July 7, 2005
Time for Robert Novak to Feel Some Chill
"As the judge said Judy Miller can escape her jail cell by finally choosing to talk, so could Novak restore his column and TV appearances by finally talking about his part in the story. Novak is said to have lots of friends in the press. Friends would let him know the time is here."
- New post, Aug. 5: Why Robert Novak Stormed Off the Set. “The legitimacy of Novak’s exemption from questioning had collapsed earlier in the week. Ed Henry was ready with that news. Novak was not ready to receive it.”
- UPDATE, Aug 4: Robert Novak was suspended today after he walked off the set of CNN’s “Inside Politics” just before he was about to be questioned about the leak of a CIA agent’s name. (Here’s the AP Story. Also see Fishbowl DC. And try Kausfiles for speculation. The video is here.)
Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction. Two senior administration officials told me Wilson’s wife suggested sending him to Niger to investigate the Italian report. The CIA says its counter-proliferation officials selected Wilson and asked his wife to contact him. “I will not answer any question about my wife,” Wilson told me. — Robert Novak, “Mission to Niger,” July 14, 2003.
I, for one, have had it with Robert Novak. And if all the journalists who are talking today about “chilling effects” and individual conscience mean what they say, they will, as a matter of conscience and pride, start giving Novak himself the big chill.
That means if you’re a Washington columnist maybe you don’t go on CNN with him— until he explains. If you’re a newspaper editor you consider suspending his column until he explains. If you’re Jonathan Klein, president of CNN/US, you take him off the air until he decides to go on the air and explain. If you’re John Barron, editor of the Chicago Sun-Times, you suspend your columnist (with pay, I should think); and if Barron won’t do it then publisher John Cruickshank should.
If Novak says he can’t talk until the case is over, then he shouldn’t be allowed to publish or opine on the air until the case is over. He should know the rage some of his colleagues feel. Claiming to be “baffled” by Novak’s behavior may have been plausible for a while. With reporter Judith Miller now sitting in jail, and possibly facing criminal charges later, “baffled” is sounding lame.
After the decision yesterday someone asked Bill Keller, top editor of the New York Times, if this was really a whistle-blowing case. Keller answered: “you go to court with the case you’ve got.” I understood what he meant, but that answer was incomplete.
For in certain ways the case that sent Judy Miller to jail is about a classic whistler blower: diplomat Joseph C. Wilson. Those “two senior administration officials” in Novak’s column had a message for him: stick your neck out and we’ll stick it to your wife. (They did: her career as an operative is over.) Might that have some chilling effect?
We’re not entirely in the dark about how the conversation might have gone. Yesterday Walter Pincus of the Washington Post posted this recollection:
On July 12, 2003, an administration official, who was talking to me confidentially about a matter involving alleged Iraqi nuclear activities, veered off the precise matter we were discussing and told me that the White House had not paid attention to former Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s CIA-sponsored February 2002 trip to Niger because it was set up as a boondoggle by his wife, an analyst with the agency working on weapons of mass destruction. I didn’t write about that information at that time because I did not believe it true that she had arranged his Niger trip. (The Post article he did write months later.)
Pincus didn’t take the “information,” Novak did. Why? Did it occur to Novak that this could be retribution against a critic of the White House? Pincus thought the leaker was “practicing damage control by trying to get me to stop writing about Wilson.” What did Novak think? The New York Times in an editorial today:
It seemed very possible that someone at the White House had told Mr. Novak about Ms. Plame to undermine Mr. Wilson’s credibility and send a chilling signal to other officials who might be inclined to speak out against the administration’s Iraq policy. At the time, this page said that if those were indeed the circumstances, the leak had been “an egregious abuse of power.” We urged the Justice Department to investigate.
Tell me: how can journalists say with a straight face that they are concerned for future whistle blowers if one of their own, Robert Novak, together with sources made possible an act of retribution against an actual whistle blower?
We do not know enough to say of Novak, “he should be the one in jail.” But we do know enough to keep him off the air and the op ed pages until he makes a fuller statement. (Times editorial: “Like almost everyone, we are baffled by his public posture.”) It may be that he betrayed the principles for which his colleague Judy Miller is in jail. The editor who decides to drop Novak’s column until such time as he explains himself would be listening to the voice of professional conscience, in my view.
As the judge said Judy Miller can escape her jail cell by finally choosing to talk, so could Novak restore his column and TV appearances by finally talking about his part in the story. Novak is said to have lots of friends in the press. Friends would let him know the time is here.
: Notes, reactions & links
Chris Lehmann in the New York Observer:
Sentiment against Mr. Novak is now so heated that N.Y.U. journalism chairman and Pressthink blogger Jay Rosen recently called for the rather poetic punishment of a profession-wide public shaming of the alleged administration toady: declining TV appearances with him, pulling the plug on his syndicated column, and generally treating him like the Lee J. Cobb character in 12 Angry Men, loudly and ineffectually seeking to foist his boorish scheme of right and wrong on an indifferent world as his jury mates one by one turn their backs on him.
Just what this case needs: more public sanctimony!… Consider the irony, for a moment: legitimate outrage over a journalist’s imprisonment for disobeying a grand jury results in a demand for a different journalist to disobey a grand jury so that he can provide an explanation almost certain to be self-serving and unsatisfying anyway
He got my title wrong. I am no longer chair. And there is no legal prohibition against Novak telling us he made a deal and testified, then revealing what he said.
“Spoke to Rove on double super secret background for about two mins before he went on vacation …” Michael Isikoff gets a leak from Time, Inc. (July 10) It’s Matthew Cooper’s e-mail about his conversation with Rove. That it was leaked from Time to Newsweek (surely a first in the history of those two rivals) says almost as much as the contents of the e-mail itself.
Miller is in prison to protect a right that Novak appears to have finagled. Writing at tompaine.com, The Nation’s David Corn takes you on a fascinating fact-filled (but ultimately conjecture-strewn) tour of what happened with Novak, Fitzgerald and his sources. “He leaves the door wide open for speculation,” Corn writes. “So let’s accept the invitation.” Also see his response to the Isikoff story.
Tom Maguire has a response and more links: Just Say ‘No’ To Novak? Highly informative. Also informative is this Salon article by David Paul Kuhn on the Karl Rove connection. He notes that Rove was fired from the elder Bush’s ‘92 reelection campaign for leaking information to Novak.
Atrios has more on Novak (and Miller) and says the shunning should have happened two years ago. “But why would they start now?”
Doc Searls says about the outing of Palme: “That this was a political act, and not merely a journalistic one, is beyond dispute.” I agree. (True of Wilson’s actions too.) He also points to this potent Daniel Drezner post from two years ago, very relevant today.
I highly recommend Matt Welch’s Shield Journalism, Not Journalists at the Reason magazine site. That is my view, as well. The press should not be granting itself rights the public does not have, but expanding its idea of who has “press” rights— card or no card. I am for solutions that protect newsgathering and expand the press.
Explain please. No, I can’t. Bob Novak with host Ed Henry, CNN’s Inside Politics, June 29:
HENRY: Bob, first, what’s your reaction to the Supreme Court saying they would not hear this case?
BOB NOVAK, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I deplore the thought of reporters — I’ve been a reporter all my life — going to jail for any period of time for not revealing sources, and there needs to be a federal shield law preventing that as there are shield laws in 49 out of 50 states. But, Ed, I — my lawyer said I cannot answer any specific questions about this case until it is resolved, which I hope is very soon.
HENRY: In general, though, you believe in the principle of keeping the identity secret, of confidential sources. Have you ever revealed the identity of one of your confidential sources?
NOVAK: Well, people know — who have read my column know there have been special case where I have. But the question of being coerced to by the government and being put in prison is, I think, something that should be protected by act of Congress.
HENRY: In general, have you cooperated with investigators in this case?
NOVAK: I can’t answer any questions about this case at all.
Rest here. It gets pretty heated. See also the New York Times article where Novak’s colleagues speak. This Media Matters post on Novak—stonewalling the press—has many key links.
Novak in an October 1, 2003 column returned to the events:
During a long conversation with a senior administration official, I asked why Wilson was assigned the mission to Niger. He said Wilson had been sent by the CIA’s counterproliferation section at the suggestion of one of its employees, his wife. It was an offhand revelation from this official, who is no partisan gunslinger. When I called another official for confirmation, he said: “Oh, you know about it.” The published report that somebody in the White House failed to plant this story with six reporters and finally found me as a willing pawn is simply untrue.
At the CIA, the official designated to talk to me denied that Wilson’s wife had inspired his selection but said she was delegated to request his help. He asked me not to use her name, saying she probably never again will be given a foreign assignment but that exposure of her name might cause “difficulties” if she travels abroad. He never suggested to me that Wilson’s wife or anybody else would be endangered. If he had, I would not have used her name. I used it in the sixth paragraph of my column because it looked like the missing explanation of an otherwise incredible choice by the CIA for its mission.
Novak’s colleague at the Chicago Sun-Times, Carol Marin, on July 1: “Why in the world is New York Times reporter Judith Miller headed to jail next week while my Sun-Times colleague Robert Novak is not?”
Arizona Republic editorial:
Then there is this curious obsession among many commentators with columnist Robert Novak.
Novak, who first revealed Plame as an agent of the CIA, has avoided Fitzgerald’s prosecution, while Cooper and Miller have been hounded by him. Why? Interesting question. If he has cut some invidious deal with the prosecutor, he will deserve condemnation. But the First Amendment advocates complaining about Novak don’t know why he has been spared harassment. They simply seem upset that a columnist friendly to the Bush administration has escaped the threat of jail. Not much of a principle at work there.
Well, William Safire isn’t too thrilled either. On June 29 Safire wrote: “Mr. Novak should finally write the column he owes readers and colleagues perhaps explaining how his two sources - who may have truthfully revealed themselves to investigators - managed to get the prosecutor off his back.”
White House Briefing columnist Dan Froomkin at the Washington Post site:
Fitzgerald has been incredibly secretive about the case, where it’s going, and why he’s subpoenaing all these reporters. But being secretive is his job. He’s a prosecutor. And federal law is clear that authorities are not allowed to divulge grand jury testimony.
But the witnesses are under no such constraints. It’s been reported that Fitzgerald has asked witnesses not to talk about the case in public — but that has no legal authority.
Froomkin asks: “Why is everyone keeping Fitzgerald’s secrets for him? Enough!” He has more about who should start talking.
Earlier PressThink: The Downing Street Memo and the Court of Appeal in News Judgment. (June 19, 2005) “News judgment used to be king. If the press ruled against you, you just weren’t news. But if you weren’t news how would anyone know enough about you to contest the ruling? Today, the World Wide Web is the sovereign force, and journalists live and work according to its rules.”
Key exchange on the PBS Newshour: (July 6, 2005)
STEVE CHAPMAN (Chicago Tribune): I think there should be a federal shield law that would limit subpoenas to journalists to cases where the information being sought is critical to the investigation and there’s no other way to get it, and if we had a law like that, it would protect 98 percent of the confidential sources that journalists use, and it would not protect Judith Miller, I’m afraid.
TERENCE SMITH (Newshour): Do you agree it would not protect Judith Miller in this case?
BILL KELLER: I think that’s correct. That’s why I said we’re talking about two separate things. One is the whole realm of what the law ought to provide in the way of protections or does provide, and the other is what happens when you run out of legal protection but you still feel like you have a moral obligation to stick by your promise?
Two days later, this editorial in the Boston Globe, and this columnby Paul Tash in the St. Petersburg Times ignore what Keller said: a Federal shield law would not have protected Miller, who is engaged in an act of civil disobedience. (Globe says: “Judith Miller carried an important journalistic tool with her to jail. Congress should protect Miller, and the national interest” by passing the national shield law. Wrong-o, Globe.)
Daily Howler gets suspicious: “When the press corps’ interests and preferences are at stake, they will issue a blizzard of spin. If you want to know why average people see this gang as a perfumed elite, read through the ludicrous, one-sided work they’re churning about this complex matter.”
Finally, Whiskey Bar’s Billmon (former journalist, now lefty blogger) wanted to “see if I could come up with something more substantial than moral disgust to justify putting Judy Miller behind bars.” But he couldn’t.
Posted by Jay Rosen at July 7, 2005 1:23 PM
Bob Novak with host Ed Henry, CNN's Inside Politics, June 29.
Watch how Novak invents an accusation so as to seem victimized, and then tells a colleague (Henry) that the colleague knows nothing ahout the case.
HENRY: Bob, first, what's your reaction to the Supreme Court saying they would not hear this case?
BOB NOVAK, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I deplore the thought of reporters -- I've been a reporter all my life -- going to jail for any period of time for not revealing sources, and there needs to be a federal shield law preventing that as there are shield laws in 49 out of 50 states. But, Ed, I -- my lawyer said I cannot answer any specific questions about this case until it is resolved, which I hope is very soon.
HENRY: In general, though, you believe in the principle of keeping the identity secret,of confidential sources. Have you ever revealed the identity of one of your confidential sources?
NOVAK: Well, people know -- who have read my column know there have been special case where I have. But the question of being coerced to by the government and being put in prison is, I think, something that should be protected by act of Congress.
HENRY: In general, have you cooperated with investigators in this case?
NOVAK: I can't answer any questions about this case at all.
HENRY: Okay. Now, just in general about the principle at stake here -- William Safire, fellow conservative, wrote an op ed in the New York Times saying that at the very least, he believes that you owe your readers, and in this case, your viewers, some explanation. He said, "Mr. Novak should finally write the column he owes readers and colleagues perhaps explaining how his two sources, who may have truthfully revealed themselves to investigators, managed to get the prosecutor off his back."
I think that's the question. Why sit that there are two reporters out there who may go to jail, Bob, but it doesn't appear that you are going to go to jail?
NOVAK: Well, that's what I can't reveal until this case is finished. I hope it is finished soon. And when it does, I agree with Mr. Safire, I will reveal all in a column and on the air.
HENRY: Do you understand why in general there's frustration among fellow journalist after 41 years of distinguished work, where you've always pushed and been a fierce advocate of the public's right to know, you're not letting the public know about such a critical case, and two people may go to jail.
NOVAK: Well, they are not going to jail because of me. Whether I answer your questions or not, it has nothing to do with that. That's very ridiculous to think that I am the cause of their going to jail. I don't think they should be going to jail.
HENRY: Yes. But I didn't say you were the cause. But there are some people--
NOVAK: Yes, you do did.
HENRY: No, but some people feel if you would come forward with the information that you have, that maybe they would not go to jail.
NOVAK: But you don't know -- Ed, you don't know anything about the case. And those people who say that don't know anything about the case. And unfortunately, as somebody who likes to write, I'd like to say a lot about the case, but because of my attorney's advice I can't. But I will. And there might be some surprising things.
HENRY: We'll all be waiting to hear that story finally told, Bob.
Interesting - folks who follow the link to Pincus' story may wonder whether Novak had a similar experience:
On July 12, 2003, an administration official, who was talking to me confidentially about a matter involving alleged Iraqi nuclear activities, veered off the precise matter we were discussing and told me that the White House had not paid attention to former Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s CIA-sponsored February 2002 trip to Niger because it was set up as a boondoggle by his wife, an analyst with the agency working on weapons of mass destruction.
I wrote my October story because I did not think the person who spoke to me was committing a criminal act, but only practicing damage control by trying to get me to stop writing about Wilson. Because of that article, The Washington Post and I received subpoenas last summer from Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor looking into the Plame leak. Fitzgerald wanted to find out the identity of my source.
I refused. My position was that until my source came forward publicly or to the prosecutor, I would not discuss the matter. It turned out that my source, whom I still cannot identify publicly, had in fact disclosed to the prosecutor that he was my source, and he talked to the prosecutor about our conversation. (In writing this story, I am using the masculine pronoun simply for convenience). My attorney discussed the matter with his attorney, and we confirmed that he had no problem with my testifying about our conversation.
How about that? The source came forward, identified himself to Fitzgerald, and let Pincus chat to Fitzgerald as well.
Now, suppose that same person was also Novak's source, and behaved the same way. Wouldn't it follow that Novak has also cooperated, and the source has been identified?
Put another way, maybe someone can tell us why that is not possible.
I think it's premature to be rendering judgment on Novak at this point, especially since I believe it's based on conflating two facts in Novak's original column about Plame as being from from the same source:
Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction. Two senior administration officials told me Wilson's wife suggested sending him to Niger to investigate the Italian report. The CIA says its counter-proliferation officials selected Wilson and asked his wife to contact him.
There are two distinct points in this paragraph: 1) Plame works for the CIA. 2) She arranged for her husband to be sent to Niger.
Isn't it possible that the "two senior administration officials" only told Novak the second point and that he already knew (either from common knowledge as he says) or by some other means?
What lends credibility to this scenario is the fact that Novak doesn't appear to be bound for the slammer in any way. This suggests (though neither the columnist nor the prosecutor will confirm it) that Novak did appear before the grand jury and revealed at least how he came to know Fact #1. As a man who's been probably the biggest success for the longest time, he's been on the beat since the 1960s, I highly doubt that Novak would have compromised a source who told him something in confidence.
From this we may conclude that Novak either aquired knowledge of Plame's career through non-confidential means or that his source released him from said agreement. It's not likely that the second scenario occurred because a person who knowingly disclosed classified information has committed a serious crime and therefore has no motive to tell a grand jury (s)he did so.
Having eliminated the second possibility, let's turn to the first one. Three possible scenarios flow from it: 1) Plame's career was common knowledge and Novak's source did not think that revealing this would be a criminal offense. Therefore, an administration source told Novak but not under a confidentiality agreement. Subsequently, Novak told the grand jury about this. 2) Novak obtained his information from someone outside the White House or from a fellow journalist such as Matt Cooper or Judy Miller.
In the end, I think it's too soon to render judgment on Novak's actions. If, as I believe, Novak's knowledge of Plame's career and her alleged involvement with her husband's Africa trip came from separate sources, I'm not sure there's anything he could say that would have helped Cooper and Miller avoid jail, especially if Plame's identity wasn't privileged information.
As for Fitzgerald, I find it hard to condone his prosecution. According to Ann Althouse, the judge in the case seems to be a jerk, too. Incredibly, he actually said this at Miller's sentencing:
"That's the child saying: 'I'm still going to take that chocolate chip cookie and eat it. I don't care.'"
As someone who has worked a good deal for the New York Times as a free-lancer and studied the issues under discussion here as an academic, let me make a couple of humble points.
First of all, for those who missed the link before in previous Press Think posts, you might want to review my study on whether journalism is a bona fide profession.
IS JOURNALISM A BONA FIDE PROFESSION? What the literature and the law reveal.
Second, I have a theory for why the management at the Times' is handling the Judith Miller case by allowing her to go to jail. I have not fully fleshed out my thoughts on this at The Locust Fork blog, in part because I am keeping some of my powder dry in hopes of continuing to help a great newspaper that obviously needs some serious help right now.
But here's the deal. Remember when Bill Keller sat down with Karl Rove back during the presidential campaign?
And remember what Keller said recently about the Times needing to move beyond its liberal, urban base?
Then, read some of the Times' coverage of the fraud trial of HealthSouth's Richard Scrushy.
I think Keller was deeply affected by the tenor of Rove's harangue. And I think the lack of access by Times' reporters to the Bush campaign, mentioned in the same New Yorker article linked above, hurt the paper's ability to cover national politics. And this was a serious problem for a paper that has always enjoyed access to the highest levels of government and a reputation as the national newspaper of record.
So the Times has gone to great links since to try and demonstrate to the Bush administration that it can be "fair and balanced."
Read the coverage of the recent Billy Graham crusade in New York, and this recent guest op/ed column with a sympathetic nod to the dangerous patrician of the Christian Right, Pat Robertson.
I am not privy to the discussions about the future of the Times as a business/profit center - but someone up there has decided that it is all about the money.
What does this have to do with Judith Miller? It is pretty obvious at this point that she is protecting Karl Rove, who may have committed a federal crime by outing a federal agent. If loyal Times readers - who have a tendency to be educated, liberal folk - found out the depth the Times' would go to to restore its access to what many of us consider to be a highly corrupt administration, well you get the point. There goes the readership and the money.
By going to jail, Miller can come off as a journalist hero. Unfortunately, the joke is on the Times. Karl Rove could care less whether the Times has access or public credibility. In fact, I suspect he is laughing all the way to the bar as Ms. Miller sits in a New York jail.
The MSM has yet to figure out just how cynical and corrupt this administration can be. The Washington Post, oddly enough, is no better in these times. I was struck by Bob Woodward's comments recenlty on NPR, when he talked about Nixon as a "criminal president."
So when will we figure out that Bush is also a criminal president? With a criminal for a political adviser?
Keller described the judge's action in the case as "confounding." It is not confounding to me. The point is to destroy the credibility of the press before they have a chance to bring on the second term investigation that will doom the Republican Party's chances of holding the White House in 2008.
If the Times and Post won't take the bastards on, then there are some of us in the blogosphere who will - whether we have the requisite recourses or not.
The press should stop pandering to these people to try and restore their access. In the old days when the press had real power in this land, we would have just pounded the hell out of the politicians, day in a day out, until the truth came out.
Thomas Jefferson had it right more than 200 years ago. But we seem to have forgotten his sage advice.
"Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press...that cannot be limited without being lost."
So forget the limits. Tell the damn truth.
Jay, I really do like the fact that you tried to respond reasonably to Lee Kane--but as Lee said, you seem to be calling, prematurely, for punishment for Novak -- because Novak was willing to testify and Miller wasn't.
You had a nice profile of Ms. Miller, who was in favor of Iraq invasion because of WMDs -- totally believing 1998 Clinton; and prolly pretty opposed to fascists like Saddam and Saddam's lousy human rights (OK, Amnesty didn't call his Abu Ghraib a Gulag, but they did say it was terrible). C. Hitchens makes a pretty strong Bush-hating pro-Iraq war case. (Another argument is that the Left's opposition to booting Saddam is killing the Left.) Other than Iraq, is there any Miller position not hard Left?
When the facts finally come out, and I've been eating a lot of popcorn so far with more on the way, I'll be able to more intelligently judge. So far: Miller is stupid not to testify. Nixon the liar had to deliver the tapes, after a court fight. I doubt that her time in jail will make her a martyr.
I think the NYT is too far gone in discrediting itself to ever get access to BushCo; by 2008 there will be a more balanced press.
More popcorn with Lovelady and calboy!
"We need to start making a distinction between journalists and carnival barkers." from Steve.
Ha! On an earlier thread, he suggested consequences should be looked at.
I agreed! Look at the Left policy under Nixon (Vietnam) -- "US OUT NOW", look at what happened: genocide.
And what does the "carnival barker" talk about? Nixon lied! Illegal bombing! My Lai! All true ... but so what?
Left policy: US leave.
The consequence of doing the policy the Left advocated. No matter how bad Nixon was (I voted Carter in 76 because Ford pardoned Nixon -- and because Ford with a football between his legs was such a joke), the consequence of following the Left policy was genocide.
The consequence of no invasion of Iraq? Saddam stays as dictator, but stronger -- having "won" against the US/UN/West again. The consequence of Clinton policy in Rwanda? Genocide. The consequence of UN/Leftist policy in Sudan, today, this week, this month, this year; last year? Genocide--in slow motion, nearly unmentioned in Live8 'aid' for Africa.
[now, back to your regularly scheduled psychoses]
Wow, Kilgore. You got me pegged. Not only did I go to public schools as a youth, I graduated from a land grant college. Was it the bib overalls and straw hat that gave me away?
But I assumed you had something deeper to say about the New York Times than it's 'liberal' and elitist. That's such a narrowly drawn cliche. Say, are you a product of private schools?
Not that the Times can't be parochial as any small-town weekly. It can. But in its drive to be "America's paper", it's base is far wider than Central Park West. The Times speaks to power, where ever it fits on the political/corporate spectrum. Not some mythical liberal cabal.
But if that's what comforts you, fine.
Aside to calboy: Now, see. Once you step away from the cranky ol' fart pose obsessing over those danged liberals, you become a little more real.
I'd say the media have treated both Clinton and Bush equally. Equally mediocre, that is. Rather than look at significance of their leadership, the media focused on the inane and irrelevant. Or played 'inside baseball' and cozied up to the powermakers. The true sin of the media, I believe, is they are far too concerned with being players on the scene. Liberal or conservative has nothing to do with it.
But I must add, you have me mistaken with someone else: your religious views or lack of them is irrelevant to me. And, frankly, I don't care if you or kilgore show up under your real names or not. You'll always be calboy to me.
When I get to Colorado, I'll bring a six-pack or two of Tecate.
A covert CIA agent was outed as the result of Bob Novak's column. Those are the facts. Whether this act involves a serious federal crime depends on the motives and knowledge of the parties involved. Every other fact necessary to trigger the law at issue was established when Novak's column ran.
All that remains to be determined, then, is whether the info was leaked by govt. officials subject to the law, and whether those persons were aware of Plame's covert status.
David Corn's analysis, linked by Jay above, spells this out much better than I do. And he provides a very plausible scenario for Novak to have escaped the contempt charge by agreeing to answer Fitzgearld's questions with his source's (Rove's?) permission, without implicating the sources in criminal conduct.
But I think David's theory falls short in failing to consider that Fitzgerald would not likely ask the court to jail reporters if all he had was a suspicion that Novak and/or his sources were lying when they claimed they did not know Plame's covert status, and that it is unlikely the court would jail the reports on such a speculative showing by Fitzgearld.
Rather, Fitzgearld most likely has some strong, but not sufficient, evidence that Plame's covert status was intentionally disclosed, that the whole purpose of outing her was to destroy her covert status. Otherwise, I doubt the court would jail miller. Consider what the motive would have been for outing Plame. Was it really just to discredit Wilson (a whistleblower)? There's other ways to do that without potentially committing a serious crime. But if the motive is to punish and ensure against any future damaging leaks from people who have lots of very damaging info, then intentionally outing Plame would serve that motive just fine, and might even warrant the risk. "Don't fuck with the President or you'll get your head chopped off." I bet a lot of people heard that loud and clear. (And recall they had a problem, they had to stove-pipe raw info to Cheney for a reason.)
And where might this evidence of criminal intent that Fitzgearld must have come from? From some other witness who testified before the grand jury, probably. But their knowledge is an insufficient basis for prosecution standing alone. Hence the need to get testimony from miller and cooper. Fitzgearld probably has no choice in fulfilling his duties as prosecutor but to go this route based on what he knows, and the court probably feels so compelled as well.
Novak is the guy who provided the vehicle for this probable crime to have been committed. He may even be a willing participant if it was criminal (although he is not subject to prosecution under the disclosue law). Jay is right. Novak should put up or be shut up until he does put up, especially with another reporter sitting in jail. It's unseemly as hell.
Aaiiieee! It's the Attack of the Strawmen---flee for your lives.
Steve S.-I didn't say Pinkerton was a liberal, how would I know and why would I care? What Pinkerton said in his first paragraph was "...if that liberal (media) establishment falls completely..." all hell will break loose because the "ultimate enemy of freedom is the unchecked power of the state." Jeez, I guess Pinkerton has never heard of elections, but even if he had, how would the press stop the permanent bureaucracy in DC---those who are not elected, or come from "safe" states and districts (like mine) ---no matter who is President, or what party is in power. I don't see much press coverage of that. The press obsession is on POTUS (Watergate lives!), not the people who really run things. But no matter, I don't want the press to fight the government---that's my job. Pinkerton also adds this bit of hilarity: "no MSM entity has the resources to wage a long struggle against the government". Apparently, Pinkerton has never heard of GE, Disney, Viacom, Time-Warner etc. I might add that no individual has the resources to wage a long struggle against MSM either (i.e. Richard Jewell, Hatfill, etc.).
Dave, when and where did I ever say that it was OK to out a CIA agent (if that's what Plame was)? The law must be obeyed whether it's Miller or Rove. Also, you mention the "rush to judgment" on the Novak/Plame/Miller thing, but such liberal leading lights as Kevin Drum have delayed "judgment", saying the Plame thing is just too "muddied" to draw any valid conclusions.It's a great parlor game, though, dontchathink?
Nick, I agree, GWB is no conservative, and we should have known that the "compassionate" part of conservatism would have a big pricetag attached. My biggest disappointment is that the Congressional Republican majority just laid down and died, instead of standing by their (supposed) principles. But still, I'm no conservative, or Republican, for that matter.
Which brings me to our (un)congenial host. I know what you are trying to accomplish by branding me as an "ideologue" and "culture warrior", and why you make comments like "Careful, culture war may be rotting your brain." This is your "sophisticated" way of diminishing me. In a cruder context you would use fag, slut, spic, kike, nigger,camel jockey, retard, etc. I'd rather you addressed my comments (demented though they may appear to you) than resort to name-calling. Do you really wonder why I won't tell you more about myself?
Les, I am interested in Luskin's theory that supposedly allows Rove to disclose Plame's CIA status and escape criminal culpability. Luskin said Rove was trying to steer Cooper away from bad info from Wilson. Others have characterized it as legitimately showing a critic of the president to be biased or unreliable.
And I ask, what did Wilson say that was wrong or unreliable, factually? "Nothing" is the answer. Tenet arguably gave his mea culpa because of Wilson. Here's what they wanted to attack, I believe. And wouldn't you know it, it's more of that Downing Street Memo talk:
If my information was deemed inaccurate, I understand (though I would be very interested to know why). If, however, the information was ignored because it did not fit certain preconceptions about Iraq, then a legitimate argument can be made that we went to war under false pretenses.
Wilson feared the WH was doing what the DSM said it was doing: fixing the intelligence and facts around the policy. It appeared that, because his report undercut Cheney's pet claim that Saddam was building nukes (or trying to), it got buried. And not only did it get buried, but the President reported the exact oppositie conclusion to the American people in his SOTUS leading up to the war, a conclusion he was forced to abandon as false after the invasion and right after Wilson's column ran.
I can see why they'd want to destroy Wilson for raising these questions (sound familiar?), and deter other would-be whistle blowers. But I see no legitimate reason for trashing his wife's career just because he is raising legitimate questions about their justifications for the war. And now that we have 20-20 hindsight and the benefits of the DSM (corroboration from a 3rd party intelligence agency), we know Wilson was indeed raising legitimate and well-founded concerns in his column. Heck, we knew that when Tenet issued his mea culpa.
So, I don't see Luskin having a winning defense theory as articulated thus far that get's Rove off the hook. It does not hold up. All Wilson did was tell the truth and express his opinions and concern. He was not spreading misinformation. The WH was.
McClellan lied. Over and over again, whether intentionally or not,
The Left doesn't understand that a LIE is a deliberate thing, where an untruth is an unintentional thing.
"I was in Cambodia at Christmas" -- this is a deliberate lie, intentional. Like "I never had sex with that woman," after getting oral sex.
"Saddam has WMDs" -- this is merely untrue if the one saying it believes it (if untrue, not yet proven; likely true for nukes).
Thanks, antimedia, for nice facts. I'm waiting for Novak to tell more, after the investigation; if Rove committed a crime, he's got to go. If "involved" w/o a crime (what does that mean?), it will likely be fudged so he can stay; so what if there's more polarization.
Of course, for radical Dems, any Rep becomes guilty upon accusation -- that's one way to police their PC media positions.
Jay's call for punishment against Novak BEFORE a trial verdict is the typical Leftist PC-thought police kind of reaction to enforce conformity. No such calls against Eason Jordan or Dan Rather -- but I confess to agreeing that not listening to those who are "bad" is a reasonable punishment. (Disagreement on who is "bad".)
Miller's going to jail because she won't testify in a trial -- I certainly support higher whistleblower protection, but if we don't have such laws, the Dems should be proposing them. I understand some are proposed, but such would also not protect Miller in this case. She can't be a martyr until the facts are known.
Yesterday morning I sent this to the Key White House Journalists and others:
"We need your help. It's time to be a journalist again.
If ALL of you do your jobs, Rove and these thugs can no longer intimidate you.
Please focus on the NEWS. DARE to ask the toughest questions, and for
God's sake, FOLLOW UP with a question that actually gets to the ANSWERS.
America needs you.
Today, it's time for a new message...
The key White House Reporters obviously engaged in a bit of a conspiracy of their own yesterday (finally) to take these bastards on in numbers rather than individually. The tide has turned.
Obviously McClellan has made it known that he will stonewall the media on any questions pertaining to Rove. Today I'm going to be sending out more e-mails suggesting the following of these reporters:
"THANK YOU from all patriotic Americans, THANK YOU for holding McClellan's feet to the fire and making him personally accountable to the people of this country, for whom he works.
As this administration has obviously CONSPIRED to prevent you from learning the truth, it's time to counter these tactics with a conspiracy of your own. If ALL OF YOU collectively refuse to ask any question other than those pertaining to Rove's Treason, The White House Press Briefings will themselves become an indictment of this administration. McClellan lied right to your faces, repeatedly, and now he doesn't want to talk about it?
Consider this strategy to be a Press Fillibuster - for as many days as it takes - until McClellan or the President himself ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS. Let's see how the opinion polls deal with a few days of "No Comment" from the President's spokesperson, or the President himself.
There are NO OTHER TOPICS to ask questions on until these questions are ANSWERED (unless of course they want to switch the subject to who was actually behind 9/11 and what Dick Cheney and NORAD were really up to on that morning)."
Steve, why do you persist in making false claims?
Even if Plame played a minor role in Wilson being chosen to make the trip, the trip was undertaken to explore the validity of the forged documents/agreements, per the request of Cheney's office (it certainly was not Plame who "sent him" as Novak and Rove misrepresent). And Wilson was well qualified to do the mission, no one disputes that. And besides, Wilson's findings were correct.
1) You claim Plame played a minor role, yet I gave you the cites from the SICR, including page numbers
, that prove that a) She suggested Wilson for the trip, b) she wrote a memo proffering his bona fides c) she convened the damn meeting where his trip was discussed and d) she attended his debriefing. This is "minor"?
Please try to maintain some semblance of objectivity.
2) You state that "Cheney's office" requested the trip. Do you have some proof of this? There's nothing in the SICR to indicate that the trip originated outside the CPD. If you know otherwise, please provide proof.
Further you write:
In an effort to inquire about certain reports involving Niger [these were the forged documents Cheney's office hoped to corroborate and use as proof that Sadam was after nukes/uranium], CIA's counter-proliferation experts, on their own initiative, asked an individual with ties to the region to make a visit to see what he could learn.
First of all, this statement clearly refutes your earlier statement that Cheney's office requested the trip. Which is it? You don't get to have your cake and eat it to, Steve. Make up your mind which story you're going to tell.
Second, your statement "these were the forged documents Cheney's office hoped to corroborate and use as proof that Sadam was after nukes/uranium" is provably false, since the existence of the forged documents wasn't even know until several months later! Wilson arrived in Niger on 2/26/2002 (SICR - pg 42). The forged Italian documents were made available to the US Embassy in Rome by an Italian journalist on October 9, 2002 (SICR - 57).
Can you at least get one fact straight?
Finally, you ask
You say he "lied." At least tell us the lie. And why would he? It's perposterous. It would be treasonous to lie to the CIA and the president and decieve them on matters of war and peace as you suggest. What would he gain in exchange for doing that?
I'm appalled that I have to show you this, since you can easily find the information yourself. What is this world coming to?
Page 42 - Wilson arrived in Niger on February 26, 2002. US Ambassador Owens-Kirkpatrick reported that Wilson said "he had reached the same conclusions that the embassy had reached, that it was highly unlikely that anything was going on."
Page 43 - Wilson was debriefed in his own home, with his wife present (acting as a hostess) and a report was generated as a result. The report indicated that in June 1999 a "businessman" approached Niger about "expanding commercial relations" with Iraq, and the Nigerian minister understood that to mean "uranium yellowcake sales."
Wilson also reported a meeting with "an Iraqi delegation" and the Nigerian minister. Page 44 - When Wilson met with the SIC, he indicated that the CIA had told him there were "documents pertaining to the alleged Iraq-Niger uranium transaction" and that the source of the information was the [blanked out] intelligence service. However, the CIA refutes that stating that Wilson was never shown any information about the sources or details of the alleged transaction.
Here you have the CIA claiming that Wilson lied to them. Furthermore, Wilson claimed there was no attempt by the Iraqis to obtain yellowcake uranium from Niger when he himself
reported on an Iraqi attempt to do the very thing he claims they did not do!
If that isn't lying, then what in God's name is?
Further refuting Wilson's lies is the following.
Page 47 - On March 25,2002, the CIA issued a third and final report from "the same [foreign] government service" stating that the report indicted a 2000 agreement between Niger and Iraq to deliver 500 tons of uranium a year. This is after Wilson's trip to Niger, in which he stated publicly that there was "nothing" to the story, while reporting something different to the CIA.
During this same period of time, the CIA Iraqi analyst indicated that there were "several other intelligence reports of Iraqi interest in uranium from other countries in Africa" including the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Somalia.
Page 50 - the British issued a white paper on September 24, 2002 stating that "there is intelligence that Iraq has sought the supply of significant quantities of uranium from Africa."
You claim it's preposterous that Wilson would lie. If evidence isn't enough to convince you, then you have some bias you're not willing to admit.
Why would Wilson do it? Ask him. He was feted by the press - treated to front page, above the fold headlines - toasted on all the liberal cocktail circuits. He made a great deal of money on his book. He's a lifetime liberal who hated the President. Can you, for one minute, imagine what might be his motivation?
Antimedia, i may be wrong on the forged documents date (although Wilson says the documents that served as the basis for his trip were suspected forgeries), but even if I am, it's an inconsequential side issue. The Niger uranium allegation was always extremely dubious.
July 13 2003
Washington, DC - CIA Director George J. Tenet successfully intervened with White House officials to have a reference to Iraq seeking uranium from Niger removed from a presidential speech last October, three months before a less specific reference to the same intelligence appeared in the State of the Union address, according to senior administration officials.
Tenet argued personally to White House officials, including deputy national security adviser Stephen Hadley, that the allegation should not be used because it came from only a single source, according to one senior official. Another senior official with knowledge of the intelligence said the CIA had doubts about the accuracy of the documents underlying the allegation, which months later turned out to be forged.
The new disclosure suggests how eager the White House was in January to make Iraq's nuclear program a part of its case against Saddam Hussein even in the face of earlier objections by its own CIA director.
And Cheney's office was the reason Wilson was sent to Niger. Cheney's office wanted the Niger story worked up/pursued. So the CIA sent him.
As for Wilson "lying" to the CIA, I just don't see the lie. The DCIA Tenet didn't see it, either. No one in the CIA did:
Details about the alleged attempt by Iraq to buy as much as 500 tons of uranium oxide were contained in a national intelligence estimate (NIE) that was concluded in late September 2002. It was that same reference that the White House wanted to use in Bush's Oct. 7 speech that Tenet blocked, the sources said. That same intelligence report was the basis for the 16-word sentence about Iraq attempting to buy uranium in Africa that was contained in the January State of the Union address that has drawn recent attention.
Administration sources said White House officials, particularly those in the office of Vice President Cheney, insisted on including Hussein's quest for a nuclear weapon as a prominent part of their public case for war in Iraq. Cheney had made the potential threat of Hussein having a nuclear weapon a central theme of his August 2002 speeches that began the public buildup toward war with Baghdad.
I give you an "A" for zeal, but it's painfully obvious that your attempts to stretch the facts to fit the alibi fall short.
Steve, there's one difference this time. As Billmon noted in a recent post, Rove's dirty tricks work great when all they have to do is spin and obfuscate and unleash their smear machine and media puppets on the public. They can turn up into down and black into white for enough people to prevail in the public arena almost at will.
But it's different this time.
The Rovians, in other words, may be fghting the last war -- relying on the propaganda weapons that worked so well in a political campaign to try to defeat an opponent who doesn't have to worry about winning 270 electoral votes. You can defend yourself against an indictment or you can cop a plea. The one thing you can't do is spin it away.
Awhile back I wrote that truth no longer stands much of a chance in the political arena -- not when it's pitted against the best modern propaganda machine that money can buy. But the question now is whether the truth, armed with subpoena power and the federal rules of evidence, can still prevail in a court of law. By the time this particular legal battle is over, we may know the answer.
As for the law, as in the real law, in this case, here's what the 7th Circuit, for example, has to say about people like Rove who think they are super duper slick and can get away with anything by coming up with cute excuses, like "I did not know she was a covert agent. I'm an innocent whistle blower!"
"Courts often say that knowledge may be proved by demonstrating that the defendant was conscious of a substantial chance that some fact [occurred], but averted his eyes for fear of learning more. See United States v. Ramsey, 785 F.2d 184 (7th Cir. 1986); United States v. Giovannetti, 919 F.2d 1223 (7th Cir. 1990), rehearing denied, 928 F.2d 225 (1991). "An ostrich instruction informs the jury that actual knowledge and deliberate avoidance of knowledge are the same thing. When someone knows enough to put him on inquiry, he knows much. If a person with a lurking suspicion goes on as before and avoids further knowledge, this may support an inference that he has deduced the truth and is simply trying to avoid giving the appearance (and incurring the consequences) of knowledge." Ramsey, 785 F.2d at 189. Behaving like an ostrich supports an inference of actual knowledge...."
Maybe Rove will get lucky again. But maybe he won't. It's not in his control this time. The judge is no pansy like most of the press who just let the spin spin on by and report it like it's the truth.
I am rather surprised at some of the positions taken here. Novak is to be shunned because he cooperated with an investigation that the NYT called for, but Miller is to be cannonized for not cooperating with the same investigation? We should be demanding that Novak speak publicly, but Miller doesn't have to cooperate with a secret grand jury investigation and a special prosecutor? And why is Novak being hammered? He very likely was asked not to go public while the investigation is ongoing. So he is cooperating.
Karl Rove very likely did not 'out' Valerie Plame, at least by the legal definition. There are three requirements. She must have been covert in the last 5 years. She was compromised by Alridge Ames, and very likely was no longer covert for that reason. Whether the specific change was more or less than 5 years ago is not particularly interesting, nor given the next two points, relevant.
The second requirement is that Rove had access to the official files and KNEW she was covert. That is a pretty tough test to meet. Furthermore, I would bet cash money that Rove found out that she worked at CIA either from the DC party circuit, or from a journalist, likely Miller either directly or indirectly. Rove very likely never had access to official CIA files, as required to break the law. Rove knew (thought?) she was CIA, not that she was covert. Thus no crime.
The third requirement is that he did it to hurt national security. Again, no way. The Press has breathlessly reported that the motive was to 'get back' at Wilson by outing his wife. That makes no sense, at least to me. First, everyone knowing that your wife is CIA doesn't hurt credibility, if anything it helps. Second, Occams razor dictates a far simpler explanation...that her status as CIA was relevant to the fact that she got him the job (and yes, nepotism is both a crime and against regulations) which explains how a partisan hack from the opposition ended up in such a sensitive position as verifying intel regarding Iraq's WMD efforts. Karl Rove clearly wasn't trying to 'hurt' Wilson, he was explaining how a hack managed to get in a position to do such damage. The answer...nepotism from his wife at the agency.
So Rove doesn't meet at least two of the three requirements for the law, and possibly none of the three. So what is being investigated?
Just because Rove doesn't meet the requirements for a crime doesn't mean that no one does, nor is that the only possible crime. It may have started as an investigation of the Plame/Wilson situation, but it is entirely possible that Fitzgerald has reason to believe other crimes were committed. At the very least they might have chased the chain of Plame CIA knowledge back to Miller.
Miller worked the Iraq WMD beat, and obviously had sources at CIA that leaked information multiple times. If any of that was classified, that is a crime. Given their partisan antics, there is a good chance that Plame herself was a leaker and thus a criminal. If Miller's source at CIA for WMD was not Plame, there is an excellent chance that that person is the one who clued Miller into Plame/Wilson...and that might fit the three part definition of the crime Rove is being accused of. Just the simple act of Plame getting her husband the job could be investigated as nepotism. It is also possible that someone committed perjury, and Miller's testimony would be essential to establish that.
I don't know what Fitzgerald is thinking. But neither do any of you. There are only two people who have the full picture...the prosecutor and the judge, and they both saw fit to put Miller in jail to compel her testimony. They think she is sitting on something important...and she thinks it is important enough to go to jail to protect. I'd be willing to bet they have a much better picture of what is going on and why.
I don't believe for a second that Miller is protecting Rove (who gave blanket permission for people who talked to him confidentially to talk to prosecutors 18 months ago...Cooper was just a little slow on the uptake). What I think Miller is protecting is her own and the NYT reputations and credibility. SPECULATION FOLLOWS The NYT were at the very least using highly biased sources without presenting that perspective to their readers. Given her sources at CIA, Miller may well have known that Wilson's famous oped was in contradiction to his actual CIA report before it was published. She might have also known that he got the job as an act of nepotism based partisan politics when the NYT was giving Wilson his platform. If true, leaving that information out would be a serious journalist breach, no? How much credibility would the NYT lose if Miller's records reveal she knew Wilson's oped was a lie when it was published? This is obviously speculation, but it would be a solid reason to go to jail to 'protect your sources' rather than seriously damage your own and your organization's credibility. Jay talks a lot about this administrations efforts to decertify the press. Revelations like that would go a long way towards moving 'the paper of record' to the Upper West Side Daily. (Cue threatening music) Perhaps Karl Rove is orchestrating the whole thing...
Finally, with all this outrage about Rove 'outing' a likely no longer covert, and at least already compromised, agent where is the outrage at the NYT's outing of the CIA's current aviation program? The NYT put far more people, in far more immediate danger and compromised far more ongoing operations and will without a doubt hurt our national security and cost the taxpayers millions to recreate the capability for covert aviation operations. Now, I'm not saying that they committed a crime or that the gov't should have censored them or should prosecute them, but a little publishers discretion would have gone a long way. I know if I were Pinch, I would have squashed that article in the interest of national security and the interest of the safety of people working for our security. Would you have, Jay? And do you think we should shunning the Gray Lady the way you are advocating we shun Novak? If we are going to get on a high horse about outings, the NYT should be the first to get knocked from the saddle.
I am still stunned how you can condemn someone who cooperated with an investigation for not going public, but support someone who refuses to talk at all. Especially when her paper is blasting other people for 'stonewalling' Hey, NYT, you don't have to tell me everything you know, but you should be cooperating with criminal investigators. And there is no way the NYT can criticize ANYONE (McClellan) for not talking about this whole situation. Rank hypocrisy. Judy Miller and the NYT have a much more complete picture of this whole situation than they are giving their readers.
Nick Perez wrote
Also,you can't seriously suggest that the media, by and large haven't given Bush and Co. a free ride up to this point.And by the way, the White House press are by and large a bunch of idiots who have very little clue what the right questions are or the right followup when you get pablum or misdirection.
Nick, you cannot possibly be serious! If you are, you're deluded almost beyond description.
Here's an example of how the media has given Bush a free ride.
NBC 40 - 1
CBS 30 - 0
ABC 18 - 1
WaPo 96 - 2
NY Times 70 - 3
LA Times 48 - 2
The first number is the number of stories promoting Wilson's lies. The second number is the number of stories exposing Wilson's lies once they were proven by the Senate Intelligence Committee Report. I won't even get in to where the former appeared (above the fold, page one and leading the evening report) as opposed to where the latter appeared.
Daniel Conover wrote
Anybody else notice how antimedia showed up yesterday flashing a line of logic that was practically identical to the GOP talking points that were being circulated more or less at the same time?
I know this might come as a shock to you, Daniel, but contrary to the apparent majority of the commenters, I actually am capable of both reading and
thinking for myself. I've never been a member of any party except the Libertarian party (for one year), and I've never been to any
site where there are "talking points". This is because I don't need to be spoon fed my thoughts. I'm quite capable of thinking on my own, as should be quite clear from my comments in this thread.
A thinking person might actually question why my points so closely match the "talking points" when I obtained them independently of any political site. (I actually read the SICR, for example.) It could actually be possible that the Republicans are using facts for their talking points! (I don't know that for a fact, because I've not seen them. Nor do I care what their "talking points" are.)
As opposed to comments such as yours, invoking ad hominem to disabuse readers of the notion that I might actually have a point, I posted fact after fact after fact, none of which have been refuted by any commenter in this thread.
When I posted about Wilson's lies regarding his wife's involvement, irrefutable facts, commenters began attacking those facts by saying they were "unimportant" or "immaterial to the discussion of whether or not Rove committed a crime" or they could be "understood" in a different way. (As if there's more than one way to "understand" facts.)
So far, not one of the facts I've posted has been refuted by anyone. Many, on the other hand, have used ad hominem and condescension in an attempt to "refute" them. It hasn't worked, other than to strengthen the resolve of those who only care to see the "truth" they believe in rather than the facts of what took place.
Considering this is a journalism blog and many commenters are journalists, that ought to trouble a few of them at least. That it apparently doesn't is merely proof of the bias they insist does not exist.
Steve Lovelady wrote
Now that Daniel Conover has exposed "antimedia" as a talking point parrot from the RNC, "antimedia" mysteriously disappears, only to be immediaately replaced by "blanknoone."
Frankly, Steve, I have no idea who "blanknoone" is nor do I need his or her help to argue. But I do find your sanctimonious and condescending attitude a bit off-putting. I hope you aren't as uncivil in person.
As far as Conover "exposing" me, please don't make me laugh. Conover hasn't a clue what he's talking about. I hardly have time to sit around here conducting a pissing contest with the likes of you and your cronies. I just stopped by this evening to see if you were all still stewing in your juices, and sure enough, you were. (It's actually comforting in a way to know that some things don't change.)
But enough of these silly games. Let's get to the crux of the matter.
Many of you argue that Rove is guilty of deliberately "outing" a CIA undercover operative for partisan purposes. This despite the manifest evidence that it is untrue.
But nevermind my arguments nor any supposed "talking points" or other silly excuses for arguing.
I'd like one journalist in this discussion to explain this to me.
The above is a link to the amicus brief filed in the D.C. Circuit on behalf of 36 major news organizations and reporters' groups on the question of whether Matt Cooper and Judith Miller should be compelled to reveal the identities of confidential sources.
On page ii of the brief, the lawyers for the media groups assert:
"In this case, there exists ample evidence in the public record to cast serious doubt as to whether a crime has even been committed under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (the "Act") in the investigation underlying the attempts to secure testimony from Miller and Cooper. If in fact no crime under the Act has been committed, then any need to compel Miller and Cooper to reveal their confidential sources should evaporate."
Among the amici --ABC, employer of one Terry Moran, outraged member of the White House press corps, CNN, CBS, FoxNews, and NBC Universal --employer of David Gregory, another of the "hang Rove" crowd. The Washington Post and White House Correspondents are also signatories to the brief that notes
"Plame was not given 'deep cover' required of a covert agent...She worked at a desk job at CIA headquarters, where she could be seen traveling to and from, and active at, Langley. She had been residing in Washington -- not stationed abroad-- for a number of years. As discussed below, the CIA failed to take even its usual steps to prevent publication of her name."
Now, can any of you journalistic geniuses explain this? Did the lawyers perjure themselves in the brief in an attempt to protect the reporters? Or is what they wrote in that brief true?
And I still haven't gotten an answer to the question - has any journalist even bothered to ask Valerie Plame how long it's been since she was in covert ops?
I'll be by tomorrow to see if you genius have got an answer yet.