Reasonably Ascertainable Reality

Thoughts and musings on current events and other random occurrences.

Location: South Jersey, United States

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Out of Focus

Powerline, like everyone else, has been commenting on the Plame/Rove affair. Today they take their well-trained radar and focus it where the story really is...the New York Times editorial page.

But the Plame "leak" is different, somehow:

But it is something else entirely when officials peddle disinformation
for propaganda purposes or to harm a political adversary.

Yes, we certainly agree with that. That's why our opinion of Joe
Wilson is so low. He leaked the contents of his own report to the CIA--in the
pages of the New York Times!--only he lied about his own report. He "peddled
disinformation," falsely claiming to have found no evidence of an Iraqi effort
to buy uranium from Niger, in order to "harm a political adversary," President
Bush. The Times didn't mind that particular disinformation, however, since it
fit the paper's political agenda. In fact, the Times has never issued a
correction of the misstatements in Wilson's op-ed. On the contrary, today's
editorial links to Wilson's 2003 piece and repeats its central allegations,
without even mentioning that Wilson's op-ed has been found to be fraudulent by
the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee!

I'm not going to get into the argument about whether the claims above are right or wrong, because to take the bait and talk about Joe Wilson's credibility is not the issue in this investigation. That is what Powerline is missing. Its not a crime to publish an op-ed piece, even if it is chock full o' lies. It is a crime however to expose an undercover CIA agent. But Powerline has this covered too:

In all of the liberal huffing and puffing over the supposed "outing" of Valerie
Plame--as though she might be in danger as she drove to and from her desk job in
Langley, and as though she hadn't posed for a photo shoot in Vanity Fair,
dressed up as a spy...

Oh, that old canard. You see, Powerline, Tucker Carlson and other conservative outlets feel as though they have a handle on Plame's CIA status. Not only that, they feel that have a better handle on Plame's CIA status then say, the CIA. As I stated before, the CIA referred the case to the Justice Department for investigation. A crime is only possible if Plame was undercover. If she wasn't, there is nothing to refer.

But don't take my word for it. How about the word of a retired CIA officer and classmate of Plame's:

Valerie Plame was a classmate of mine from the day she started with the CIA. I entered on duty at the CIA in September 1985. All of my classmates were undercover--in other words, we told our family and friends that we were working for other overt U.S. Government agencies. We had official cover. That means we had a black passport--i.e., a diplomatic passport. If we were caught overseas engaged in espionage activity the black passport was a get out of jail free card. A few of my classmates, and Valerie was one of these, became a non-official cover officer. That meant she agreed to operate overseas without the protection of a diplomatic passport. If caught in that status she would have been executed.

You see, at issue here is not the credibility of Joe Wilson. It is not whether Joe Wilson was sent to Niger by his wife. It is not whether Joe Wilson lied in his op-ed piece. It is whether or not a person exposed an undercover CIA agent. You could add 'in efforts to discredit Joe Wilson' or 'to correct an untruthful story', but those things are not relavent at all to the investigation.

Even without criminal charges, if it turns out that someone, Rove or not, did expose an undercover agent, there should be consequences. One wonders whether Republicans actually know when to use the word 'treasonous'.

UPDATE: Bush has no comment. I'm fine with that. I wish he wold have stuck to that theme since the beginning since now it looks a bit hypocritical, but he's right. He should wait until the investigation is complete until commenting. Why comment on something that isn't known at this point.


Blogger scott said...

But Rove did not "out" Valerie Plame. No matter how you on the other side try to spin it, he did not break the law.

Again, why is Judith Miller still in jail? Her source was not Karl Rove or else she'd be out by now. Who was her source? Perhaps Joe Wilson?.

10:27 AM  
Blogger Katinula said...

How do you know it wasn't Rove? Do you know something from Fitzgerald that no one else does? Whoever it was, there should be consequences, even if it was a secret mastermind plan by Joe Wilson. The point is, the truthfulness of Joe Wilson's op-ed is not the point of the investigation, no matter how much time conservatives spend trying to make it so, or liberals spend trying to defend it.
I'd be hard pressed to believe Judith Miller is protecting Joe Wilson, but anything is possible I suppose.

10:44 AM  
Blogger Dave Justus said...

From what I have read, Valerie Plame being an employee of the CIA was fairly common knowledge among the Washington DC elite. Many Politicians and Journalists know of this.

If Rove knew she worked for the CIA, but not that she was covert he didn't do anything wrong. Even if he knew she was covert, but didn't get that knowledge from classified documents he didn't do anything illegal.

Plame's status as an employee of the CIA did in fact turn out to be relevant, as despite initial denials it has come out that she did in fact get Joe Wilson the 'mission' to Niger.

Everything Rove claimed to Matt Cooper turned out to be strictly true. Wilson was sent to Niger through nepotism at the CIA and he did in fact misrepresent his own findings. This was relevant information to the national debate on the subject, and certainly I think it is good that the information has come out. If Plame had not been covert, there would be no issue here at all.

Of course Plame was covert. If Rove knew that (and Cooper did not) then what he did was wrong.

11:19 AM  
Blogger Katinula said...

I have also read that is was common knowledge, however I'm not sure how much stock I put in that. If the CIA referred the case, there is some arguement that she was indeed covert. Hopefully the outcome of the investigation will clear that up.
As for nepotism, yes she apparently recommended him for the job, however I haven't read any claims saying he wasn't qualified due to his contacts in Africa, so I'm not sure how germane to the argument that really is.
Also, if whoever 'outed' her was doing to correct a falsehood, why not just correct a falsehood, how does outing her accomplish that?
The question I still can't seem to get my head around is why the center of the investigation is around Novak. If everyone knew and Novak published, maybe he should be in jail. Any help on why he seems to not be a focus??

11:35 AM  
Blogger Horatio said...

Great post, Katinula. I agree that we shouldn't get wrapped up debating the peripherals of this issue. There's only one salient fact: that someone with clearance broke the law.

1:21 PM  
Blogger scott said...

Wrong, Horatio. There was no law broken given the facts we know. Rove did not not name Valerie Plame, he referred to Wilson's wife.

Rove said that his correpondence with reporters could be released and it kept Cooper out of jail. Why would Miller be in jail if it was Rove? It just doesn't make sense.

The WSJ breaks it down pretty clearly:

3:19 PM  
Blogger Katinula said...

I don't know Scott, if you are going to use 'Rove didn't name Valerie Plame, but Wilson's wife', I think you are on pretty thin ice there. Who Joe Wilson's wife is was not a secret, what she did however, most likely was.
Also, I think we can all agree that we don't know yet if a crime has been committed, however to state that you do know that a crime hasn't been committed is a little premature I think.
For the WSJ to call Rove a 'whistleblower' is more than a little ridiculous.

8:04 PM  
Blogger Dave Justus said...

Obviously someone revealed Plame was covert, but that doesn't mean a law was broken.

For example, while it might be foolish, it wouldn't be illegal for Plame to reveal that herself. I am not making an accusation, simply pointing that out.

From what I can tell, unless something a lot more explosive is revealed, Rove didn't break any laws.

Novak isn't the subject of the investigation because he didn't break any laws either. Unless he got his information on Plame from classified documents (which he didn't because he isn't authorized to see them) he didn't break the Security Act that makes revealing the identity of a covert agent a crime. Since he appears to have cooperated with investigators, it doesn't seem like any sort of perjury would apply either.

10:38 AM  
Blogger Katinula said...

I didn't mean to imply that I thought Novak should be the focus of the investigation..just wondering why he isn't getting the Miller/Cooper treatment, i.e. why HIS source isn't being investigated. Although yesterday I read that he was cooperating with the grand jury (no story details) so maybe its just not that big of a story since he's cooperating.

12:09 PM  
Blogger Dave Justus said...

Several reports have been questioned and revealed their sources. Miller and Cooper were unique in not being willing to give them up, with Millar now being the sole hold-out as far as I know.

1:33 PM  

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