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October 07, 2003


Cecil Turner

I think the President is on fairly firm ground that a crime was committed. But it's likely the generic one about releasing classified information--which has a lot fewer loopholes than the one pertaining to undercover agents.

But the problem for those who see this as get-W-gate, is that it's increasingly looking like the pot talking to the kettle. Wilson basing his "selective use of intelligence" claim on his Niger trip never made much sense. And as his public statements pile up, it increasingly looks like he's talking for his wife:

"Now, I believe it was done to discourage others from coming forward. At that time there were a lot of analysts who were speaking anonymously to the press about any number of issues related to the intelligence that undergirded the decision to go to war." Meet the Press --Oct 5

"I have every right— and so is my wife—we have every right to participate in the political process of this country. That does not make us traitors to our country." Meet the Press --Oct 5

But they should have moved on rather than try and drag my family into this unfairly. [Crosstalk] But I do think that the reason they did--and I've said this quite publicly--is that they thought that by coming after me they would discourage others from coming forward. The point that they tried to make is that there are consequences if you dare to step forward. And there were any number of analysts who were speaking to the press about the pressure they felt when Cheney went over there. Now I have no way of judging whether that was real or imagined pressure, but you know if they were prepared to say it to the press anonymously they might well have been prepared to come up and say it to their congressman more publicly." Talking Points Memo --Sep 16

I think it's fairly obvious that the only way Wilson can speak authoritatively about CIA analysts' feelings is by asking his wife. And if he's writing NYTimes op-ed's about his wife and her coworkers leaking, they're part of the story.

Hat tip to Tom for the MTP quote. BTW, the new WaPo article clears up her employment timeline (she did in fact join at 22 and continue schooling afterward--as Swopa correctly surmised earlier).

Jane Finch

If one can trust the NYTimes, GWB is doing the old bob and weave shuffle on this one...the leaker may never be found! Must be hiding with the WMDs....but serioussly, this is a decisive and ethical response?


Jane, you tax me (typical Dem, we note). Honest Injun, is this a decisive and ethical response?

I think the WH as a team should have done more. One reason they have not is that part of the team is on a different page, since the criminal cloud hangs over this. And I agree with Cecil, the specific covert agents act is riddled with loopholes; a conventional "disclosure of classified info" charge may stick, and that point has not been dissected amongst the commentariat.

My theory - Cheney's team, esp. Libby, are urging that it be ignored. Andrew Card has made sure that the President knows the bare minimum (prior to this week, at least) - the CIA filed a routine complaint, DoJ is looking at it. Why? Because almost anything the President does or says may later be construed by someone as participating in a cover-up.

For example, Advisor A says, here is an aggressive plan to seek the leak; Advisor B counsels a moderate approach, which the Pres accepts. Later, A "remembers", in court or Congress, that the Pres did not push hard for a resolution. Bad headline.

The problem is, the legal process gives people rights, loopholes, and an excuse to hide.

Now, if Dems agreed to immunize everyone, get Congressional testimony, and get "the truth", there would be political pressure to sack the evil-doers, and that would be that.

Since I think the legal process leads to a dead end, and I think the outing was an accident (The CIA confirmed her presence on the payroll to Novak and TIME - how covert was that?) the approach above would be the way to find out what happened, and resolve this.

I actually don't think the Dems want to resolve this, BTW - they are getting great headlines, with more to follow - if the DoJ doesn't prosecute, they scream "cover-up"; if a special prosecutor is appointed, that is a good headline; if the special pros. doesn't bring a case, they scream "cover-up"; and so on.

There is a lot of feigned outrage (some is legit) but most of the screaming is by folks who want an excuse to scream.

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