David Shuster was a clearly dishonest when he deliberately dropped a key qualifier to help Keith Olbermann hype the story that Cheney authorized some of Libby's leaks.
David Shuster was an woefully uninformed when he misread, or failed to read, the NIE before mis-reporting on Libby's leaks.
So I don't think I will give a lot of credence to his latest effort.
However, let's reprise what Bob Woodward and Andrea Mitchell said about the damage done by the Plame leak.
I happen to have been told that the actual damage assessment as to whether people were put in jeopardy on this case did not indicate that there was real damage in this specific instance.
Bob Woodward on Larry King:
They did a damage assessment within the CIA, looking at what this did that [former ambassador] Joe Wilson's wife [Plame] was outed. And turned out it was quite minimal damage. They did not have to pull anyone out undercover abroad. They didn't have to resettle anyone. There was no physical danger to anyone, and there was just some embarrassment. So people have kind of compared -- somebody was saying this was Aldrich Ames or Bob Hanssen, big spies. This didn't cause damage.
[Dana Priest from an on-line chat last November:
Columbia, S.C.: Great Work!
How do you answer critics who point out this may be a 'leak' that could potentially compromise national security, ala the Plame leak?
Dana Priest: I don't actually think the Plame leak compromised national security, from what I've been able to learn about her position. As for my article, we tried to minimize that by not naming the countries involved and, otherwise, no, I don't believe it compromised national security at all.
And more Dana Priest from May 4, 2006:
Valley Forge, Pa.: Hi Dana,
Thanks for doing these chats.
Now we are reading that Valerie Plame was involved with tracking nuclear proliferation/capabilities in Iran. Isn't this old news? (I seem to remember reading this same thing quite a while ago in the MSM - I don't generally read blogs)
From what you hear, was Ms. Plame working on Iran, how important was she to the tracking efforts, and how much has her "outing" really set us back?
Dana Priest: It was reported before that she worked on proliferation issues for the CIA. The leap in this new round of information is that her outing significantly impacted our current intel on Iran. I don't buy it. First, no one person who quit clandestine work four years ago is going to make that big of a dent in current knowledge. But also, nothing like this came up at the time of her outing and I believe it would have. Think we need some actual details. At present it just doesn't smell right.
Or let's tackle the question of Ms. Plame's status from a different direction - did she, her husband, and the CIA act like her classified status was a big deal?
After a careful reading of John Le Carre and Tom Clancy, I have compiled some Helpful Hints for NOCs everywhere:
1. Don't put your name and employer on a publicly available Federal Election Commission disclosure form, especially if your cover is pretty thin.
2. Don't stroll into an inter-agency meeting for no purpose other than to introduce your hubby; folks at the other agencies may fail to pick up on your subtle "NOC vibe" and infer that you are a "CIA WMD managerial type". Unhelpful gossip and memos may follow.
3. Do not permit your husband to write an op-ed for the NY Times in which he admits that he does free-lance consulting for the CIA; rival intel services may follow up on that and investigate his family ties, starting with the devoted spouse. Or, why are you sure they won't - is it worth the risk?
4. If Bob Novak is ranting to a friend of yours on the street that your wife is at the CIA, don't wait two days to contact the CIA press office. The sooner you alert them, the sooner they can begin quashing the story.
5. If you are at the CIA press office and a reporter calls, verify that the person they want to ask about is a NOC *BEFORE* chatting with the reporter; calling back afterwards looks unserious.
6. If you are at the CIA press office and you ask a reporter to sit on a story, make sure the reporter reads you loud and clear. If he doesn't, or there is any doubt, have one of your higher-ups call one of his higher-ups. It worked on the secret prisons story, it worked on the NSA surveillance program story, and it might work for you.
That said - obviously, these rules don't apply if the person's classified status is more of a result of personal history than a Big Deal, and if your intel employer just doesn't care.]
Go with Shuster if you want, but don't expect me to.
MORE: Normally, I would consider "lying weasel" to be a bit over-the-top, but I am inclined to make an exception for Mr. Shuster. Here, for example, is the Murray Waas article that inspired his "reporting". Note that the NIE is mentioned in the second paragraph, and repeatedly thereafter. Yet the Shuster/Olbernann combo went an entire segment without noting that Cheney authorized a leak of the NIE, *not* Plame's CIA affiliation. Just bad luck, or intelligent design? That said, I am striking "lying weasel" from the intro paragraphs and going with "clearly dishonest".
Consider this sentence from Fitzgerald's letter, and as reported:
Original, with emphasis added:
We also note that it is our understanding that Mr. Libby testified that he was authorized to disclose information about the NIE to the press by his superiors.
As we discussed during our telephone conversation, Mr. Libby testified that he was authorized to disclose information to the press by his superiors.
The qualifying clause about the NIE just disappeared, presumably not by accident.
I suppose I should note that Mitchell and Woodward have roles in this investigation which may prompt them to downplay the significance of the leak.