast any light on whether this was the e-mail that Klein's source received. Professor Volokh, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and presume that Todd Zwycki got ahold of your password, but if this entry is really yours, I'm pretty surprised and disappointed in your decision to lower the level of discourse here.
11.9.2005 9:33am
Marcus1:
Cecilius,

So you also disagree that smearing is in Karl Rove's playbook? Is this just a false characterization of what he does?

It's just funny, because Volokh is so sparse with his political commentary. Then he posts a Republican talking point, but without drawing any explicit conclusion. I mean, what's his point? A "prominent Republican" said this. So he was wrong? Should the story not have been reported? Is there a point?

We assume because Volokh posts on this that he thinks it is of some larger importance. It's like if I had a blog and I randomly put up posts about religious people committing crimes. A reasonable question would be "So, Marcus, do you think religious people commit more crime?" Without an answer to that question, there's really not much to say.
11.9.2005 9:37am
Hemingway:
How did the White House smear, or personally attack, Wilson, Clarke, or Wilkerson? I've yet to hear a single example from any of the Joe Klein wannabes posting here.
11.9.2005 9:46am
corngrower:
I dont get it. Greedy throws a little hissy fit that can not be backed up by fact. Has nothing to do with the facts in evidence, (the e-mail). The crime the White House committed, according to Greedy, is responding to an opinion proffered by an EX EX EX official of an Admistration no longer existing. Greedy, get back to the facts.

BTW

CrazyTrain; Just a point of fact for you. Wilson/Plame? you are wrong. An accusation was made. A grand jury serves for 18 months with the option to extend their service for 6 more months. So, after 2 years we have not a single charge of 'outing' anyone. You seem to work our legal system backword from what I learned in the 5th grade. The crime that is alleged is that, alleged. All that is fact in front of you proves, within the legal system, that no one was outed. But maybe you got facts that the Special Prosectuor has yet to uncover in his two years of digging. (BTW He sleeps in his office and dont do weekends) So you are wrong in your statement. Also. How do YOU, prove a negative?
11.9.2005 9:54am
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):
Guys, not to be difficult here, but you're getting way off into the weeds. The actual posting says that Joe Klein wrote a very thinly sourced (I'd say that "based on hearsay about an email the source says he didn't read" counts as weakly sourced) article that mischaracterizes the actual email. Volokh followed that with a recommendation to read the actual email and see if Klein's characterization was fair.

He didn't say anything about Joe Wilson, Richard Clarke, Richard Perle, Ted Kennedy, Valerie Plame, George Tenet, John Kennedy, Moe Howard, or Dean Martin.

Would it be too much to ask that you actually evaluate and respond to the actual posting?
11.9.2005 9:57am
SteveMG (mail):
Apparently you don't know how journalists work

Well, this is where I pull out my ace card. I'm a former reporter and yes I know how reporters write stories or, at least, should write them.

We don't just publish whatever comes across the desk (well, professional journalists don't). Admittedly, my background consisted of covering state and local politics and nothing on a national scale. But the same standards apply. I used to receive rumors or allegations every week about someone or something. Most of the whispers turned out to be mere gossip or garbage.

Dana Priest is a pretty darned good reporter. She's not going to run - and Leonard Downie isn't going to either - a story of this magnitude without thoroughly vetting it. And that takes more than 48 hours. Now, perhaps she was working on this story before; there have been rumors of secret detention facilities. But whatever the case, there is no doubt that Priest had more than one source for the report and that she had knowledge of the issue long before the Republican Senate meeting.

Sorry, there ain't no Santa Claus.
11.9.2005 10:00am
dk35 (mail):
I really don't see any problem with Klein's article. First of all, if that really is the email, they are clearly talking points. Some may agree with them, and some may disagree with them, in terms of content, but they are talking points in the sense that they are not meant as an engaged response to anyone, but rather are a recitation of George W.'s speechwriters' commentary supporting his Iraq policy. Secondly, Klein reported one of his source's opinion regarding what he viewed as the real message of the email. Klein did not seem to report this as fact. He simply wrote that he has a source, who is apparently a prominent republican, who had an opinion about how he viewed the email.

Volokh has demonstrated a pattern on this blog in taking statements out of context and interpreting them in just such a way as to assign the worst motives to all those who disagree with him (who usually seem to be those who don't take the Bush line on war and terrorism). While I am discouraged that a law professor can exhibit intellectual dishonesty in such a public forum, I am at least encouraged by the fact that Volokh is now directing his attacks at "prominent republicans" who at least seem to be developing the integrity to speak out, at least anonymously, to reporters like Klein regarding Bush's politics of personal destruction. It's about time that some Republicans start turing against Bush.
11.9.2005 10:11am
Henry Woodbury (mail):
"Politics of personal destruction" -- is this phrase even useful anymore? Anytime I see it in print I stop reading. Not because politicians of all sorts aren't in the business of personal destruction, but because such a cliche invariably leads to a tedious digression from anything interesting. Politicians play hardball. So surprising.
11.9.2005 10:18am
George Talbot (mail):
That's not the whole e-mail. It's an excerpt that only discusses the specific talking points. Anybody got the whole e-mail? Without seeing the whole e-mail, everyone's blathering anyway.
11.9.2005 10:31am
Mr. Mandias (mail) (www):
"Would it be too much to ask that you actually evaluate and respond to the actual posting?"

Hear, hear. And I don't mean "evaluate and respond" as in questioning Volokh's motives for posting the piece.
11.9.2005 11:02am
Elliot123 (mail):
The best thing about this whole drama is that people are excited about outing an undercover CIA employee when the CIA verified her employment over the phone to Novak.
11.9.2005 11:27am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Ras: Judge Posner seems to do fine. www.becker-posner-blog.com
11.9.2005 11:38am
Steve:
It's a bit tricky that RCP didn't quote the entire email. On the other hand, since the original source admits that he deleted it without reading it, it's probably unrealistic to assume there was a nasty smear somewhere in the balance of the email.

However, you'd think a Republican recipient wouldn't assume it was a smear and delete it in disgust without some kind of basis for that assumption, since it's not typical Republican behavior to assume the worst of the White House for no reason. The most likely answer is that this Republican had formed an opinion of standard White House tactics, based on prior experiences, and as it turns out this email didn't actually fit the standard mold of personal attacks.
11.9.2005 11:40am
Marcus1:
Corngrower,

>All that is fact in front of you proves, within the legal system, that no one was outed.<

Actually, Fitzgerald said the opposite in his press conference. "Valerie Wilson was a CIA officer. In July 2003, the fact that Valerie Wilson was a CIA officer was classified. Not only was it classified, but it was not widely known outside the intelligence community. ... Valerie Wilson's cover was blown in July 2003. ... In fact, Mr. Libby was the first official known to have told a reporter when he talked to Judith Miller in June of 2003 about Valerie Wilson."

>An accusation was made. A grand jury serves for 18 months with the option to extend their service for 6 more months. So, after 2 years we have not a single charge of 'outing' anyone.<

Fitzgerald said Libby is the first known to have leaked the information which blew her cover. He also said Libby had a discussion on what to tell the press about Plame on an airplane with Dick Cheney on the very day he leaked it. He also said, however, that because of the perjury and obstruction and justice, he couldn't yet prosecute the underlying crime. You call that a vindication? Are you serious?
11.9.2005 12:01pm
Michael B (mail):
But RealClearPolitics quotes what seems to be that very e-mail, and, in the words of Mickey Kaus, the e-mail "was a completely civil and substantive attempt to rebut the substance of Scowcroft's arguments.... [T]he sober, almost academic email ... ends with a vicious, inflammatory, "Let the debate proceed."

The Real Clear Politics link virtually does nothing more than reproduce the email, which vindicates the point made 100%.
11.9.2005 12:49pm
Michael B (mail):
11.9.2005 12:52pm
Robert M (mail):
As we do not know either' source who is telling the truth. RCP's version sound so rational it makes you wonder why it just wasn't published on the White House Web Site?
11.9.2005 1:14pm
Mr. Crabby Pants:
I think it should be obvious to anybody that if A says something and B says A is wrong, then B has in effect called A a liar and/or a fool. That's a smear. That's an attack on A's character. And that is precisely the kind of repulsive, nauseating, vicious attack in which the Bush administration has repeatedly indulged.

Now, if B actually goes so far as to attempt to demonstrate, by means of facts or logic or whatever, that A is lying, that's a far more odious version of the same offense. To slime A in that manner shows an arrogant and criminally reckless lack of regard for A's feelings. And we've seen that as well.

Would anybody of the administration's shills here be so shameless as to claim that the Bush administration has never disagreed with any of its critics? They probably would, but the record is clear: This administration has repeatedly and quite openly said that people who disagree with it, are in fact mistaken.

So much for democracy, eh?
11.9.2005 1:15pm
Marcus1:
Totally, Mr. Crabby Pants, it's pretty funny when people try to accuse Karl Rove of resorting to dirty politics. As if!
11.9.2005 1:40pm
Bob Bobstein (mail):
Prof. Volokh-- At least twice in the past week +, you have addressed the Plame-Libby business by linking to a weak case made by some third party about some peripheral issue (the other being some Huffington Post writer calling Rove a rat).

Your insight on the crux of the matter would be much more illuminating. It would be great to hear your take on the indictment or on one of the more thought-provoking points being made by critics and supporters of the administration.
11.9.2005 3:28pm
dc (mail):
Waiting for those who totally missed the point of Cecilius's post to jump in and agree with Mr. Crabby Pants . . .
11.9.2005 3:56pm
corngrower:
Marcus 1;

An accusation does not prove squat. Plame worked for CIA. Plames husband wrote an opinion piece that was printed in the NYT. I heard on the radio yesterday, a General, state, that in the green room at FOX, Joe Wilson told him personaly, that 'my wife works for the agency'. Way before the Novak article. So if your spouses Super Secret Cover was soooo important, Why does he submit an article to the NYT? I would never put my spouse in danger. You?

Just a point of fact. If Plames cover was blown...How come nobody is charged with that crime???? Best you have to this point is ...Gee.. my notes are confused...about somthing that is not a crime. I guess your sexual attraction to small rodents... is something you can prove wrong???
11.9.2005 3:57pm
Steve:
Has corngrower ever added anything of value to a VC discussion?
11.9.2005 4:07pm
Bob Bobstein (mail):
corngrower: (1) Not every bad thing that people do is illegal. Particularly regarding this kind of classified info-- those are hard laws to break (seen the Chappelle skit where the prospective juror explains what he'd need to see to convict R. Kelly?)

(2) The investigation is ongoing. I don't expect to see a charge directly about info-leaking, but we could.

(3) Let us stipulate that Joe Wilson hates the Bush administration, America, and his wife, and loves nothing more than lying about all 3. This does not affect the Libby indictment, or the issues raised by the indictment.

(4) It is widely accepted that Rove did some ethically questionable things in the 00 SC primaries, and had been fired from earlier campaigns for doing bad (but not illegal!) things. Google "Mark of Rove" for more info.
11.9.2005 4:12pm
EricH (mail):
I am always amused (okay, I have a low amusement threshold but my wife is working on it) by posters who lecture the operator of blog on what topic he should or shouldn't post on. Of course what the poster usually means is "How dare you present evidence that contradicts my views on the topic!"

If you don't like the topic posted, don't comment on it. If you don't like the selection of topics posted, as Prof. Volokh has said, there are thousands of other blogs out there.
11.9.2005 4:15pm
Bob Bobstein (mail):
EricH-- The problem is, Volokh isn't "presenting evidence" on the Libby issue-- he's addressing the issue, but only by engaging stupid comments made by administration critics. This blog and world would be made better if he addressed the central issue, and it makes sense to ask for his views on it.
11.9.2005 4:29pm
Marcus1:
Corngrower,

You hear one statement from someone on TV, and so you decide it is settled that Plame was not covert and therefore there was no crime or unethical behavior? If an indictment doesn't prove squat, how about the unsubstantiated statement of some guy on TV?

Besides that, though, it's completely irrelevant -- that is, unless you think that the Administration decided to leak the information based on the claims of this General who shows up on TV yesterday. Maybe Wilson told this guy, maybe he didn't. Maybe he told him because he's a General, who has access to classified information anyway. The important point for the Administration, though, is that if you're giving classified information to China, it doesn't make it any better if it later turns out that somebody else was giving them the same information.

Here, you don't know what Wilson said, but it's certainly no excuse for what the Administration did, unless they claim to have had some knowledge that Wilson was telling people anyway.

I'm curious whether you think the only scandals or unethical behavior from the Clinton administration relate to crimes for which he was convicted. To everything else, did you simply say "Hey, an accusation doesn't prove squat"?
11.9.2005 4:55pm
corngrower:
Marcus 1

I am making a point. Plame worked for the CIA...Lots of people knew she did. Joe Wilson shared the fact with lots of people. Joe Wilson went an a trip to Niger. Joe Wilson did not submit a report to the office of the Vice President of the United States of America. For some reason it was more efficient to deliver the report via the New York Times editorial page.

Clinton? Seems to me he was a sitting president that was impeached. If I remember..He can no longer practice Law, since his license was jerked by the bar. If memory serves, Clinton can never argue before SCOTUS. You want to compare Clinton with some underling for the VP? An Underling that messed up his notes and and fails in the area of total recall two years previous?
11.10.2005 9:15am
corngrower:
Bob bobstein;

Huh? So Our govt indicts people for doing 'bad things that are not illegal'? Gee, Now I feel better to know that the govt can spend two years and charge me with doing bad things. The Libby indicment...Ill bet you a steak dinner and drinks this never sees the inside of a court. After 2 years one indicment about bad notes about something that was never illegal.

You claim that the Prof does not give any evidence!? So? It is widely known tha Karl Rove did Bad things at some point of time? If the Prof Cant do it how do you claim stuff with no evidence
11.10.2005 9:30am
corngrower:
Steve

Got a point? Or is just safer to attack me and not post a comment that will just make you look silly?
11.10.2005 9:32am
alexandra (mail):
"politics of personal destruction" when aimed at most Republicans simply means "don't scare me with the facts"

That being said, it is my hope that the Republicans will engage in it more.
11.10.2005 9:43am
Bob Bobstein (mail):
corngrower: Sorry I wasn't clearer about the Libby indictment. He was indicted for things that are illegal-- perjury, obstruction of justice. He was not indicted for things he did that crept up to the edge of illegality, but are still not good things to do-- leaking confidential info. Similarly, if he had verbally advocated transferring nuclear technology to Iraq in 2001 so that we could later attack the country, that would be bad, but it might not be illegal.

As to the issue of the Libby indictment, I stick to the position that Prof. Volokh has avoided discussing facts relevant to the issue. He has instead linked to people making weak (or plain wrong) arguments that are tangential to the issue at hand. It would be like, during the Clinton impeachment trial, discussing the matter only by linking to writers claiming that Clinton murdered a policeman. The fact that Clinton did not murder a cop would not discredit everyone who wanted the president impeached, or add to anyone's understanding of the issues at hand.
11.10.2005 10:10am
corngrower:
Bob Bobstein;

Still dont get it. Your premise is that any citizen of the US can be called before a grand jury and over a two year period, can be indicted for contradicting your own testimony when there is no crime? WOW!! I Just got a whole new way to get thugs and druggies off the streets! What a country! Why do we spend so much time trying to convict criminals..when it is much faster to just toss their butts in jail for bad testimony?

You bring up weak evidence??? Gee?! Your evidence of a crime is, what???
11.10.2005 12:10pm
Bob Bobstein (mail):
corngrower: Let me try to explain. Imagine that a grand jury is investigating me to see if I broke a law that prohibits intentionally injuring another person. I tell the grand jury, under oath, two or three times, that I was in another state at the time. The grand jury determines that I was there and did injure that person; but that I did so negligently, not intentionally. So, I wind up charged with perjury, but not with the crime. Just because I didn't meet all the elements of the underlying crime doesn't mean that I get a free pass to commit crimes to obscure what really happened in the matter under investigation. Also, some have theorized (maybe at Andrew Sullivan's site?) that Fitzgerald feels that he has such a good case on the perjury and related charges that he didn't yet feel the need to charge on the leaking of classified info/agents' identity.

As to my evidence that the crime of perjury was committed, I recommend that you read the indictment (linked above). It has yet to be proven, but it appears that Fitzgerald will try to establish that Libby had obtained info on Plame's identity from a large number of government sources before he ever spoke to reporters about it; and that he was lying when he testified (1) that he learned the info from reporters, and (2) when he testified that he was surprised to hear that info from reporters.

I was initially skeptical of these charges too-- I don't remember who told me everything that I learned 2 years ago either. But the indictment levels the charge that Libby had been very concerned with Wilson and Plame, and had discussed it at length with gov't sources, and lied to the FBI and the grand jury about when and from whom he found out that info. I recommend reading the indictment-- it is very meticulous and detailed.

Maybe Fitzgerald is making up a bunch of the stuff in the indictment, but that seems unlikely.
11.10.2005 1:15pm
Marcus1:
Corngrower,

>Your premise is that any citizen of the US can be called before a grand jury and over a two year period, can be indicted for contradicting your own testimony when there is no crime? WOW!!<

Is that how you viewed Clinton's impeachment?

Libby didn't just contradict his own testimony, though; he lied about the subject of the investigation -- e.g., what information he had leaked, and from where he received the information. He claimed to be on the receiving end of information when actually he was the one disseminating it. Do you really believe Libby just had a bad memory, and wasn't trying to hide anything? You seem to be willing to assume anything in his defense. I thought conservatives took perjury seriously.

Also, did you miss the part where Fitzgerald said that it was the obstruction of justice and perjury that prevented him from making a determination yet on the underlying crime? Conservatives seem pretty uniformly to have missed that. The investigation into those crimes is still ongoing. Fitzgerald has not yet presented his evidence for the potential underlying crimes. That being the case, it seems pretty odd that when his first move is to come out and charge a guy with five counts of obstruction of justice and perjury, your response is, "Oh, well that proves nothing happened, nothing to see here, let's move along now."
11.10.2005 1:18pm
alexandra (mail):
hmmmmmmmmm, can someone get all those liberal quotes when Clinton was under investigation.......or his lies? This is hilarious. Clinton did lie about something that impacted a trial......remember Paula Jones? I believe she claimed he sexually harrassed her and perhaps knowing that there was a pattern just might be helpful to the case? Oh no, suddently sexual harrassment and rape are not concerns of the feminist lefties. BTW, you leftists, do you realize you've turned into a feminist party? Your actually being run by females? I like the manly party.


Besides, I hope there is a trial, and Libby fights. First, they will establish lawfully that Flame lady was NOT a covert agent and there was indeed no underlying crime. Then it will be established that indeed it was generally known that she was in the CIA and was responsible for Wilson's trip to NIger. What were his qualifications other than the CIA being assurred, he would lie? Why did'nt WIlson file an official report when all others are required to do so. That's easy to prove. Why was Wilson allowed to go public with all his investigative work in Niger when the CIA never even required a written report?
Did Libby lie about his discussion with Russert? Call Andrea Mitchell to the stand and put her interview on the screen where she does say it was common knowledge among reporters covering intelligence. hm, is there any connection between Andrea Mitchell and Russert? Do they work together? hm

Also, make very public the study that shows Wilson's story about Niger was basically one lie after another.
11.10.2005 2:31pm
Marcus1:
Alexandra,

I was responding to Corngrower's suggestion that Libby's only offense was his own varying recollections. To the contrary, I suggested his offense was lying about the underlying crime being investigated. In that way, I meant to suggest it was exactly the same thing Clinton did, not to minimize Clinton's perjury. I notice that you also take great offense at Clinton's actions, yet you seem to have little problem with Libby's very similar actions. What's that about?

How do are you so sure that Libby didn't commit a crime? All we know from the investigation so far is that Libby lied very blatantly under oath to cover something up. Now, that may well end up being all we ever know. In any case, I'm not sure how you can be so confident no crime was comitted.

I suspect most of the information you have received has come from right-wing sources. I don't think they're giving you the full picture here. Whether Wilson was a dirty liar or unqualified or his wife got him a job or even if he mentioned his wife's occupation at cocktail parties is irrelevant as to whether Libby and the White House acted unethically or comitted crimes. These are all irrelevant smears of the people involved. And if your answer is "Unethical? After 2 years? Big deal!" then I wonder what all your huffing and puffing at the Clinton administration comes from.
11.10.2005 4:17pm
Marcus1:
Alexandra,

I was responding to Corngrower's suggestion that Libby's only offense was his own varying recollections. To the contrary, I suggested his offense was lying about the underlying crime being investigated. In that way, I meant to suggest it was exactly the same thing Clinton did, not to minimize Clinton's perjury. I notice that you also take great offense at Clinton's actions, yet you seem to have little problem with Libby's very similar actions. What's that about?

How do are you so sure that Libby didn't commit a crime? All we know from the investigation so far is that Libby lied very blatantly under oath to cover something up. Now, that may well end up being all we ever know. In any case, I'm not sure how you can be so confident no crime was comitted.

I suspect most of the information you have received has come from right-wing sources. I don't think they're giving you the full picture here. Whether Wilson was a dirty liar or unqualified or his wife got him a job or even if he mentioned his wife's occupation at cocktail parties is irrelevant as to whether Libby and the White House acted unethically or comitted crimes. These are all irrelevant smears of the people involved. And if your answer is "Unethical? After 2 years? Big deal!" then I wonder what all your huffing and puffing at the Clinton administration comes from.
11.10.2005 4:17pm
alexandra (mail):
MY DEAR marcus,


Would you like to show me with FACTS where I went wrong?

Because everything I stated can be verified.........except for now the linking of Andrea Mitchell and Russert....which won't be difficult in a court of law.

This is why I would like to see an offensive trial rather than a defensive one

I'd also like to know whoever leaked the "secret prisons"


and if it were a Republican, I'd really like to get rid of the creep.

And , if you read my post "very slowly" you might absorb the fact that Russert denied bringing up Valerie's Flame's name. It was Libby. Thus indictment charge. I believe that it was common knowledge to reporters on his level , i'm in perfect agreement with Andrea Mitchell. See? I can agree with the liberal reporter once.

The so-called underlying crime, I believe, was simply if there was a purposeful move to OUT a covert agent. Are you trying to say she was a covert agent?

All you do is repeat yourself without really saying anything at all?

Again, the underlying crime in Clinton's case was NOT sex , or was it sex? with Monica, it was a pattern of harrassment , that, if established, would help Paula Jones in her civil case.

Do you see any difference here?

This is why I welcome a trial if the offense and not a defense position is taken.

Clinton? He's a huge (or rather small) joke.a pathetic dirty old man.I think what he did is alot more offensive than Libby.
11.10.2005 5:26pm
Marcus1:
Alexandra,

It's not known whether Valerie Wilson was "covert" under the applicable statute. It seems to depend on the details of her job -- possibly whether she served overseas in the last five years. I don't think that information is publicly known. We do know, however, that the information was classified, and that the CIA was taking affirmative steps to conceal it. Novak himself said the CIA told him not to publish it. Now, you can say the CIA was doing a bad job, but I'd say that's a pretty lame excuse.

Thus, to answer your question, I think there's a strong possibility she was "covert," but it's impossible to know since we don't know where she's been the last 5 years. Even if technically she wasn't covert under that statute, however, it was still a leak of classified information which Libby apparently thought he had to lie about.

Also, I don't know if you caught this tidbit from the indictment, regarding a conversation on June 19, 2003: "[Libby's Principal Deputy] asked Libby whether information about Wilson's trip could be shared with the press to rebut the allegations that the Vice President had sent Wilson. Libby responded that there would be complications at the CIA in disclosing that information publicly, and that he could not discuss the matter on a non-secure telephone line." That was
on June 19, after Libby had had at least 2 conversations, including with the Vice President, about Joseph and Valerie Wilson, over the last week. And of course, shortly thereafter, Libby did disclose CIA classified information to the press to rebut allegations that Cheney sent Wilson to Niger.

Also, there's another statute at issue -- the Espionage Act. As it states, "Whoever, lawfully having possession of... information relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States... willfully communicates...the same to any person not entitled to receive it..." is in violation of the law. Considering the above conversation, in which Libby recognized that the CIA may not want this information publicized, then moved to a secure phone-line, it doesn't seem to me to be much of a stretch.

If I have information that I know the CIA doesn't want me to disclose, I think I'm on notice that such disclosure could possibly damage the United States.

But again, at this point, we simply don't know what laws Libby or anyone else has broken. All we know is that Libby has lied about it under oath, McClellan has lied about it from the podium, and Bush has backpedaled on whether "anyone involved" will be fired.
11.10.2005 6:45pm
Mac (mail):
Re Crabbypants and Marcus
Dear Crabbypants, Very clever. You almost "got" me. It would seem you did get Marcus.
Marcus, it seems from your comment that you agreed with Crabbypants. Very nice. You are a member of a covert group who is trying to overthrow the governments of the world and reinstall Ceaser as Emperor of the World. Tut,tut, don't disagree with me. You would hurt my feelings and be engaging in the infamous "politics of personal destruction". Yes, you would. You obviously think that the recipient of a negative comment MUST NOT contradict any statement anyone makes or the person will be engaging in the POPD. Evidently, there is no greater sin. Marcus, you just might want to read Crabbypants post again and then reevaluate your ability to think in a rational manner.
11.10.2005 8:51pm
Buck Turgidson (mail):
It's not known whether Valerie Wilson was "covert" under the applicable statute.

Actually, it's been made abundantly clear by the CIA, both in seeking the investigation and in what they said during the investigation. She was moving from NOC to official cover which takes a few years. She was technically employed by a cover company--another "cover" that was blown in the process. There is no question of her "cover", but, yes, there is a question whether the statute was applicable--by a matter of days. What was more in question was the built-in statute of limitations, since the statute specifically refers to working oversees. It seems that she's been working domestically for a bit more than five years, which would have taken her outside the limits. BUT, she HAS been abroad since then as part of her work, which brings into question what precisely was meant by "working abroad". So it is certainly a chargeable offense, but no prosecutor would go ahead with an indictment on the charge unless he had a clear idea of the language of the statute that he could argue. Fitzgerald said as much--she was outed and her COVER was blown. I doubt the underlying charge will be made, but I would expect at least one other indictment in a few months, just in time for everyone to have forgotten about the case, since Americans have such a poor political memory. Doesn't matter--Bush and his staff are a giant albatross. What was a plus for Martinez last year, would have sunk his candidacy today. Republican candidates are rushing like mad to disavow any connections to the bumbling idiots since they think now that Bush sank Kilgore. Fox reports approval rate at 36%. Others have pegged it at 34, 35 and 38. The Ghost of Nixon past is going to visit the White House this Christmas. Personally, I think it's going to be the Ghost of Buchanan future that awaits W. The lowest rated president of all times finally has some competition!
11.10.2005 9:53pm
alexandra (mail):
Exactly!!

Your too funny..............again, you say Libby lied?
Again, he is charged with purjury....but we don't know if he is guilty, do we?
Again, try just reading my posts until you understand them. With just a little effort, or maybe in your case alot, you should be able to comprehend some basic facts.
You have none.
11.10.2005 9:55pm
Buck Turgidson (mail):
Alexandra,
It seems that you are the one completely without facts. Andrea Mitchell had nothing to do with ensnaring Libby in his own lies. In fact, he would have likely got away with them, except for the little fact that jounalists tend to keep notes (and, in Russert's case, recordings) of their conversations with the douchebag. You, on the other hand, don't seem to be able to get any facts straight--not even the name of the central figure in this investigation. If you want to delude yourself, be my guest! Just don't do it at our expence.

Of all the White House talking points against Wilson, the only one that even marginally panned out is the one that has been in the news lately for an entirely different reason--the Niger forgeries. Wilson would have had no reason or ability to have seen the forged documents and he corrected that error. All other accusations of his alleged lies turned out to be complete and utter falsehoods. It was a classic smear campaign, worthy of Uncle Joe, your hero. The White House propaganda machine has a lot more in common with Mao and Stalin than it does with Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt.

Now, to the rest of the bunch who are preoccupied with the original subject of the post. We simply can have no idea whether the two posts in question refer to the same email. There seem to have been several commentaries circulating concerning Scowcroft and we don't know if the one deleted by the "prominent Republican" is the same email that was posted by RCP. Could they have been the same? Absolutely! Will we ever know? Not likely. My problem with Eugene's hissy fit over this (and the term "hissy fit" applies far more accurately to the original post than to Greedy Clerk's comment) is not that he presents an illogical or inherently inconsistent argument. Modifying Greedy Clerk's question, I would ask, where was he when the smears were quite real? Did he defend the people who were being smeared? Did he analyze the facts and stood up to the liars? No, he did not. So why do so now? The fact that the roles appear (to him) to have been reversed is what suggests an unjustifiable bias, not the content of the post itself.

Has Eugene followed Wonkette, Language Log and Al Franken in revealing an Orwellian attempt by the White House to alter transcripts of Snotty Scotty's press conference where his comment, "That's accurate," was transcribed by the White House as, "I don't think that's accurate." Two other transcription services made an accurate transcription and White House's own video is quite unambiguous. Yet, WH pressured the Congressional Quarterly and the Federal News Service to revise their transcripts, which, to their credit, they refused to do. Why lie when the evidence is so obvious? Why not just say that Snotty misspoke? How stupid do they think we are? And why hasn't Eugene gone into a tizzy over this? If his only goal is to clear the record, would he not demand accuracy in this case as well?

In case you are wondering why I am asking this question here, consider the question that Snotty's remark was addressing:

Q Whether there's a question of legality, we know for a fact that there was involvement. We know that Karl Rove, based on what he and his lawyer have said, did have a conversation about somebody who Patrick Fitzgerald said was a covert officer of the Central Intelligence Agency. We know that Scooter Libby also had conversations.
11.11.2005 2:55am
Marcus1:
Mac,

I suppose this is the result when one tries to satirize satire. I was not agreeing with Crabby Pants, nor his underlying message that all the Bush administration does is engage in fair discussion of the issues with its opponents. His characterization of Karl Rove and Co.'s MO as honest "disagreement" is absurd, and has nothing to do with why liberals criticize him.
11.11.2005 9:22am
corngrower:
Huh? Plame is not undercover. If she were, her husband would not be writing editorials to the NYT. Lies? Gee, think? Plame was so undercover she drove herself into the CIA complex everday, and her very concerned husband told people that his wife worked for the agency. Got a good reason Joe Wilson was not asked to testify? Why would the most tenatious prosecuter on this planet, not interview the agreived party?

I am sure we are about to start throwing reporters in jail for 'outing' the 'covert prisons'. This is much ado about nothing. Joe Wilson got a vacation to Niger to 'investigate' something at the behest of the Office of the Vice President. Just seems Joe is a little slow on his paper work, since he never filed a report to the Office of the Vice President. (I guess getting an article published in the NYT was priority)

Someone, anyone, please, tell me why a spouse of a super duper top secret black operative would call attention to themself?
11.11.2005 9:40am
Marcus1:
Alexandra,

Actually, we pretty much know he's guilty. The evidence is in the indictment. So far, Libby's excuse has been faulty memory, not that the indictment is incorrect. But if you look at the indictment, faulty memory isn't a remotely credible or plausible excuse. The guy had multiple conversations with high up people (fact), requested information from high up people (fact), discussed the information more with high up people (fact), talked about the problems in disclosing the information (fact), then went to reporters with the information (fact), and then claims it was the reporters who gave him the information? (Fact, that he said that. Not likely that it actually happened)

I don't know if O.J Simpson killed his wife, but I'm pretty sure Scooter Libby lied when he said he learned about Valerie Wilson from reporters.
11.11.2005 9:44am
Marcus1:
Corngrower,

It's been suggested that this has actually been done intentionally, to use the wives of diplomats and such as spies. This gives them an excuse to do their traveling, without the suspicion that would result if your average woman is making repeated trips to various out-of-the-way countries. And if indeed this was an official policy, Libby and co. just killed it.

Regardless, though, all these little conspiracy theories are just distractions from what the Administration actually did. Does a person get to decide on his own whether the CIA is doing a good enough job protecting information? The fact is that the CIA has said she was under cover, and Fitzgerald said that "her cover was blown" by this leak.

The fact that conservatives keep trying to change the subject to calling Joe Wilson a liar shows that they have no response to the underlying crime. It's like if you accused me of murder, and I responded, "Seriously, though, the guy was a jerk!"
11.11.2005 10:11am
Michael B (mail):
Plame, Wilson, CIA, Reuel Marc Gerecht lends perspective.
11.11.2005 10:18am
alexandra (mail):
What can one say to people who use Al Frankin as a source and no doubt are total fans of Air America?
I rest my case until the conclusion of the trial
11.11.2005 11:03am
Buck Turgidson (mail):
What can one say to people who use Al Frankin as a source and no doubt are total fans of Air America?


Alexandra, you seem to have a penchant for misspelling names even when they are of primary importance. In this case, however, Al Franken has absolutely nothing to do with the issue. The "source" in this case is the White House. I suppose, one could make the same argument and dismiss anything that is based on White House as a source, which appears to be exactly what the "prominent Republican" in question did.

All that aside, however, the evidence is objective. Al Franken is completely irrelevant to the facts and the facts are up on the White House site (including the video). Language Log has all the links, in case you want to check them out for yourself.

I rest my case until the conclusion of the trial


In that case, you stand convicted of reckless disregard for facts.
11.11.2005 11:49am
corngrower:
Marcus

What are you TRYING to say? Plame is under 'deep cover' so hubby goes to Niger on a mission no one sent him on, hubby returns from his mission that no one sent him on, then writes a piece for the NYT about the mission he went on that no one asked him to do. The spouse is so at risk that hubby is writing op eds about the terrible job the admistration is doing? Get a clue!! Joe dont give a shit about his wifes cover. Else he would not have done the trip, at the very least, wrote an op ed piece at the worst.

Oh! Gee! It has been suggested that spouses of diplomats are used as spooks>>>>? Turn that around for just a brief respite into sanity. "A diplomate is comming into our country with a spouse. think we should keep an eye on the spouse?"If this is the best logic you got, give up. I'll say it in plain language for you. The spouse of a diplomat is the worst 'super duper,under cover, black operative every conceived.
11.11.2005 12:06pm
alexandra (mail):
Obviously, the facts are in dispute............continue enjoying Air America
11.11.2005 12:16pm
Buck Turgidson (mail):
Marcus, are you talking to me? Your sarcasm is misplaced. The only ones suggesting that Wilson went on a mission that no one sent him on are either people who just want to be rid of this pesky little diplomatic irritant or those who believe them blindly and unquestioningly. I don't think you are the former and I didn't expect you to be the latter. I stand corrected.

This has been done on other threads on this blog so many times, you should be able to recite it by now. But, let's review the timeline again.

There is rumor/reports of intelligence/perhaps actual intelligence of Iraq trying to make a purchase of uranium from Niger. The actual papers are not available, but, for some reason "transcripts" of the papers are. [I think that alone is suspicious, but I'm not an intelligence analyst.] Cheney and his "cabal" are suspicious and want the report investigated. They tell the CIA that someone should go to Africa on a fact-finding mission. They don't suggest any names or the specific capacity of the person to be sent (overt/covert, diplomatic/business/intelligence). The CIA looks around and picks either one or several names with experience in the region (we don't know who else, if anyone was considered for the mission). When Wilson's name comes up, the mission handlers consider three factors in his favor--command of French, familiarity with the region (ambassadorship in Gabon and other ties), familiarity with Iraq (de facto ambassador in Baghdad in 1991). We don't know whether marriage to an agent was considered as well, nor is it particularly relevant because of the next step. He IS married to an agent. So they ask the agent 1) is he qualified? 2) would he do it? The answers apparently were affirmative. Wilson is asked--by people who handle the mission, which does not include Valerie Plame--and he agrees to go. A meeting is scheduled to introduce him to the group and familiarize him with the facts of the case. At the meeting, the wife is invited to present her husband to the group, at which point she leaves the room and does not participate in the meeting. Wilson goes to Niger. He finds no evidence that any specific trade talks have taken place. He finds some discrepancies in the facts that he was presented with to begin with (such as references to ministers who have not been in power for a decade), but also finds no specific evidence that Iraq did not ask for Uranium other than assurances of the Nigerien officials. [One question here would be how do you prove a negative?] He comes home and reports to the group. The group, not Wilson summarizes the issues and presents them to the White House. The report may or may not have been read by Cheney, but it certainly reached lower level people both in the White House and in the State Department. We have no idea what communications occurred up the chain of command.
Meanwhile, the Italians share exactly the same information with British intelligence. The Brits contact either CIA directly or others before the information gets to the CIA. At this point, the White House treats this as an independent confirmation of the earlier report, while the CIA realizes that it was exactly the same information from the same source as the one they received earlier. They get more suspicious because of the duplication, not less. The CIA suggests--then insists--that the information is not verifiable and there is a strong suspicion that it is ficticious/fabricated. The administration insists on using the "evidence". CIA continues to object, but, apparently, does not object strenuously enough to prevent the language from being included in a Presidential speech. [There is some debate here whether Tenet's falling on his sword was based on facts or if he was simply protecting the White House from taking responsibility. Given past record--e.g., Casey being blamed for Iran-Contra--I'd say it's the latter.]
Bush gives the speech despite the objections. Wilson is incredulous. The information contradicts his findings and the information that he had learned since the trip. He makes inquiries. CIA people tell him that this was a political decision. He prods the White House flunkies, but is ignored. He goes to reporters.
Wilson tells them that Cheney wanted Niger investigated and that CIA sent him. He tells them that the documents are forged--he fails to tell them that he did not see the documents, but he corrects the misstatement when prodded. [Both reporters confirmed this version of events soon after they occurred, although one of them made a more ambiguous statement recently.] The information and the description are specific enough that White House is concerned. They investigate the "leak" and try to find out who the leaker was. This is right after the speech, not in June or July. Someone puts two and two together and fingers Wilson. We don't know if it was the connection made from the report filed earlier by the CIA or some other report or directly from Tenet. We do know that Cheney met with Tenet on the subject, but we do not know if it was before or after Cheney learned Wilson's name. We also know that they met later, when Cheney claimed [to Fitzgerald] that Tenet told him about Wilson's wife and her employment at the CIA. More recently Tenet has denied this version of the story.
Meanwhile, Wilson raises the stakes. He goes directly to the papers and other outlets and makes open statements, eventually penning an OpEd for NYT. Cheney goes ballistic and his staff with him. The staff starts leaking information to reporters that Wilson's claims are unreliable and that he's a Democrat (despite the fact that most of Wilson's diplomatic work has been done under Republican watch). Powell's staff receives another report (early June) that outlines the chain of events behind Wilson's report. Plame is mentioned in a short passage specifically marked "Secret". The report is seen by a number of people, not all of whom are cleared for it. Libby becomes obsessed with Wilson. Two weeks later he meets with Judy Miller and talks about Wilson and his wife with her. Most of the comments are traditional disinformation, including the claim that Wilson's trip was a boondoggle set up by his wife. It would be impossible to give credibility to this particular angle without revealing that Wilson's wife works for the CIA. Libby and the rest of the cabal either don't know or don't care about her exact status. Eventually the same information is leaked by several White House staffers to a number of reporters most of whom take the bait, but refuse to print the story without more direct confirmation from non-White-House sources. Bob Novak is not limited by such journalistic standards. [He has an additional benefit of being an idiot.] Plame's status as a CIA employee is revealed. Novak uses the term "agent" that usually--and in his own writing--is reserved for covert agents. CIA flips the lid. After a brief internal investigation, they refer the matter to the Justice Dept claiming that a crime has clearly been committed and a covert agent has been outed. Justice Department sits on the investigation while the White House spins the story. When the conflict of interest becomes too obvious to contain, Ashcroft steps aside and an independent (not "special") prosecutor is appointed for the case. This is how we got here.
Meanwhile, Plame was a NOC in Africa working on WMDs. When Aldrich Ames was caught, she was recalled because it was suspected that her cover was compromised--the key word here is "suspected". The recall was a risk management procedure, not an admission of blown cover. She became a covert agent based at the headquarters. Several former agents stated that she was in the process of being converted from a NOC--non-official cover--to official cover. Both are, by definition, covert positions. She has been stateside slightly over 5 years when the breach occurred, but she has been out of the country on a number of missions in the interim. There is some question whether these missions count toward the statutory requirement of "working abroad" for the purpose of prosecuting the felony in question. There is no question as to her status, except in the minds of the echo chamber (which is rapidly shrinking).

Any more facts you would like to discuss?
11.11.2005 2:02pm
Marcus1:
Corngrower,

So this is your argument, as I understand: It was ok for Libby to tell the press that Valerie Wilson worked for the CIA, because the CIA was doing a bad job of concealing it.

Then why did the White House feel the need to lie about its involvement? And why is that ok?

Also, although it's off topic, why do you think nobody sent Joe Wilson to Niger? The CIA claims they did. Are they lying? Where do you get your information?
11.11.2005 2:04pm
Marcus1:
Buck,

No, there was some confusion -- I don't think I've addressed you. There was a Mac that made a comment calling me an idiot who I adressed. I think you and I have been in agreement all along -- I've actually enjoyed reading your comments.
11.11.2005 2:09pm
corngrower:
Marcus1

The CIA was not doing a bad job of concealing Plames ID, because, there was nothing to conceal. That is the simple fact. Joe Dont give a shit about his wife's super duper, under the radar, black,covert, spy, spook, status. Because she was not.

Funny! Why do I think anyone sent Joe to Niger? Your asking a real question? So,,, no one sent Joe? I got a quote from a person by the name of,,,,I'll get it,,,here it is Joe Wilson Says he went to Niger at the request of the office of the Vice President. So is Joe lying about who sent him? Or did he just take off on this jaunt all by his lonesome? There is lying going on. Joe Wilson is at the bottom of that pyramid
11.11.2005 3:40pm
Marcus1:
Corngrower,

In his conference, Fitzgerald stated "Valerie Wilson was a CIA officer. In July 2003, the fact that Valerie Wilson was a CIA officer was classified. Not only was it classified, but it was not widely known outside the intelligence community." That's not true? Again, I ask, then why did the Administration feel it needed to lie about it?

On your second point, my understanding is that the Vice President's office asked the CIA about the Niger uranium claims, and the CIA sent Wilson. I believe that's all Wilson said. But you think Wilson just went on his own? And you think this matters why?

You seem to be half-joking, half serious. I'm not sure you've really decided. Do you really believe Wilson is the sole liar here, and everything the administration has said is true? Do you really believe the administration has been totally upright here all along? I get the feeling more that you really don't care who is telling the truth, but that you're simply going to defend the administration for anything they say or do, and attack Joe Wilson with anything you get from any source, regardless its credibility or relevance.

I know it's fun to be partisan, but I mean, really...
11.11.2005 4:49pm
corngrower:
Marcus 1

The facts. Seems Fitzgerald knows more than you. So if the facts do not backup the action taken to this point,,, maybe YOU should prosecute this case. Your 'understanding' that The VP Office asked for info flies in the face of the Facts..Such as, write me a report.

Fact,,, No indicment for outing a spook. thats it. A Fact, no Indicment of outing a spook. Do I have to say it again?

No. Me? I would be happy to have the accuser say anything that is the 'truth'. To this point we have Joe Wilson saying he was sent by the office of the VP. But...for some reason did not see the need to file a report. Fact, Valarie Plame Recomended her husband for this task, that no one asked for. Fact, Joe Wilson is so concerned about his wife's life, that he goes to Niger and then submits his report to the NYT.

Joking? Not me. Spooks need every special precaution that is availible. But your spouse should be the first to step up and NOT, Be writing Editorls to the NYT!! Want to be covert? Have your spouses shut the hell up-
11.11.2005 5:19pm
Buck Turgidson (mail):
Sorry, Marcus! I mistook Corngrower's first line for your signature. And he mistook the voices in his head for facts.

Yes, Marcus, we agree on this issue. That's why I was puzzled by what I thought was your post. Note that Corngrower ignored every single confirmed fact (and, yes, there is documented evidence on every point that I listed in the timeline, except the comments I added in brackets as a personal opinion) that we've listed and "refuted" it with a fabrication of his own. There is not much one can say to a guy who's been battling reality all his life and thinks he's winning. Hey, Corngrower! Do you hear the crickets? How's the tin-foil hat fitting on your head?

I've stated the case. Reasonable people will draw their own conclusions. But the echo chamber will go on as if nothing happens. I see no point in arguing with them over facts, since they can't tell the difference between the real and the imaginary (or, for the most part, the fabricated).
11.11.2005 7:11pm
Michael B (mail):
One thing, among many, which is telling herein is the subject of the original post needed to be derailed onto a variety of other far more ambiguous and unresolved subjects. The subject of the original post, here at Real Clear Politics, was highly specific and additionally was supported with specific evidence.
11.12.2005 2:04pm
Marcus1:
Michael B,

I'm not sure the subject was derailed. I think it pretty much dried up on its own, while the Plame discussion, which at its heart is highly related, continued on its own.

As far as the original subject, none of the conservatives were actually willing to take the position that Bush does not engage in the politics of personal destruction, so I think that kind of limited the discussion. The best they could do was indirect sarcasm, which was addressed well enough.
11.12.2005 6:27pm