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Sunday, Oct. 05, 2003 at 12:24 PM
Spin is All, and in the Plame Affair Bush still
has the upper hand since reporters allow him to
characterize this as "leaking classified information,"
like the specs for a bolt on an F-15 fighter.
links in article are in blogsite
Spin is All, and in the Plame Affair Bush stillhas the upper hand since reporters allow him to characterize this as "leaking classified information," like the specs for a bolt on an F-15 fighter. I haven't much use for the dirty tricks department of the CIA, but there are still honest agents in the field doing what the CIA is supposed to do: gather intelligence. These are the "eyes and ears" who actually keep us safer, not State Department and executive branch hacks who order coups and assassinations.
As a deep-cover intelligence officer, Valerie Plame has the same ratings as any officer in the
traditional military branches. She takes the same oath to die in the service of her country if necessary. Giving her away was no different than giving away the position of a platoon in the field. We will never know how many people are dead or whose days are numbered as a result of the Bush administration's act of political revenge. We do know that in the post 9/11 era, security depends not on tanks and planes, but on intelligence networks abroad. Exactly the kind of work Plame was engaged in before she was betrayed by her own superiors. This, by the way, is why arrogant unilateralism is such a bad idea in combatting terrorism. You can make a tin-pot dictator say uncle, but you can't make other governments put their best people in dangerous places for you, such as undercover within cells of stone-cold killers. They have to want to do it.
Barely worth mention is the Republican Party's bitch, the press, putting out the trash talk that Amabassador Wilson's motives are impure because he has contributed money to the Kerry Campaign. The Boston Globe reports momemtuously "the case could be tainted by politics."
"Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, who said a Bush aide disclosed that his wife is a CIA operative in retaliation for his criticism of the Iraq war, has worked since May as an unpaid adviser to Senator John F. Kerry."
What's that got to do with the price of eggs in China?
More of the same: if you can't answer the facts, smear the person saying them. Classic Karl Rove, whose previous low point was running ads during the Republican primary saying John McCain did not support breast cancer research. This was based on McCain's vote against some bills that did not go through the normal appropriations review process. McCain is in fact a leader in fighting for breast cancer funds, and his sister is a breast cancer survivor. The ads, according to McCain himself, may have cost him the nomination.
The full text of the original July 14
Robert Novak column that started the whole thing is Mission to Niger. What Novak was trying to do was undermine Ambassador Joe Wilson's credibilty, by suggesting that this was a low-level mission that he probably sidled into because of the undue influence of his wife, Valerie Plame, a deep-cover intelligence officer. In the process, he blows her cover. Later Bush partisan Novak wrote a column saying this is much ado about nothing, since Plame is only an intelligence "analyst" whom everybody knows about, not an operative. But here are the words of Larry Johnson, a former counter-terrorism official at the CIA and the State Dept., on the McNiel-Lehrer Newshour, along with the audio
"This not an alleged abuse. This is a confirmed abuse. I worked with this woman. She started training with me. She has been under cover for three decades. She is not as Bob Novak suggested a "CIA analyst." Given that, i was a CIA analyst for 4 years. I was under cover. I could not divulge to my family outside of my wife that I worked for the CIA unti I left the Intelligence Agency on Sept. 30, 1989. At that point I could admit it. The fact that she was under cover for three decades and that has been divulged is outrageous. She was put undercover for certain reasons. One, she works in an area where people she works with overseas could be compromised...
For these journalists to argue that this is no big deal... and if I hear another Republican operative suggesting that, well, this was just an analyst. Fine. Let them go undercover. Let's put them go overseas. Let's out them and see how they like it...
I say this as a registered Republican. I am on record giving contributions to the George Bush campaign. This is not about partisan politics. This is about a betrayal, a political smear, of an individual who had no relevance to the story. Publishing her name in that story added nothing to it because the entire intent was, correctly as Amb. Wilson noted, to intimidate, to suggest that there was some impropriety that somehow his wife was in a decision-making position to influence his ability to go over and savage a stupid policy, an erroneous policy, and frankly what was a false policy of suggesting that there was nuclear material in Iraq that required this war. This was about a political attack. To pretend it was something else, to get into this parsing of words."
Novak claims that no one in the administration contacted him with a leak (aimed at embarrassing Wilson.) But journalist Josh Marshall points out that Novak said on Crossfire:
"Nobody in the Bush administration called me to leak this. In July I was interviewing a senior administration official on Ambassador Wilson's report when he told me the trip was inspired by his wife, a CIA employee working on weapons of mass destruction."
and then in a July 22nd Newsday article:
"Novak, in an interview, said his sources had come to him with the information. "I didn't dig it out, it was given to me," he said. "They thought it was significant, they gave me the name and I used it.""
As dailykos.com points out:
"So Novak is clearly a liar. Either he lied in the Newsday article, or he lied yesterday when he defended the administration. Looking at motives, it's clear that yesterday is the most likely lie as he seeks to provide cover to his Republican buddies."
What Bush would so self-righteously bludgeon us with, lack of patriotism, is okay if is is coming from his own staff. Make no mistake, if the shoe were on the other foot, Bush would pounce on this like a rabid dog in order to silence freedom of the press. Treason is treason, and the national security has been damaged, as Ambassador Wilson clearly means when he says "It's of great interest to me to see Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs. And I choose my words on this very carefully."
The Denver Post says in an October 2 editorial:
"It may sound strange for a newspaper to inveigh against government officials' leaking information, but as useful as "unidentified sources" can be, we draw the line at outing agents of the Central Intelligence Agency for pure political spite."
Bush did everything he could to block the one thing that might actually make us safer: the appointment of an independent commission to investigate 9/11, now 2 years after the fact. His war policy has resulted in the multiplication of nuclear threats, not fewer. Now revelations are surfacing from credible sources, such as Jeffrey Connaughton, special assistant to the counsel to the president 1994-95, that the adminstration allowed private jets to whisk 140 Saudi nationals out of the country in the days after 9/11, many of them relatives of bin Laden, all without being questioned. Remember, this is when all flights were grounded and nothing, but nothing was taking off except military aircraft. You could have been a congressman and you weren't going anywhere. Representative Peter King of Long Island said the Plame controversy "shouldn't have legs." But with all these other questions combined, it is no longer a matter of one scandal or another having legs. This administration no longer passes the smell test.
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