Fitzcarraldo

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Adherents of the Judith-Miller-should-be-jailed-for-life school keep insisting they're not motivated by animus against President Bush, and I'd like to believe them, but articles like this one don't make it any easier. The hope out there that federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is closing in on Karl Rove is so strong you can practically taste it with your eyes, and the news over the last few days has clearly given Bush haters new cause for optimism.

For what it's worth, I share that hope, not only because I believe the proper place for all public officials is behind bars, but because as a taxpayer and news consumer I insist on getting my money's worth. At this point, Fitzgerald has piloted his leaky barge so far upstream, spent so much time as a cancer on the public attention span, that there had better be a pretty big reward at the end. If all this fret and foment has been about putting together an airtight report rather than nailing some big game, I'll say Fitzgerald (profiled, in full Blarney mode, here) has been wasting the taxpayers' time and money.

How bad does it look? According to Michael Isikoff's assessment of the leaked Matt Cooper email, pretty bad:

"Subject: Rove/P&C," (for personal and confidential), Cooper began. "Spoke to Rove on double super secret background for about two mins before he went on vacation …" Cooper proceeded to spell out some guidance on a story that was beginning to roil Washington. He finished, "please don't source this to rove or even WH [White House]" and suggested another reporter check with the CIA…

Cooper wrote that Rove offered him a "big warning" not to "get too far out on Wilson." Rove told Cooper that Wilson's trip had not been authorized by "DCIA"—CIA Director George Tenet—or Vice President Dick Cheney. Rather, "it was, KR said, wilson's wife, who apparently works at the agency on wmd [weapons of mass destruction] issues who authorized the trip."

Rove's lawyer's new argument, that Rove identified Joe Wilson's wife as a CIA agent but did not give her name, recalls Samuel Johnson's argument about intent: "You could shoot a man in the head and say I intended to miss." Factor in that Cooper's email is dated three days before Bob Novak's column appeared, and the case that Rove was the primary Plame leaker becomes quite a bit more believable.

The so-called Intelligence Identities Protection Act, however, leaves enough leeway that Rove will most likely be able to get away with pleading stupidity. He can claim the disclosure was accidental or a slip of the tongue (I don't know what exculpatory weight that would carry), that he didn't know Plame was a covert agent, or that he didn't know the government was "actively concealing" her identity. Further to-be-sure-ism: It is not clear that Rove is in any way a target of Fitzgerald's investigation.

While the more ideological anti-Rovians comically pretend to be motivated by a newfound concern for the CIA's integrity, I just want to see the fur fly. The idea that an incompetent, barely accountable government agency's prerogative to operate in total secrecy is so important that citizens should be jailed just for talking about it is better suited to the Ottoman Porte than the United States. And the claim that motivated the Identities Protection act—that cover-blower Philip Agee got CIA station chief Richard Welch killed—has been pretty well debunked. For some real Havana-sized laffs, check out the grotesque Agee here, contrasting his own (brave, virtuous) whistle-blowing with Rove's (craven, vengeful) outing of Plame. But while we're operating under the 1982 law, it's going to seem like quite a waste if Judith Miller is the only person who sees the inside of a jail cell over the Plame affair. Can Patrick Fitzgerald pull it off, or will we need to call in Gerald Fitzpatrick?

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  1. “At this point, Fitzgerald has piloted his leaky barge so far upstream, spent so much time as a cancer on the public attention span, that there had better be a pretty big reward at the end.”

    Er, actually, Fitzgerald has *not* weighed very heavy on the public attention span. He’s been pretty quiet about it. The media hasn’t been very interested in covering the case until just lately.

    Compared to Ken Starr’s investigation, Fitzgerald’s been a veritable prosecutorial ninja.

  2. I suppose you’re right. But we can’t say Starr didn’t give us our money’s worth.

  3. if you define worth strictly in terms of entertainment value, then Starr wins

    OTOH, since the only crime he found was a middle-aged married man perjured himself with regard to a BJ he received, I’d define that as a real waste of money compared to the potential crime in this case: revelation of an undercover CIA agent’s identity and perjury to cover his own ass and his boss’s ass

  4. I have a feeling that Fitzgerald’s investigation is probably a lot more efficient than Starr’s.

    Fitzgerald probably has a much lower burn rate ($/month).

  5. Fitzgerald probably has a much lower burn rate ($/month).

    But with Starr all the money was up there on the screen!

  6. I can’t imagine wanting all government officals jailed without wanting some private-sector folks to be their cell mates. Too many CEO bonuses out there for an economy that’s in hawk to China, don’t you think?

  7. “Mr. Cooper, it turns out, never spoke to his confidential source that day, said Robert D. Luskin, a lawyer for the source, who is now known to be Karl Rove, the senior White House political adviser.”

    —-New York Times, July 11, 2005 (bugmenot required)

    I had heard it explained earlier today on the radio–and if you hear it on the radio, it must be true–that Karl Rove was the person who called Cooper and told him it was okay to testify. Indeed, that seemed to be what made a big part of the story last week.

    “The development was actually the product of a frenzied series of phone calls initiated that morning by a lawyer for Mr. Cooper and involving Mr. Luskin and the special prosecutor in the case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald. …Mr. Cooper and his personal lawyer, Richard A. Sauber, declined to comment on the negotiations, but Mr. Sauber said that Mr. Cooper had used the word “personal” to mean specific.”

    —-New York Times, July 11, 2005

    I did not have “personal” relations with that woman, …

    “If Matt Cooper is going to jail to protect a source,” Mr. Luskin told The Journal, “it’s not Karl he’s protecting.” That provided an opening, Mr. Cooper said. “I was not looking for a waiver,” he said, “but on Wednesday morning my lawyer called and said, ‘Look at The Wall Street Journal. I think we should take a shot.’ And I said, ‘Yes, it’s an invitation.'” In court shortly after 2, he told Judge Thomas F. Hogan of the Federal District Court in Washington that he had received “an express personal release from my source.” That statement surprised Mr. Luskin, Mr. Rove’s lawyer. Mr. Luskin said he had only reaffirmed the blanket waiver, in response to a request from Mr. Fitzgerald.”

    —-New York Times, July 11, 2005

    …Maybe I’m not reading this right, but doesn’t it sound like Fitzgerald confirmed the existence of a blanket waiver with Rove’s attorney, and conveyed this to Cooper? …and doesn’t it sound like Cooper then–in one of the best Clinton impersonations I’ve seen in a while–told the judge that he had received a “personal”–as in specific–release to testify?

    Why the hell would any of this matter?

    …In one of last weeks threads, at least one naysayer went big with the there’s-no-way-Cooper- and-company-would- take-the-fall-for-Rove thing. I have to admit I found myself wondering, why the hell would Rove release Cooper to testify? …If I’m readin’ the above right, that’s a good point–and Rove, through his attorney, didn’t know he’d granted a “personal release”…

    …So I’ll remain cautiously optimistic.

  8. If Ken Starr stuff is what you want, there’s got to be some seamy Monicagate-like material swirling around Jeff Gannon and Rove, I just know it.

  9. Hey, it’s not too late for Rove to be caught having sex with a cheesesteak in his office, and calling it “Valerie”.

    It could happen, when he snaps. Any minute now.

  10. If Rove knew it, Bush knew it.
    I want someone to tell me how this improves the chances of impeaching Bush.

    Instead of Starr, could we get a Moonn this time… to shed more light?

  11. “I want someone to tell me how this improves the chances of impeaching Bush.”

    Never happen, not with this congress.

    Bush could be caught snacking on barbecued fetuses, on the Mall, in broad daylight, by a busload of Christian homeschooled kids, and he wouldn’t be impeached.

  12. I don’t want impeachment. …I want to see further evidence that the Bush Administration bullshitted us into the Iraq War given all the publicity it can get.

    …It makes it a lot less likely that the American people will follow him into another mistake.

  13. Can Patrick Fitzgerald pull it off, or will we need to call in Gerald Fitzpatrick?

    So, did you hear the one about the two gay Irishmen… ?

    (C’mon. Somebody had to say it.)

  14. Okay, so let’s imagine that Plume’s name did not appear in Novak’s column, but instead on Al-Jazeera. Or in “The Pravda.” Or basically in any foreign newspaper. Rove would have let Cooper go to jail, or put a bullet through his own head.

    On the plus side, the fact that he let Cooper give out his name rather than face jail time shows that Rove actually has capacity for guilt, something previously unknown to me.

  15. I gather eveyone here at least has already decided Rove is guilty, based on some carefully selected enail leaks, so we may as well just sack FitzGerald, cancel the grand jury, and heck, dispense with the idea of a trial.

    Or, we could let the prosecutor do his job, and start wondering about who is leaking this information and why.

  16. There’s one small problem with all of this. Plame wasn’t a “covert agent.” She was relieved and brought back in 1995. She worked at a desk at Langley, so the legal definition of “covert agent” is a stretch, to say the least.

    But don’t let that get in the way. After all, you demanded the resignation of Powell, Ashcroft, Ridge, Rumsfeld, Delay. All to naught. And now? Well, it’s supposed to be different with Rove.

    But it isn’t. You’re perfectly free, however, to step in the minefield with glee.

  17. So does this mean that we can be certain that it was someone else who called Judy Miller? If she’s going to jail to protect an already outed WH official who himself (under this assumption) outed the wife of an NYT contributor and then asked everybody to cooperate with the investigation, I’m sending the NYT an invoice for one bottle of asparin.

  18. This is a crappy little scandal, and you can always tell a crappy scandal by the excitement of the Washington press corps, who do nothing for a living and then give each other high-fives for their rare tense questioning of their pal the press spokesman.

    Yes, of course it’s wrong and it’s probably treason to do whatever Rove did. But he surely does worse every day of his life, and if anybody thinks demoting Rove is a “victory” against the current administration, they’d probably figure killing John Mellencamp’s drummer would be justice enough for the Cougar’s musical & farm-subsidy crimes.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to learn (20 years from now) that Rove himself decided to be the lamb on the altar, taking one for the home team so he could lead them to further criminal acts next time around. Republicans make the mistake of thinking these people in the White House & Pentagon & State Dept. give a damn about whatever Ideals are on the blogs or WSJ editorial page. Democrats make the mistake of … well, everything. And once again they do their assigned roles, acting all outraged. An Asian Bird Pox on them all.

  19. Also, Judith Miller should be jailed for life. (Sorry, Tim.) It’s time to teach the kids that being an ass-kissing Pentagon propaganda agent is just as bad as being a New York Times “star reporter,” and that the combination can only be punished with a long prison sentence.

  20. The Plame business is really sweet. But what I’d REALLY like is to see the faces on some “Christian conservatives” I know if it turns out Turdblossom was getting cored by Jeff Gannon.

  21. Maybe I’m the biggest idiot on the face of the earth. Maybe the answers to the two questions I pose below are so immediately apparent to every other breathing being, I have simply failed in some essential department.

    But I’m gonna go ahead and ask. Meantime, somebody needs to throw together a Valerie Plame Shit For Dummies manual. OK:

    (1) Virtually every news story-blog entry-editorial out there includes a boilerplate line that reads like this: “The outing of Plame is widely thought to have been an attempt to discredit Wilson…” Sometimes it’s cast as “an attempt to retaliate against…”

    Could somebody please explain to me HOW THE FUCK the outing of someone’s CIA status “discredits” that person’s spouse? What common wisdom am I missing here? How is the outing of Plame in any way, shape or form connected to Wilson? Or to his Niger report? I obviously lack some knowledge about the dynamics of the CIA, or of ambassadorships, or of something — a knowledge so widespread among the rest of humanity that NOBODY EVER FUCKING BOTHERS to explain the context.

    (2) If Judith Miller and Matt Cooper conducted private interviews with anonymous sources for stories that never even made it past their computer keyboards — let alone into print — how in THE FUCK did they wind up in the middle of this? Why would they even have been on the prosecutor’s radar? More important: WHY THE FUCK isn’t this basic question ever addressed in stories about this stuff? Once again — am I missing something basic here, some context so obvious and fundamental to every other human that it doesn’t even merit addressing?

    I’m sure I could come up with a few more of these, but as my shouted “FUCKs” indicate, I’m already frustrated enough by my confusion about this whole deal.

  22. sp,

    i’ll speak in your language

    1) rove discredited wilson thru novak et all by saying, basically, allegedly, “the veep and the wh didnt send wilson to africa, it was his fucking wifey who’s in the fucking cia, and as you know the fucking cia are always trying to fucking make us look like a bunch of fuckers.”

    2) those reporters are on the radar because Rove told the prosecuter who he leaked the info to and the prosecuter wants to get everyones stories straight because washington is full of a bunch of fucking liars.

  23. What the hell is a CIA desk jockey doing handing off intell gathering assignments to her HUSBAND?

    He’s not qualified for the mission, sat around for a week sipping tea with the locals, LIED about his findings to the public, LIED about his wife’s involvement in picking him…. LOL.

    No wonder out Intel sucks. “Hey Bob, you’ve got that wife that always wanted to visited Tel Aviv, right? Well guess what – we need someone to confirm whether Hamas….”

    snicker.

    BTW – Clinton was impeached for perjury re sexual discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace. Its still too early for your revisionist tripe.

  24. I suppose you’re right. But we can’t say Starr didn’t give us our money’s worth.

    Uh, yeah, we can, Tim. His bullshit investigation spent a shitload of our tax money, to prove…nothing.

  25. Everything I know about Valerie Plame I learned from Joe Wilson.

    Everything I know about Joe Wilson I learned from the Senate Intelligence Committee. They caught Joe lying.

  26. Michael Isikoff

    Isn’t he suffering a bit of a credibility problem these days, post-Koran down the toilet and all that?

  27. Could somebody please explain to me HOW THE FUCK the outing of someone’s CIA status “discredits” that person’s spouse?

    I seem to recall it had something to do with her husband’s testimony regarding the yellowcake; the idea was that he didn’t know what he was talking about, since he only got the job because of his wife the CIA agent.

  28. I have trouble taking anyone seriously who uses the term “double super secret”. They must teach this in the coastal journalism schools. But then I saw this: “Cooper moonlights as a stand-up comedian …”. Suddenly, this is really funny! So far, we don’t even know if a crime has been committed. For most of us working class folks who think all politicians and lawyers are crooks, this really isn’t a story yet.

  29. Okay, I’ve got another question. If Rove’s “outing” of Plame is treason, why wasn’t Sandy Berger taken out and shot?

  30. “If Rove’s “outing” of Plame is treason, why wasn’t Sandy Berger taken out and shot?”

    Keith, my silly little friend, don’t you understand how the game is played?

    If you would, for instance, secretly meet with the enemy, say in Paris, twice during a time of war, that isn’t treason, even if it specifically violates Section 904, Article 104 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and you are in fact still a naval officer–as long as you are a Massachusetts Democrat.

    If you compare our military to say, Nazis during a time of war, even though you are a public official and it violates U.S. Code, Title 18, Chapter 115, Article 2387, that isn’t sedition or subversion if you happen to be a Illinois Democrat.

    Don’t you understand, Keith? Rove had the temerity to shine a light upon unethical behavior by a CIA desk jockey and her Clinton loyalist husband which proved they lied and set up a false case to push their private political agenda at public expense.

    Rove castrated a couple of Democratic liars.

    That is treason.

  31. Rove had the temerity to shine a light upon unethical behavior by a CIA desk jockey and her Clinton loyalist husband which proved they lied and set up a false case to push their private political agenda at public expense.

    So you’re saying that when Wilson claimed the administration was fudging intelligence to bolster the case for war with Iraq, THAT was a lie and the intelligence was correct all along? Or are you kidding?

  32. Isn’t he suffering a bit of a credibility problem these days, post-Koran down the toilet and all that?

    You mean the story that the pentagon pretty much confirmed a few days after frying newsweek.

  33. From the WSJ, via the Corner:

    In all of this, far too little attention has been paid to the law that is driving Mr. Fitzgerald’s inquiry. Nearly all discussion of the Plame investigation has instead mechanically assumed, without any critical thinking, that a crime was committed when “two senior administration officials,” in Mr. Novak’s words, disclosed to him in July 2003 that Ms. Plame was a CIA “operative.”

    In fact, the most powerful reason why journalists should not be jailed for failing to cooperate with Mr. Fitzgerald’s grand jury is because Mr. Fitzgerald has no crime to investigate.

    The Plame inquiry is justified, we’re told, by the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, which Congress passed because our intelligence community was apoplectic over Mr. Agee’s “outing” during the 1970s of CIA covert agents stationed abroad to purposefully disrupt the agency’s operations. The bill probably should have been called the “Get Philip Agee” Act.

    The law requires a prosecutor to show that a person has disclosed information that identifies a “covert agent” (not an “operative”) while actually knowing that the agent has been undercover within the last five years in a foreign country and that the disclosed information would expose the agent. For a person who had no classified access to the outed agent’s identity, the law provides the additional hurdle of proving a pattern of exposing agents with the belief that such actions would harm the government’s spying capabilities.

    As a practical matter, this high degree of proof of willfulness or intentionality would be almost impossible to find in any circumstances other than in a Philip Agee clone (and maybe not even him). To interpret the statute more broadly would flout the longstanding American jurisprudential tradition of narrowly construing criminal laws, especially those that encroach upon free-speech values.

    The legislative history of the law could not make its narrow purpose more clear. The “principal thrust of this [statute] has been to make criminal those disclosures which represent a conscious and pernicious effort to identify and expose agents with the intent to impair or impede the foreign intelligence activities of the United States by such actions,” reads the Senate report. Legislators emphasized that they crafted the bill to “exclude the possibility that casual discussion, political debate, [or] the journalistic pursuit of a story on intelligence . . . will be chilled.”

    The statute was thus not intended to target executive branch officials who make disclosures — whether carelessly, out of personal or bureaucratic animus, or in pursuit of an important foreign-policy objective — while talking about national security matters with reporters. Indeed, even if Congress wanted to criminalize — which it in fact emphatically did not — executive branch release for policy reasons of a particular type of intelligence information, such a regulatory scheme would have serious separation of powers problems. The act was also not supposed to entangle reporters in a net of prison sentences, either as recipients of leaks or as disclosers in their own right.

    Yet here we are with a special prosecutor on the loose and in pursuit of jail terms for journalists regarding a dissemination of information which was relevant to the central foreign-policy question of our times — i.e., did the U.S. embark on its invasion of Iraq with a reasonable if mistaken belief that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction?

  34. 1) It is highly unlikely that Rove will be indicted, let alone convicted. It is possible, I guess, that Fitzgerald may have access to some evidence that has not yet been made public that Rove knew (a) that Plame was a covert CIA agent and (b) that the CIA was taking active steps to keep her covert status a secret. But if not, then there’s no case.

    2) Ken Starr failed to nail Bill and Hillary for their real crime, which was ripping off the American taxpayer in the Whitewater land scam. Starr got lots of convictions, but couldn’t get the goods on those two. All the key witnesses either died or took an oath of omerta, like Susan MacDonald. Now my suspicion is that Bill didn’t pay close attention – he was the big picture, political guy. Hillary was the corporate lawyer who surely knew all of the details of the scam. So as much as I personally like Ken, and I think he’s a fine lawyer and a great human being, I have to admit that he failed in this assignment.

  35. Does the president have the ability to fire CIA people? I mean this particular prez doesn’t seem to like fireing people. But it seems to me that some cleaning of house needs to be done in the CIA.

    People appointing their spouses for national security work. What the hell? She should have been prosecuted for that, her supervisor should have been prosecuted, and the supervisors supervisor should have been fired.

  36. Uh, Jennifer are you serious when you say, “So you’re saying that when Wilson claimed the administration was fudging intelligence to bolster the case for war with Iraq, THAT was a lie and the intelligence was correct all along? Or are you kidding?”

    That’s exactly what happened. Tenet said it in his testimony before congress, it’s in the 9/11 commission report, and in fact Wilson actually admits it in his book. Wilson’s reported back from Niger that the government had been approached by Irag to by uranium. His report bolstered the administration’s conviction that British intelligence was correct. Also, the British still stand by their intelligence and have made it very clear that it was not dependent on the forged Italian documents, which were never given much credibility.

    The point is, Wilson lied in his NY Times column and this has been not only confirmed by the CIA and the 9/11 Commission, but in his own autobiography. It is a matter of public record and should be common knowledge. The fact that it is not…

  37. You mean the story that the pentagon pretty much confirmed a few days after frying newsweek.

    Oh, it was true, that’s the reason he offered to resign from the magazine. I get it.

  38. this thread seems to have been jacked by Ann Coulter

    from what I’ve read (which could be accurate, or not) Plame suggested her husband for the job, not “appointed” her husband for national security work

    what made him qualified? he had served in Niger in our embassy, and so had contacts there. its not like he was a cashier at Wal-Mart and just wanted a little vacation there. he had some knowledge of the country from previously being posted there.

  39. Hmm. Regarding my question #2 (above), I see that a letter writer at Romenesko is asking the very same thing. (See “Mysterious Miller link,”
    7/11/2005 7:34:58 PM)

    Guess I’m not alone after all.

  40. Oh, it was true, that’s the reason he offered to resign from the magazine. I get it.

    I don’t know why he offered his resignation and I don’t care. The pentagon admitted that the quran was splashed with Urine:

    Pentagon details mishandling of Quran
    Detainees? copies of holy book kicked, splashed with urine

  41. SP, you should thank Fenrisulven for so effectively demonstrating the mindset behind trashing Plame’s cover. See, he was an incompentent who only got the job through nepotism, so we don’t have to pay any attention to his report. O’Saddama bought uranium from Niger, and Wilson was too busy sipping tea in the glorious cosmopoles of Niger to bother finding out the truth.

    Also, ruining a guy’s wife’s career is a pretty good way to get payback.

    Slack, nobody cares whether you think Valerie Plame’s covert status was important or not. She either had a covert identity, or she didn’t. And when the hell did you become an expert on the various players in the CIA’s WMD-antiproliferation covert efforts, anyway?

    “If Rove’s “outing” of Plame is treason, why wasn’t Sandy Berger taken out and shot?” Because Berger didn’t provide any information to anyone, or interfere with any ongoing efforts to defend the country. Rove, on the other hand, shut down any initiatives to stop the proliferation of WMDs that involved Valerie Plame.

  42. kwais,

    “People appointing their spouses for national security work. What the hell? She should have been prosecuted for that, her supervisor should have been prosecuted, and the supervisors supervisor should have been fired.”

    Plame didn’t appoint anyone. George Tenant appointed Wilson. Plame recommended him. Seeing as how she was an expert on the subject matter, and he was an expert on the location with plentiful relevant contacts, Tenant decided he was the right man for the job.

  43. joe,

    I believe you’re right on those points. But there’s one thing I haven’t seen you address: do you think there was a crime committed? That is, is there enough evidence that a crime was committed to justify this prosecution, and throwing Judith Miller in jail? Adam’s post above, though it’s cribbed from NRO, is 100% correct on the facts. What Rove (or whoever) did was slimy, and he shoud be fired, but I can’t see how it’s criminal. There are very specific criteria in the statute for who is a “covert agent,” and what you have to do to break the law by illegaly blowing their cover, and they just don’t apply here.

  44. All of the sudden this administration has a problem with nepotism? Huh?

  45. Steve,

    I don’t know if Rove committed a crime. Might be a crime, might just be cause for banishment from the company of decent people. I don’t think Podhoretz or anyone else knows whether Miller’s status puts her in the category of people protected by the law – except her colleagues at the CIA, and some of the people investigating the leak.

    Miller, on the other hand, refused to provide testimony when ordered to by a grand jury, and was thus found in contempt. Her reason not to do so was considered and rejected – and for good reason. So she certainly committed, if not a crime, an act that violated her duty to the court.

  46. The fact is that the law in question might as well have been called the Stop Phillip Agee Act. As pointed out by several poster’s above the standard of proof for it makes it virtually impossible to prove in court, unless you have a defendent like Phillip Agee who openly admits that his intent is to out as many covert agents as possible. Even if you could prove it, Pflame was a mother of two or three young children and hadn’t been in out in the field in years and was unlikely ever to go in the field again. The media makes it sound like she was living undercover in Upper Bannanastan and had to flee by mule train to avoid being shot. Nothing could be further from the truth. She was a soccer mom and CIA bureaucrat at Langly who had good enough political connections in the organization to get her hack husband a quick assignment.

    The fact is Joe Wilson was a hack and a liar who got the job by his wife’s influence. His story fell apart as soon as anyone took a hard look. Saddam did by Uranium from Niger. He was too lazy and incompetent to figure this out and went singing to the media as soon as he realized he could get a cover shoot in Vanity Fair.

    What is funny about this is that the media was dying for this investigation when it looked like a way to hurt Bush during the election, but somehow realized, after the election and after the reporters were threatened with jail, the obvious fact that it is extrordinarily unlikly that a crime was committed and the entire investigation might have been (gasp) a complete waste of time.

  47. See, for a moment after reading Joe’s answer, I thought I was wrong.

    Then I read John’s post, and I am right again. It is good to be right.

  48. I don’t know that Rove committed a crime.

    …but it seems pretty clear to me that the Bush Administration built a mighty pile of bullshit to sell the Iraq War to the American people. …and you can call me stubborn–I prefer “Warrior Poet of the Forlorn Hope”–but I’m still holding on, thinkin’ that the American people are yet to come to terms with what the Bush Administration did to sell the war.

    …Of course, the idea that the American people are okay with that sucks.

    Kwais,

    It’s my understanding that the Bush Administration already cleaned out the CIA.

  49. If Rove is the good guy here, why didn’t he just come out and say that he outed her? Why the need for obfuscation on the matter from Rove himself as well as the WH Press Secretary?

  50. Tom Crick,

    Whether he committed a crime or not, Rove certainly lied about what happened.

  51. kwais,

    You’re going to base your perception of the issue on namecalling?

    Ambassador Wilson – a title reserved for the highest-ranking foreign relations officials – had spent several years working in the region, and had intimate knowledge both of how the uranium trade worked, and the sources who could tell him what was going on.

    Joe Wilson was such a “hack” that he served in positions of increasing responsibility through several administrations? And we’re supposed to believe that he should never have even been recommended to do a job that involved speaking to sources in a region he knew well, about a subject he knew well? Why, because he published a column that caught Bush in a lie?

    (BTW, John, no proof has been provided of Iraqi purchases of yellowcake, no yellowcake or processed uranium has been found in Iraq [mabye O’Saddamma ate it?], and the lie Wilson caught Bush in was misrepresenting the contents of Wilson’s own report).

  52. I misspoke. The claim was he was trying to purchase it, not that he successfully did. Thus, the fact that they hadn’t found it in Iraq doesn’t mean much. Wilson claimed that the documents were forgeries and Saddam never tried to purchase it, something we now know to be false.

  53. “Joe Wilson was such a “hack” that he served in positions of increasing responsibility through several administrations? And we’re supposed to believe that he should never have even been recommended to do a job that involved speaking to sources in a region he knew well, about a subject he knew well?”

    Doesn’t anybody out there work for a living?

    It’s called a conflict of interest. It’s entirely inappropriate to give or even nominate your spouse (really any relative but particularly a spouse) for a job or a contract. It’s also illegal in the gov’t if she made the actual call (the dodging of illegality is that somebody else signed all the documents, not the spouse). I’m astonished that a) she made the nomination and b) that it was accepted. As a former contracting officer, I’m guessing the people that signed the contracts had no idea that Wilson’s wife had a role in this. Surely I would have never signed a contract where the party we were contracting with was the spouse of someone in the office.

  54. “Factor in that Cooper’s email is dated three days before Bob Novak’s column appeared, and the case that Rove was the primary Plame leaker becomes quite a bit more believable.”

    Except that the Washington Post – you know, Newsweek’s sister publication – reported that Novak’s column hit the wires on the same day Rove and Cooper spoke.

  55. HH lies: Except that the Washington Post – you know, Newsweek’s sister publication – reported that Novak’s column hit the wires on the same day Rove and Cooper spoke.

    …which must be why the WashPost‘s article says:

    “Rove had a short conversation with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper on July 11, 2003, three days before Robert D. Novak publicly exposed Plame in a column about her husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV.”

  56. “As a former contracting officer, I’m guessing the people that signed the contracts had no idea that Wilson’s wife had a role in this. Surely I would have never signed a contract where the party we were contracting with was the spouse of someone in the office.”

    Um, Sweetie, Wilson wasn’t paid. And a trip to Niger isn’t exactly a junket to Vegas. People don’t catch Guinea Worm at the Bellagio.

  57. John writes: “The fact is that the law in question might as well have been called the Stop Phillip Agee Act. As pointed out by several poster’s above the standard of proof for it makes it virtually impossible to prove in court, unless you have a defendent like Phillip Agee who openly admits that his intent is to out as many covert agents as possible.”

    Except the only conviction under the law had nothing in common with Agee. It was a clerk at a foreign embassy who identified a few covert agents to her boyfriend.

    So it would appear you’re wrong.

  58. Fred writes: “Everything I know about Joe Wilson I learned from the Senate Intelligence Committee. They caught Joe lying.”

    Er, no.

    Three Republican hacks on the committee tacked on an appendix of dubious assertions about Wilson, which the entire committee didn’t sign off on.

    Hell, Rove probably wrote the damned appendix, with an eye towards this very case.

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