Monday, July 18, 2005

There's there there

Hello, RNC-talking points regurgitators! It doesn't matter what Wilson said in his report--if there was a smear campaign in the WH and his wife's intelligence role was revealed as part of that campaign, the outing is still at best ethically reprehensible and quite likely a crime.

So attacking Wilson or Wilson's report as false or discredited is simply a red herring in Rovegate (sure it's appropriate to question his report, but not as a defense of Rove's behavior. Had Wilson said "Saddam is a harmless puppy dog" in his report the vengeful outing of his wife would still be criminal). Attacking Wilson's character is also not fair here--at the time of his initial editorial such questions were appropriate, but not now when the WMD question has been settled as a canard from the get-go. (Personally I don't doubt Wilson has a flair for theater; his histrionics* at the US embassy in Baghdad before Gulf War I were perhaps evidence of that. But as Poppy Bush noted at the time, Wilson is definitely a patriot, and until recently a non-partisan sort).

It also doesn't matter if Rove learned of Plame's job from a journalist instead of from Scooter Libby or Rice or Tenet--that's no defense either.

Today on Inside Politics one of those Republican Strategists (Terry Holt, I believe) brought up Clinton to defend Rove, ie, the "You guys do it too" defense.

Clinton was impeached for something far less important, jerkass.

If Wilson was wrong, and the Iraqis were trying to buy yellowcake from Niger, why did Rice, Powell, Tenet, and Bush (but not Dick Cheney) all disavow the claim?

This murky story has brought me out of my newshound hibernation. I love it. Even if there are no further indictments, I'm happy that Judy Miller--the queen of neo-con footsie-playing and Chalabi/WMD whore--is in jail. Does her arrest bode poorly for future whistleblowers? Yes. Does it potentially harm journalists? Yes. But Miller is neither--she's part of the problem, and likely participated in the Wilson smear campaign on top of her other unethical behavior (for the which the Times apologized in a blanket mea culpa over pre-war journalism) as a propagandist for Bush Co.

This scandal has been vastly entertaining, to say the least. First the leak was condemned by the Right, but as soon as Rove became a central figure the Right contorted itself to find an appropriate spin: Rove didn't NAME her, Plame wasn't an "agent," but an "analyst," there's no crime, Wilson is a liar/a liberal/a partisan/arrogant. My personal favorite spin? Mehlman's line that this is all an attempt by Lefties to smear Rove--whose well-know modus operandi is to smear first and mercilessly! Ah, the tortured ill-logic. Today on Connected Coast-to-Coast with Reagan and Crowley some particularly stupid hack said there could be no crime because Plame isn't in physical danger. What about those who worked with her overseas, dickweed? What if she travels?

I also like the way TV talking heads are telling their audiences how stupid they are: "This story is a bit nuanced for the public," or "There are too many twists and turns here for the average Joe..." or "This story is so complicated..."

*Wilson seems content to let the show play itself out. He does not appear the sort of person to dodge a fight or, for that matter, the national spotlight. He was the US chargé d'affaires in Baghdad when the Iraqi government ordered diplomats to register their nationals, and in effect hand them over as human shields. Wilson turned up to a press briefing with a noose around his neck, telling the Iraqis that not only could they hang him but: "I'll bring the fucking rope." The Guardian UK, Oct 22, 2003

The Senate Report covering pre-war intelligence, and Wilson's original work in Niger for the CIA, is worth looking at. Not since the CIA report on CIA relationships to drug-smugglers during the '80s, in which the press release issued by the Agency claimed no evidence was found of such relationships but the report itself said the opposite, have I perused a gov document so interesting. (Note my use of "perused." I can't imagine reading this 500-page clunker cover-to-cover, especially since most of its conclusions are redacted, and since the entire question of whether or not Valerie Plame actually did recommend Wilson is left un-decided in the report [though the partisans on either side draw their own predictable conclusions in their additional comments]).