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February 16, 2005

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creepy dude

Well here's how the First Circuit Appeal Court summarizes it:

"On July 14, 2003, columnist Robert Novak published a
column in the Chicago Sun-Times in which he asserted that the decision to send Wilson to Niger had been made “routinely without Director George Tenet’s knowledge,” and, most significant to the present litigation, that “two senior administration officials” told him that Wilson’s selection was at the suggestion of Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, whom Novak described as a CIA “operative on weapons of mass destruction.” Robert Novak, The Mission to Niger, CHI. SUN-TIMES, July 14,
2003, at 31."

They do better than the papers, I agree. But really why the misdirection to the daily rags?

These judges are professionally trained to focus on key facts like laser beams of death. So fisk this passage instead. What's the "significance"?

Forbes

I have to admit I've lost track of what we're really looking for here, but on re-reading what was published in the Sun-Times by Novak, and summary of the same by the Curcuit Appeals Court, it certainly looks like it was public common knowledge that Plame worked at CIA.

Furthermore, that fact has been asserted all along by some people (see: Cliff May), as well as assertions that the many provisions of the Identities Act had not been affirmatively enforced, that Plame had long returned from overseas assignment, and that it was likely that her identity had been compromised in the earlier double agent case (Aldrich Ames/Robert Hanssen--I forget which is the relevent case).

So...what crime has been committed?

I don't think one has--and TM has raised that question all along.

So...what's going on?

I think it's a case of the squeaky wheel getting the grease. The media--politically motivated--barked loud for an investigation, a prosecution, and for Novak's head. Now it's gotten an investigation that is following all of the leads, no matter where they go. In the end, Fitzgerald will issue a scrupulous report so that no one can suggest any sort of cover-up--it's just that no crime was committed IMO.

The MSM believes they are due special first amendment privileges--which, of course, they are not. By turning an all-out, get the WH, political motivation, on this story, they shot themselves in the foot. (This is no different than the CBS Rather/Mapes fiasco. They believed it to be true because it fit their version of "reality.")

creepy dude

Forbes-your opinion is untenable if you actually read the Court's opinion. Skip all the legal mumbo-jumbo about privilege, It's still clear that the Appeals Court thinks this is a big deal.

Presumably, so did the CIA who referred it to Justice, and so did Ashcroft who appointed Fitzgerald, and so did Fitzgerald who is seeking to imprison people who won't talk, and so did Judge Hogan who put the reporters in contempt, and back to the First Circuit who just upheld Hogan's contempt ruling.

The group who says it's not a big deal is limited to certain mostly right blogs with no special access to the facts.

Oh yes, and Cliff May. Supergenius. When's the last time he has alleged that Plame's identity was well known on the cocktail circuit btw?

GT

Tom,

It's ironic that you would choose an issue involving Judith Miller, universally despised by the left for having helped propagate false information on WMDs, as an example of NYT's liberal cocoon.

TM

Tom,

It's ironic...

Re: Isn't it ironic?

I have an idea that something other than irony is at work. However, I am not particularly interested in defending Ms. Miller because of her WMD work; however, I whether the folks who might normally rally to a Times reporter are throwing her under the bus because of the WMD thing.

Two straws in wind - the Times profiles Ms. Miller and Mr. Cooper, and slides right past the "Judy's Turn to Cry" issue (that is an as-yet-unwritten post in which I hammer, again, K Seelye."

The second straw is the absurd Editor and Publisher argument that I wack in the <post">http://justoneminute.typepad.com/main/2005/02/judith_miller_g.html">post that followed this one.

Forbes-your opinion is untenable if you actually read the Court's opinion. Skip all the legal mumbo-jumbo about privilege, It's still clear that the Appeals Court thinks this is a big deal.

I give that an unsatisfying "yes". They think the leak is a big deal for national security reasons, but nothing they wrote seemed to address the question of whether other elements of a crime (knowledge, intent) were in place.

As to the misdirection to the daily rags, we agree that the judges got the gist of what Novak actually reported right (and that belongs in an UPDATE, thanks).

So why can't the Times? And man, if I can't rail against the Times, I'm shutting down.

Neo

So let me get this right Valerie Plame is an operative on weapons of mass destruction for the CIA.

Next thing you'll be telling me is that she wrote some report about Iraq having "nukes." LOL

... Yikes .. Zowie ....

Joe Wilson did this whole thing to shield his wife from criticism for there being no WMD. Wow !!

Forbes

C-dude: Well, TM linked to Cliff May's column in the post above this (this is old news, btw). I suppose you can dismiss such evidence of common public knowledge, should you choose to do so. Needless, it appears Wilson-Plame were no stealth couple in DC.

As to whether the Appeals Court thinks it a big deal--well, they should, shouldn't they--I think TM responded for me above. And as TM wrote, nothing (yet) appears to address whether a crime was committed.

And for good reason, the question before the court has to do with compelling eyewitness testimony (and whatever privilige, or not, is granted reporters) that will shed light on whether a crime was committed, or not.

And you'll have to excuse me, but you appear to be hyperventilating over Fitzgerald's threats to imprison witnesses for failure to produce testimony--he doesn't have too many options in the conduct of his investigation. Elucidating the details of the legal/judicial path the investigation follows (in itself) reveals nothing as to the possible outcome.

Perhaps you've unearthed some "significance" worth sharing?

GT

Tom, there are pretty few on the left who rally round NYT reporters. To most on the left the idea that the NYT is a liberal bastion would be laugahbale if the issue wasn't so serious. Just check the DKos diaries where contempt for the NYT is probably higher than in most rightwing blogs.

Forbes

GT: It's all relative isn't it. Eric Alterman, for one, thinks the media has a right-wing bias. And all I can say is he is certainly entitled to his opinion--so are those in the DKos diaries.

Yet, I don't think anyone on the right ever expects the NYTimes to carry water for them--just to keep their editorials on the editorial page--but I would characterize the DKers as wanting the Times to carry water for them.

Opinions differ--your results may vary. All the best.

creepy dude

Actually Rich Lowry at National Review has just posted one of the most factually deficient pieces yet.

Like the Times and Post he writes: "Conservative columnist Robert Novak was told by administration sources that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, worked at the CIA."

But then he really goes off the deep end into outright hysteria. Man, people are really getting nervous about this thing.

creepy dude

In fact, Lowry's piece really has me in stitches. He writes:

"The media and Democrats were wracked by spasms of outrage...The administration must, must appoint a special prosecutor to investigate! Now!...Well, the press and President Bush critics got what they wanted — good and hard."

(I think he's confused GannonGate with PlameGate, but anyway, FWIW, it was the CIA that asked DOJ to investigate, and Fitzgerald was appointed only after Ashcroft recused himself after reviewing the investigation)

Lowry snarks on...

"The special prosecutor in the case, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, has done what special prosecutors usually do, namely trample all over any sense of proportion."

That's Rich. Literally. I wonder what other special prosecutors Rich is referrring to?

The conservative crackup commences.

Cecil Turner

"(I think he's confused GannonGate with PlameGate, but anyway, FWIW, it was the CIA that asked DOJ to investigate, and Fitzgerald was appointed only after Ashcroft recused himself after reviewing the investigation)"

Nonsense. Check the timeline. Wilson called it a smear campaign within a week of Novak's column, first in an NBC exclusive with Andrea Mitchell. Various Dem activists were calling it a crime within hours, and Schumer sent a letter to the FBI demanding an investigation on July 24th. The CIA apparently referred the case in late July, but that process only became public in late September. Various Dems were calling for an independent counsel by then, two full months before Ashcroft recused himself.

Besides, that's not Lowry's main point, which is this:

A much simpler, more obvious argument is available to the defense — that the Intelligence Identities Protection Act that was supposedly violated in this case wasn't. The act establishes an extremely high standard for a criminal violation — the agent in question has to be undercover (Plame wasn't), and the leaker has to know she was undercover and be intentionally trying to undermine U.S. intelligence (very, very unlikely).
The same case has been made repeatedly by TM, and recently by many others (e.g., here, by Dale McFeatters of Scripps). In fact, the worst thing about Lowry's Article is that Victoria Toensing made the same case better last month (and appear to've inspired Lowry).

creepy dude

CT-Dem and media screaming did not get a special counsel appointed. That's laughable. Dems and media could have screamed all night long-but if the CIA hadn't referred it, we wouldn't be here today. Or can you point to some other examples where the Dems and media forced the administration to bow to their superior will? Didn't think so.

As for this Intelligence Identities Protection Act Angle, just answer me this: if all that's true, why is Fitzgerald so out of control? Why can't he be stopped? Why did Ashcroft appoint such a rogue?

creepy dude

And why would President Bush hire his own attorney and submit to over an hour of prosecutorial questioning?

Hell, he was brought in kicking and screaming, and had to be given Cheney, for the 9-11 commission, but he went meekly and without a peep before Patrick "No Case" Fitzgerald. Odd.

creepy dude

Oh right. Dems and media were screaming.

Cecil Turner

"Dems and media could have screamed all night long-but if the CIA hadn't referred it, we wouldn't be here today."

I think Lowry's point was that they did scream all night long. And the July 25 entry to the timeline, which appears to pre-date the CIA referral, seems pertinent:

Sen. Schumer gets results! From Newsday:

Susan Whitson, an FBI spokeswoman, said the agency would "look at the issue and make determinations about whether there is an investigation that is warranted."

"As for this Intelligence Identities Protection Act Angle, just answer me this: if all that's true, why is Fitzgerald so out of control? Why can't he be stopped? Why did Ashcroft appoint such a rogue? "

You might be getting a little too cute at this point. The people currently squealing loudest about the special prosecutor are precisely the same ones who were demanding one earlier . . . which rather bolsters Lowry's argument. And the problem for those who are hopeful of conviction for an Administration official is not Fitzgerald's zeal--by all indications he is determined to get to the bottom of it. The problem is that if the source is the INR memo--which seems likely--there's no way to prove it was an intentional outing of a covert agent . . . because it wasn't.

Forbes

C-dude: So...there shouldn't be an investigation?

Fitzpatrick is out of control? How would you proceed to determine identity of the leaker? By interviewing those that have no idea, or those that can identify the leaker? Should anyone, including reporters, have a constitutional right not to testify to a grand jury regarding direct evidence of an alleged crime?

Curious minds would like to know where you stand regarding the Plame Blame Name Game--other than everyone is wrong. (Help me out. I'm having some trouble following your critique.)

Or will you stipulate that no crime was committed? And we can all move on.

(Oh, dude, I just spied your email handle. Cute. This Jeff Gannon business has really made an impression on you. ;) OK, snark turned off.)

creepy dude

Forbes-the out of control riff was my patented sarcasm aginst Lowry who wrote, as I quoted, that Fitzgerald is trampling over all sense of proportion. He's a Republican appointed by Republicans ferchrissake!

CT-so the people who demanded Fitzgerald's appointment are now gnashing their teeth over it? I don't see that.
Schumer's not upset-no one at Daily Kos is upset. Whereas Lowry is now bemoaning Fitzgerald's handiwork-was Lowry screaming for "No Case" Fitzgerald's appointment too. Didn't think so.

Forbes-I'm all for the investigation baby. I think Cheney and/or Rove was the leaker. It was definitely somebody too close to Bush to just toss overboard and short circuit the whoe thing at the beginning.

Now Ashcroft was too honest to bury the whole investigation. The man was a lunatic, but he was an honest lunatic. His failure to nip it in the bud is why Ashcroft is no longer around and Bush appointed his yes-man Abu Gonzales. No more of that nonsense. On the downside for the White House, Gonzalez has been in front of the Plame grand jury himself, and Fitzgerald has too much integrity and is too advanced in the inquiry to fire him. The plan at the White House is now to just drag it out and if Fitzgerald does get anywhere, throw out the pardons.

Cecil Turner

"Schumer's not upset-no one at Daily Kos is upset. Whereas Lowry is now bemoaning Fitzgerald's handiwork-was Lowry screaming for "No Case" Fitzgerald's appointment too. Didn't think so."

CD, if you think Lowry's complaining about Fitzgerald, you really need to re-read the article. His schaadenfreude is transparent, mostly aimed at the Times (which provided an anonymous forum for some of Wilson's early leaks, and a soapbox for his original article, followed by several articles insisting the Plame affair was worse than Watergate . . . but thinks a subpoena to investigate it is a travesty). Sulzberger: "the pending imprisonment of Judy Miller is an attack on the ability of all journalists to report on the actions of governments, corporations and others. The Times will continue to fight for the ability of journalists to provide the people of this nation with the essential information they need to evaluate issues affecting our country and the world." Miller: "It's frankly frightening that just for doing my job and talking to government employees about public issues, I may be deprived of my freedom and family.” And now they're clamoring for a shield law, but no matter who they name as sponsors, Republicans aren't going to be the primary supporters.

Schumer is apparently on the fence--his last letter to the Justice Department suggests he thinks there ought to be a privilege, but may be withdrawn by the source:

Have journalists been interviewed as part of the investigation? Has any journalist who has been released from confidentiality (assuming any has), refused to answer questions regarding previously confidential communications?

creepy dude

CT-you really think Lowry's crack that Fitzgerald is trampling over any sense of proportion was ironic? Maybe so, but imputing irony to that statement would seem to undermine his conclusion that no crime was committed and it's a wild goose-stepping republican chase.

But I do respect your opinion. So let's agree to disagree once again.

I see Miller is still out to lunch though. Judy Judy Judy-the problem is not that you talked to certain govt. employees, but that you are NOT listening to other government employees, i.e. the ones in black robes ordering you to testify.

Cecil Turner

"CT-you really think Lowry's crack that Fitzgerald is trampling over any sense of proportion was ironic?"

I think that part just acknowledges that historically, special prosecutions are easier to start than stop, and tend to be thorough . . . sometimes to a fault. In context, it was more along the lines of "what did you expect?" or "be careful what you wish for." And his crocodile tears are apparent throughout.

"Maybe so, but imputing irony to that statement would seem to undermine his conclusion that no crime was committed and it's a wild goose-stepping republican chase."

Not at all. Those who believe no crime was committed want as thorough an investigation as possible at this point. Because, though we believe it's a collossal waste of time and resources, we want to be able to say "I told you so" at the end. And that requires a finding of "not guilty" rather than "not proven."

Forbes

Yeah, C-dude, we just disagree on our own speculations about the findings in the end. So far as I know, none of us has any special information, just our own hunches and biases regarding the interpretation of what's been publicly reported. I'm also in full agreement with CT regarding as thorough an investigation as possible at this point. And if any of your speculations regarding a crime are even 10% right, I'll still be able say "shame" on whomever.

And on reading the Lowry article you cited, I'd say that's a huge snark pointed directly at the NYTimes.

Neo

Please take a look at section 421 of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act and tell me which part applies to Robert Novak. Perhaps if you stretch section (c), you think ? Afterall, isn't journalism really a "pattern of activities intended to identify and expose" ?
After reading section 422 and section 426, I'm not sure anybody will be prosecuted, except perhaps those who don't want to talk to the grand jury.

TM

Those who believe no crime was committed want as thorough an investigation as possible at this point.

I like to summarize that as "I'm not afraid of the truth". Which is a good motto generally, and has the added quality of being true in the Plame case.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Wilson/Plame