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July 02, 2005

Comments

I found this analysis of the leak amusing.

But would the friends of the journalists first contacted have had any proof that it was Rove? If they had gone out and said that they'd heard it was Rove, they would have been buried. Stories about their wives, about their children, about every business dealing ever would start to circulate.

Sure, being terrified of Rove's willingness to destroy people isn't a really good excuse, but accusing a ruthless political operative of treason without evidence (ie the now turned-over notes) sounds suicidal.

And the rumors kept burning long and hot enough that it has indeed finally come out.

(It's a beautiful day; I must be channeling Pollyanna...)

Jackmormon: If one of the reporters who had actually been called by Rove told another, it would be first-hand knowledge. If the second reporter knew the first to be reliable, it would be as good as it gets for a reporter, absent actually listening in on the phone calls. Think of other contexts: someone who was at a meeting tells a reporter what was discussed, for instance. If that person is credible, of course you go with it.

On a completely different note, I went over to see how LGF was dealing with this, and read all of 50 comments before I began to worry that the insanity might be contagious. Highlights:

  • IMO her identity was leaked either by her husband or herself.

    Her husband's reactions within hours of the story just didn't feel right to me.

    A bit too non-chalant,almost choreographed.

  • Karl Rove for SCOTUS!
  • Karl did it? And two MSM reporters are ready to go to jail to protect Rove? If the fool really believes that, he needs a refund from his dealer ...
  • Just another brilliant Rove move to divert attention. (rubbing hands together) Now to chose the next Supreme Court Justice, bwahahaha!

Along with a lot of people calling O'Donnell insane, and going on about the stupid illogical moonbats at DU. (I think being called stupid and illogical by an LGF commenter would be like having Truman Capote call you vain.) Truly amazing.

If one of the friends came out saying that "Matthew told me that Rove did it," wouldn't Cooper or Miller have to confirm it for the statement to have any credibility? Denying it, during an investigation, would put them in a tricky legal position; confirming it would blast open privilege; neither confirming nor denying would hang the colleague out to dry in the media flap. Am I wrong about this?

I would think the standard thing to do when you're asked about sources would be to refuse to discuss them, whether or not whoever was asking had hit on the right person. -- And as there were, iirc, six people called, no one would know who had talked except the source and the reporter. By the same token, it could have been confirmed, if two people had talked. (And my sense is that a bunch of people had.)

Oh -- and my assumption was that Cooper or Miller would tell another reporter anonymously.

And let's not forget what Plame's "beat" was: Weapons of mass destruction.

Publius at Legal Fiction channels Shakespeare, in re Rove... it's really good.

Despair and die!

We hope.

The idea that Miller and Cooper would leak anonymously, though, doesn't really work: the journalists to whom the leak was leaked were known pretty quickly, and an anonymous rumour is, well, pretty much the currency of the blogs, which kept the heat on until the prosecution managed to force the proof out.

I feel dirty defending this, but I really don't know how journalists who had heard this confidential information from Cooper and Miller should have behaved without endangering their own reputations, Cooper and Miller's reputations, journalistic privilege, or all of the above. Surely some better solution could have been worked out, I agree, but amidst our indignation, it may be useful to see the bind Rove put the press corps into. (Divide and Conquer! Solidarity is dead! Whoops, does that imperil free speech privilege?)

Back in the day, Ken Starr was leaking a bunch of stuff he should have kept under his shirt - it now strikes me as (similarly?) odd that no one in the press ran with that story (as far as I recall).

Under his shirt? Didn't he have a hat? [Makes me think of documents "in socks." --- ha ha, docs in socks]

Well, just in case anyone's interested, here are some statutes that struck me as possibly relevant:

Protection of identities of certain United States undercover intelligence officers, agents, informants, and sources
Perjury
False declarations before grand jury or court
Obstruction of criminal investigations
Statements or entries generally

Apologies for the multiple trackbacks - problems with Haloscan.

Mark in Mexico

Actually, the angle about the press not reporting the long-held belief that Rove was the leaker shows that the intimidation of the press by Rove, et al. works. These press cowards weighed the benefits of printing the story and decided not to. And as pointed out above by others, they gladly would run with the hot story otherwise -- the only clear explanation is that they were fearful of taking on Rove.

What is funny is the right's reaction that the press is allegedly so tough on Bush. The "liberal media bias" logic has devovled so that it means "any time press doesn't unflinchingly reprint right-wing talking points."

But this beliigerence apparently works.

Who are these pro-White house lawyers and why are they confirming this deal? Why do I have the feeling that Rover will screw us over. A-gain. and over. again. I feel like we are bound fo a shiv- its too good to be true.

As important as the apparent mass media failure is, and I do think it is important, lets not lose sight of the ball here:

Frog marched. In handcuffs. I want video.

Aramco?

Just a link for some background, via James Wolcott. Dated, and maybe a little tin-foil, but a lot of fun.

They managed to beat the arms-for-hostages thing - being caught while selling arms to the enemy in Iran and using the money to finance their own private war in Central America.

This one is nothing.

I don't know just how all this is going to turn out but I thought the photo of Wilson and Plame together in Vanity Fair was a great shot. Reminded me of an old James Caan movie"Hiding in Plain Sight". Sort of a reverse psychology gambit to protect her secret identity. Was Karl Rove the photographer? Will Vanity Fair,it's staff,have to frog walk out of their office? Is frog walking while handcuffed permitted in Gitmo?

At worst (for the administration), Rove will go down, and be replaced by a hack of similar abilities. This will look pretty bad for the White House in the short term, mainly due to the vastly overinflated sense of importance that's been attatched to Rove by all parties, but in the end it won't matter that much. Rove is just another replaceable cog in the machine, and the guru they stick in his place might just even be competant this time.

No way does Rove go anywhere; this isn't going to be the bonanza for which everyone hopes. And frankly, I don't particularly think it should be - this is a squalid little tale about score settling, and is indistinguishable from probably thousands of others before and after it. I'd be happy to use it as a weapon if I thought it would slow down the Mindless Juggernaut(TM), but I won't feel ethically violated if it isn't addressed.

SCMT: I have no idea how it's actually going to turn out. However, it does matter to me that the person who outed Plame, whoever it is, pay some serious price. To me, you Just Do Not out an undercover agent for petty political purposes. You just don't. It would be petty political score-settling if someone in the Bush administration had gotten them blocked from a country club. Outing CIA agents is, and ought to be, completely different.

And SCMT, every little bit helps. Every little bit tears a few more people away from Bush.

Hilzoy:

IMO, on the long list of sins that have been attributed to Karl Rove (including his role in cynically getting us into Iraq, the SC whisper campaign against McCain, and the whisper campain alleging child diddling against (IIRC) an Alabama Dem), this ranks pretty low. If the last few years have taught us anything, it should have been that the value-add of the CIA is fairly small and may even be negative. It's not right, it ought to be punished, but it's not the worst thing he's done by a long shot. And I am all but certain that Dems have, in the past, done things I would consider equally egregious.

I might feel differently if someone could show me an actual material harm rather than a series of potential harms.

Not only was she a CIA op, she was working on the WMD issue.

That's vital to keep in mind, because it's become clear the Bush Admin wasn't really all that worried about WMD. The way the troops were deployed proves that; the failure to secure known weapons caches proves that.

And the way the Bush Admin rushed into the war proves that. They knew there weren't any WMDs, but they had sold the war on the basis of WMDs, and had to start the war before everyone else knew there weren't any WMDs.

Outing Plame - who was working on the WMDs issue - has to be seen in this context. Did the Bush Admin destroy her network (and probably get people killed) in order to head off public confirmation that there were no WMDs in Iraq? Or in order to head off discovery of who the "Niger yellowcake" forger was?

Maybe ruining Plame wasn't just about the politics of personal destruction. Maybe there was more to it: destroying an intel op that would have disproved Bush's claims and undermined his case for war.

SCMT: Do you consider the war in Iraq 'actual material harm'?

Not only was Plame a CIA op, she was working on the WMD issue.

That's vital to keep in mind, because it's become clear the Bush Admin wasn't really all that worried about WMD. The way the troops were deployed proves that; the failure to secure known weapons caches proves that.

And the way the Bush Admin rushed into the war proves that. They knew there weren't any WMDs, but they had sold the war on the basis of WMDs, and had to start the war before everyone else knew there weren't any WMDs.

Outing Plame - who was working on the WMDs issue - has to be seen in this context. Did the Bush Admin destroy her network (and probably get people killed) in order to head off public confirmation that there were no WMDs in Iraq? Or in order to head off discovery of who the "Niger yellowcake" forger was?

Maybe ruining Plame wasn't just about the politics of personal destruction. Maybe there was more to it: destroying an intel op that would have disproved Bush's claims and undermined his case for war.

That accursed typepad!

I might feel differently if someone could show me an actual material harm rather than a series of potential harms.

Do you favor letting drunk drivers off as long as they didn't actually cause an accident? Should it be legal to fire a gun randomly in a crowd, as long as you don't hit anybody?

We punish behavior that has a high probability of causing harm precisely to deter it, thereby reducing actual future harm.

SCMT: Contemptible, unethical, immoral & disgusting as other Rove political activities have been, the difference this time is that outing an undercover CIA operative (if it is proven that Rove was indeed the source of the leak) is clearly, unambiguously criminal. To me this merits a whole different level of scrutiny and accountability.

In quick succession:

1. Do you consider the war in Iraq 'actual material harm'? Not only was Plame a CIA op, she was working on the WMD issue.

It would be harm, but that will be impossible to prove. Moreover, I think the analysis (using the media as a proxy for the public) of the WMD issue was so laughable that I assume that another quanta of evidence in one direction or another would not have made any difference at all in support for the war.

2. Do you favor letting drunk drivers off as long as they didn't actually cause an accident?

Not in a perfect world, but prosecutors (and police) use their discretion to do this all of the time. Furthermore, given Rove's position, I'm deeply unconvinced that conviction would deter similar acts any more than Watergate convictions prevented political campaigns from playing dirty tricks.

3. the difference this time is that outing an undercover CIA operative (if it is proven that Rove was indeed the source of the leak) is clearly, unambiguously criminal.

Which makes it an infinitely more useful lever, and on which basis I absolutely support any actions we can manage against Rove. So more scrutiny, etc - absolutely. But only b/c this lever allows us to do it, not b/c I find this more egregious or worthy of punishment than a host of other acts.

... prosecutors (and police) use their discretion to [let drunk drivers off] all of the time.

IANAP (either kind) so I can't speak to this, but I suspect "all of the time" is a stretch. And wouldn't the seriousness of the offense play a role?

Furthermore, given Rove's position, I'm deeply unconvinced that conviction would deter similar acts any more than Watergate convictions prevented political campaigns from playing dirty tricks.

How could we possibly know the Watergate convictions did not prevent some similar acts?

Isn't this basically treason? Since we are at war, isn't the punishment for treason execution?

I'm with SCMT, though not wedded to the position. Outing a CIA agent in this case was despicable. What makes me a bit uneasy is that I can imagine cases where I'd probably cheer the outing of a CIA agent--one involved in overthrowing a government or something else nefarious. Would the law make a distinction between Rove's outing of Plame (assuming he really did this) and some whistle-blower exposing CIA misdeeds?

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