Barack Obama

Media Matters: Key Issues in DOJ Investigation of AP Include…Bush Admin Leak of Valerie Plame?!?!

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The ever-helpful folks at the Obama-friendly Media Matters gives cocktail-party-ready tips on how to talk about the Department of Justice's investigation of the AP in relation to stories about a failed al Qaeda plot in Yemen.

For those interested in pushing back against partisan attacks while the rest of us grapple with the larger questions, here is language to guide you….

  • If the press compromised active counter-terror operations for a story that only tipped off the terrorists, that sounds like it should be investigated.
  • It was not acceptable when the Bush Administration exposed Valerie Plame working undercover to stop terrorists from attacking us. It is not acceptable when anonymous sources do it either.
  • Is this story about a government source blowing the whistle on government misbehavior, or about a source gratuitously exposing ongoing counter-terrorism operations?
  • Did Republicans in Congress who are now exploiting the situation to score political points oppose the media shield law that likely would have protected the Associated Press in this situation?
  • How should the Justice Department strike the balance between respecting our free press and investigating damaging leaks that jeopardize counter-terrorism operations?

All ital and bold in original, which is online here (Hat Tip: Eli Lake).

I'll take a quick stab at answering the last of Media Matters' bullet points: The DOJ could strike a balance by pursuing first and foremost investigations within the Obama administration or the government, where by definition the leaks must have orignated. And when they get around to surveilling press organizations—especially independent ones that are at times critical of the Obama adminstration— they best tightly tailor their searches rather than create the equivalent of dragnets. As the National Journal's Ron Fournier has pointed out, the operation seems as designed to chill the press as discover anything in particular.

And given the willingness of members of the Obama administration to plainly act in partisan fashion (IRS, anyone?), it's best to tell Attorney General Eric Holder to stop bragging that

"We have tried more leak cases—brought more leak cases during the course of this administration than any other administration."


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  1. I don’t think Obama realizes how quickly he’s come to look ridiculous to average people.

    The Department of Justice investigating the Obama Administration is the Obama Administration investigating itself–that goes for the AP scandal and the IRS scandal, as well.

    There are some relevant references to the Bush Administration to make here, though:

    Eric Holder investigating Obama is like Karl Rove investigating Bush.

    Eric Holder investigating Obama’s IRS is like Alberto Gonzales investigating Bush’s Department of Defense.

    Everybody hates independent prosecutors–until we really need one.

  2. god I hope I run into some moron spouting off these talking points. each one is more asinine than the previous.

    btw, don’t we already have a ‘media shield law’? it’s called the first fucking amendment.

    1. Seriously, “so you think asking a bunch of nonsensical questions gives the administration cover for illegal searches?”

    2. I’m sure both PB and Tony will oblige very soon.

  3. Someone should get a bunch of these Tea Party groups together and try to chart out how long it took them to get their approvals. Some paranoiac side of me wonders if we would find a big cluster around late November, December, January, February, etc. You know, after the election.

  4. The Plame scandal did result in a conviction. And someone who sacrificed himself for the VP too.

    1. You have no idea how reassured I am that the Valerie Plame incident justifies the Obama administration engaging in wholesale electronic surveillance of the Associated Press!

      Thank you, Butthead, for restoring my faith in government.

    2. Look, a squirrel!

      1. You mean, a nut.

  5. It was not acceptable when the Bush Administration exposed Valerie Plame working undercover to stop terrorists from attacking us. It is not acceptable when anonymous sources do it either.

    Can someone get Richard Armitage on the phone?

    And have him explain to these idiots that A) Plame was not “working undercover” in any meaningful sense, B) He didn’t actually “expose” her in any meaningful sense, and C) Booooooosh didn’t tell him to do it.

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