Betray the Country In Order to Save It

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In his National Post column, Matt Welch, the only real American left, is mad as hell about Plamegate.

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  1. Goldberg’s aside was far from irrelevant, Welchster — From 1970-now, to the average liberal Democrat, the CIA has been at best incompetent (e.g., in not “preventing” 9/11) to at worst malevolent, (i.e., Chile and Nicaragua)

    All of a sudden there’s this massive rending of garments on the left over Valerie ****ing Plame??? And you have the Tom Oliphants of the world worried about protecting CIA secrecy? Hmm…is it because this could be whipped up to maximium political frothiness to damage Bush?

    Just because NR is partisan does not mean they’re not intellectually serious. Is Goldberg’s point of view more or less relevant than yours in today’s Washington, Welchie???

    If I was really mean I would suggest perhaps Reason can publish a volume of libertarian Presidential speeches when a libertarian is elected Presid…

  2. Jayson — The “irrelevant” comment referred specifically and only to his writing about Wilson. There is no doubt, in my mind at least, that Jonah is far more relevant in Washington today than I will ever be.

    I see quite literally zero relevant connection to the Democrats’ alleged historical attitude toward the CIA, and the reputed fact that two senior administration officials outed a CIA official for political reasons. It’s loosely akin to someone reacting to Bush’s request for $87 billion by saying “Oh, so NOW Republicans are into nation-building, huh!” Fun for some, I guess, but quite secondary to the matter under discussion.

  3. Gilligan, you’d better bring up the Civil War or Bill Clinton’s penis, because Phillip Agee’s name has been all over the web for a week, and people still aren’t distracted.

    The White House is alleged to have blown the cover of a covert CIA employee in order to punish her husband for doing his job, and you’re talking about…what was it again? Cat food or something?

  4. Pardon me for butting it, but it was Mr. Wilson who first took matters public when he wrote a piece for the NY Times on his CIA mission to Africa. I don’t know whether his operation was supposed to be classified, but even if not it was spectacularly irresponsible to go public with it the way he did. It exposed his wife to potential risk, assuming they are both telling the truth, because she was the reason he was selected to go on the assignment. I am flabbergasted than anyone is taking this man’s statements at face value.

    As to the motive of the leaker, Wilson’s allegations also make no sense. Far more likely is what Novak originally reported, that whoever told him about Plame was trying to explain why the unlikely Wilson was chosen for the assignment in the first place. I am not going to defend the illegal leaking of the name of a covert agent — assuming that happened here, which has yet to be demonstrated — because the government has a burden that a private citizen, even a ranting moron like Wilson, does not have.

    That is, Wilson betrayed his trust by going public with his CIA assignment. Not being a government employee at the time, he apparently violated no law in doing so. The government can’t violate a law to rectify the situation, though you might at least try to understand why someone apparently thought he needed to.

  5. Let’s assume that John is right. The leaker didn’t blow a CIA employee’s cover for crass political reasons, but because he saw himself as serving a higher good.

    Meaning he acted like Philby. Or Agee.

  6. John — Interesting point, but again, I don’t see the immediate relevance to the reputed fact of administration officials outing his wife. If what he did was illegal, the Justice Dept. should have just prosecuted him outright; if it (or his story) was just wrong, they should have challenged it on its merits, and left his wife clean out of it.

  7. Matt:

    I don’t believe there is a law that prevents a former CIA asset, now a private citizen, from fessing up to his CIA assignments. I am quite willing to be corrected. But if no law, then no prosecution. Wilson’s decision to out himself — and thus, obviously, risk outing his wife — wasn’t illegal but it was unconscionable. And not just for personal reasons. The next time a former ambassador shows up in a foreign land asking sensitive questions, will he be assumed a CIA operative and treated accordingly?

    On the facts of Wilson’s visit to Niger, the administration did rebut his comments. Indeed, I think his “investigation” was revealed to be laughable, though that doesn’t mean that the Iraqis did, in fact, try to get the material there. But the interview with Novak was apparently designed to address at least one specific point: why did the CIA detail this guy to Niger in the first place? I think that is a very relevant question, speaking to his credibility and to the credibility of the investigation. The implication that Novak’s source was offering was that the CIA, already predisposed to dismissing the reports about the Iraqi-African foray, had found an “independent” person to corroborate the agency’s preconceived notion.

    Again, I’m not going to defend the leak or the leaker. I can see why the source thought the information was relevant and why he (or she) thought it important as part of the rebuttal of the Wilson statement. But the information should still not have been shared with Novak — assuming, of course, that Plame was covered by the statute.

  8. The Civil War….Bill Clinton’s junk….Joe, I’m happy to oblige.

    Matt, thanks for your reply. If Wilson’s public charges of a criminal conspiracy are proven out, then I’m right there with you.

    I disagree with the second half of your article, i.e., that even if the reputed violations are minor, the conduct and attitude of the Bushies mean we have another “imperial presidency.”

  9. If George W. Bush bit off Vladimir Putin’s thumb on live television, John would have some indignant defense of the action ready to post on Hit & Run.

  10. “…more evidence of the Bush administration’s most alarming pathologies. These are people who all too frequently confuse themselves with the U.S. government, see their enormous power as a tempting means to an end, and treat their critics like enemies of the state.”

    Indeed, I’m hard pressed to think of an administration in the past 215 years that couldn’t have the same accusations leveled at it.

    Well, maybe not the Carter administration, but that’s about it…

  11. John Hood wrote –
    “Wilson’s decision to out himself — and thus, obviously, risk outing his wife — wasn’t illegal but it was unconscionable.”

    It was not an “obvious” risk at all.

  12. John Hood said ?I don’t believe there is a law that prevents a former CIA asset, now a private citizen, from fessing up to his CIA assignments. I am quite willing to be corrected.?

    I can?t speak about CIA assignments, but I can discuss revealing classified information. The law is clear?It is illegal for a person, whether government employee, civilian, or other, to reveal classified information. Period. Simply leaving Government service does not relieve a person of his/her responsibility to safeguard classified information.

    I don?t know if the law regarding revealing classified information applies to CIA assignments, but I don?t see why it wouldn?t.

    Which is all totally beside the point, as Matt said in reply to John?s first comment.

    Scott

  13. Anoymous poster:

    It should have been obvious to Mr. Wilson that if he went public about his CIA mission to Africa, and in the blatantly political matter he did, curious folks — not just Bush partisans — would become more interested in who sent him to Africa and why. It is puzzling why, given his past, he was given this assignment. I believe that any rational person truly interested in protecting an undercover wife would have foreseen these questions and avoided them by keeping his mouth shut.

    That’s why I don’t buy Wilson’s spin on the affair. It doesn’t wash.

    Mac Daddy:

    Thanks for the clarification. I say again that I don’t know of a law prohibiting a former CIA asset from disclosing his activities unless they involve classified information. I’ll be happy to stipulate that Wilson’s self-outing wasn’t illegal, just dumb and politically motivated. Perhaps you think this is beside the point, but I think it is directly on-point — as I never said that the government was justified in rebutting his silly tirade with an illegal leak.

    Again, I am not defending the leak or leaker, assuming the said statute applied to Plume. If it didn’t apply to Plume, then I guess I would defend the leak.

  14. Questioning Wilsons credentials??

    Lets see here, former CIA agent charged with supplying the almost daily CIA debriefings to the President, during which time he worked for 4 administrations, Johnson, Carter, Regan and Bush Sr, (which BTW is how come Bush Sr. regards him as a close and personal friend). Ambassador to both Iraq and Niger, giving not only the opportunity, but also the right contacts to fully investigate the charges against Iraq.

    Also, the administration spin on this just cracks me up. The facts are, the VP office requested this mission, Wilson was selected. I dont care what Novak writes, Wilson was not just sent there because his wife wanted him to go. The VP office requested the investigation, Wilson was selected. Not JUST because of who his wife is, but WHAT he was as well.

    The fact that he wrote an Op-Ed piece was ONLY after repeated attempts to contact the administration to clarify what they were talking about, a fact that seems convieniantly left out, but has enough basis that the administration will not dispute. Wilson did his duty as an american citizen….

    Or do you neo-cons just forget that whole aspect…

  15. I will ask this one more time, because I must know: is Valerie Plame hot? I’ve read that she is, but I think that was a quote from her husband, and he might not be the most reliable source. Has anyone out there seen a picture?

  16. Steve:
    Google had no pictures of Valerie Plame, but Calpundit had a photo of her meeting with Bill Clinton (just wait till the the rally-round-the -boss Republicans discover that! ).
    Unfortunately, only the back of her head is shown, so you can’t tell if she’s hot, but she is definitely blonde and thin.

  17. Just someone:

    Who says I’m a neo-con? Do you even know what a neo-con is?

    Wilson’s political allegiances were, it has been reported, well-known before the CIA sent him to Africa. Thus it is odd that he was chosen. As to the Veep asking for the story to be checked out, that does not answer the question of why this particular fellow was selected — a fellow who, in retrospect, was an exceedingly poor and irresponsible choice.

    Again, I’m not defending any illegal leaks, etc., etc.

    I dont care what Novak writes, Wilson was not just sent there because his wife wanted him to go. The VP office requested the investigation, Wilson was selected. Not JUST because of who his wife is, but WHAT he was as well.

    Wow, you are one amazing investigative reporter. Now, which CIA official talked to you, and was it on or off the record?

  18. John Hood,

    Do you get paid to shill for Bush, or is it a voluntary thing? 🙂

  19. JB:

    Hey, I could give you the details of my compensation arrangement with the Bush/military/industrial/Likud/700 Club/Murdoch/Scaife/neo-con international conspiracy. . .

    But then I’d have to, well, you know. Don’t risk it.

  20. “Wilson’s political allegiances were, it has been reported, well-known before the CIA sent him to Africa.” You mean, donating to Poppy and working for Reagan?

  21. Thanks for that insightful comment! It makes interesting reading, especially when I need a payday loan.

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