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October 18, 2005

Comments

After hearing so much apologia from so many conservatives for so long about the Plame matter, we are finally down to the primal essense of the Bush Republican party -- the slime machine. I imagine the effort will make DeLay's current push-back against the Texas prosecutor look amateurish.

Anybody who gets on board is morally bankrupt. While the ultimate criminal outcome will be decided by the legal process, the political judgment in this matter has become clear as the facts sharpen. And its still about what it was from the beginning. A sleazy slimy push back to cover-up the cooked books about WMD, which included the willingness to out Plame's identity as a talking point tool. And they appeared indifferent about the national security aspect of it -- all policy is subverted to the political.

What seems most damning is that it appears the identity of Plame became generally known amongst the White House players because of the State Dept report brought onto Air Force One by Powell during the africa trip, which clearly showed Plame's status as undercover. Again, they did not give a damn about that.

What is also clear is that the after-the-fact lying began big time right from the beginning, including the talking point initially that no senior officials in the White House were resposible, and all were cooperating.

The usual homily here is that the cover-up is worse than the deed. Here its not, but it may be that the cover-up will be a lot easier to nail than the deed.

"...were willing to out an undercover CIA agent -- and one working on WMD, no less -- "

According to most sources I have read in the last hour, Valerie Plame was not in WINPAC but in Operations. A field agent working NOC with smugglers in the Stans comes back and works operations. She ran runners. Does anyone remember that movie with Brad Pitt and Redford? She was Redford.

She was a heavyweight. I am surprised anyone is left alive in the White House.

"The hoplite [republican] phalanx was a formation in which the hoplites would line up in files, no less than four deep, in very close order. In this formation, the hoplites would lock their shields together, while the first few ranks of soldiers [Rove, Cheney, Bush] would project their spears out over the first rank of shields [Dobson, Limbaugh, Coulter], thus allowing for the first three or so ranks of spearmen to engage their spears against the enemy [the facts]. Therefore, one might say that the phalanx was essentially a formation in which the hoplites created a mass spear and shield wall [redstate, lgf, powerline]. The effectiveness of the phalanx depended upon how well the hoplites could maintain this formation while in combat, especially when engaged against another phalanx [CIA, Reid, Helen Thomas].

When in combat, the whole formation would consistently press forward trying to break the enemy formation [catapult the propaganda], thus when two phalanx formations engaged, the struggle essentially became a pushing match, in which, as a rule, the deeper phalanx would almost always win, with very few recorded exceptions [2000 election].

While this formation was formidable, and nearly indestructible from the front, the formation was very slow when maneuvering, and could not, of itself, protect its flanks, nor its rear, because it was a terribly slow moving formation and when once engaged, could not disengage, or remaneuver itself. Therefore, when the Phalanx was flanked (attacked from either the left or right side) [Meirs, Plame, Katrina] it was rendered nearly defenseless."

from Wikipedia, minor comments my own, hoping the last paragraph is prophetic.

jc

It's no surprise to me that Cheney's being implicated. If Rove and Libby are indicted, can anyone lend credence to the fact that they acted on their own, without (at least) informing Cheney and/or Bush what was going on? As tightly controlled as this administration has kept the flow of information in the past, to think Cheney or Bush has no involvement stretches credulity to the breaking point.

I've written in the past that if Rove is indicted, it's going to be a free for all. Since it appears that none of the major players have much in the way of integrity, I tend to expect a free for all of plea bargains and backstabbing. It'd make me feel like kicking back and reaching for the popcorn if it wasn't something so serious...

my prediction: a couple of low-level nobodys get a slap on the wrist for not making the "Secret, No Foreign" stamp dark enough on the memo aboard AFI. all the higher-ups get a stern lecture from Fitzgerald about playing fast and loose with the law, as he debriefs the Senate. but nothing comes of it. if there's any indictment, it's on a tangential matter that's related to the investigation and not to the investigated actions (ex. something like purjury or obstruction), and this will prove, to the wingnuts, that none of the other stuff happened. the wingnuts will rejoice.

i predict the same thing in DeLay's case.

Cleek, I fear you're right - I cannot believe that Cheney and Rove will permit themselves to be indicted - and yet I do still wonder: this is a crime that one would think most people would find frankly insupportable. Still, I thought that about the administration's reaction to Katrina, and it appears that that's being nicely smoothed over, too.

Is it really possible to spin it so that outing a CIA undercover agent for petty political vengeance is really just one of those things that's just politics, or that Rove didn't really do it, or Cheney couldn't possibly have known about it if Rove did, and so on? (I admit I know less about Libby. Cheney's importance to the Bush administration is evident; Rove's importance likewise: is there a reason Libby couldn't be set up to be the fall guy?) If it's possible, no doubt it will be done. And since there are people willing to forgive Oliver North his crimes, and to argue that in a good cause (overthrowing a democratically-elected government) it doesn't matter that Reagan's administration funded terrorists with illegal weapon sales, I am sure than twenty years down the line there will be loyalists willing to argue that in a good cause (whatever the "good cause" has become by then in their minds) it's only right to out an undercover CIA agent.

Is it really possible to spin it so that outing a CIA undercover agent for petty political vengeance is really just one of those things that's just politics

That's the current right-wing apologia; see Kristol (already flayed by Hilzoy earlier), and the recent WaPo Cohen column which said exactly this wanker point.

THe Bush defenders will say anything.

cleek -
I think you are right, with this addendum - despite Fitzgerald's unambiguously critical briefing to the Senate, the right wing press and pundits howl at an immense volume about the total exoneration of the White House, and how the reckless, partisan scandalmongering of the left has further corrupted the political process. For shame, you wild-eyed lefties!! For SHAAAAAAAME!!!!!

I am sure than twenty years down the line there will be loyalists willing to argue that in a good cause (whatever the "good cause" has become by then in their minds) it's only right to out an undercover CIA agent.

Maybe. From my reading at tacitus and elsewhere, that crowd, good patriots all, so far seem unwilling to accept outing undercover agents in support of the good cause, instead taking the line that Plame "really wasn't a CIA operative" so no law could have been broken (not a real law, anyway) while reminding us that her husband is a tool and the British really did say what the President said they said.

Still, I thought that about the administration's reaction to Katrina, and it appears that that's being nicely smoothed over, too.

There's a reason that Bush's approval with blacks is at 2%. Still, you have a point that Republicans seem able to swallow anything from Bush without choking.

notyou: instead taking the line that Plame "really wasn't a CIA operative" so no law could have been broken

But will they be able to keep up that pretense if people are actually indicted for the crime of outing a CIA operative, namely Valerie Plame? Well, I guess we'll find out.

But will they be able to keep up that pretense
Yes, see above re: smearing of Fitzgerald.

For the latest in speculation, see the NYDaily News:

"Cheney's name has come up amid indications Fitzgerald may be edging closer to a blockbuster conspiracy charge - with help from a secret snitch.

"They have got a senior cooperating witness - someone who is giving them all of that," a source who has been questioned in the leak probe told the Daily News yesterday."

And Jes: I continue to be amazed at the currency that 'she wasn't really an undercover agent' gets. It's one thing for bloggers to try to figure out whether the font used in a document was in use when the document was supposedly written. That's just the sort of thing we can do. It's quite another, it seems to me, for us to try to figure out whether an operative with the CIA was or was not undercover, based on nothing more than whether it makes sense to us to think so. (I'm excluding here bloggers with actual experience in intelligence work.) That is not something that it makes sense to think that random people will get right. And you need a lot of confidence that you are right to draw the conclusion: so it's OK to out someone from the premiss: I can't see that she was undercover.

I understand why the big business wing of the Republicans is willing to buy any story -- they know it's not true, but they don't care. Morality isn't a consideration, even if some of the people who are part of it are quite moral. What I don't understand is why the religious folks keep letting themselves be conned.

For 25 years, these people have been used by the Republican Party and received nothing but promises in return. In the meantime, they have been asked to swallow crimes, lies, and a series of Elmer Gantrys who will tell them anything. Anyone paying attention might think that the Republicans don't ever want to get rid of Roe as it seems to make their religious wing incapable of noticing that the people who are elected do not behave as Christians in any manner.

What I don't understand is why the religious folks keep letting themselves be conned

i suppose it would be unseemly to say that your question answers itself.

I think I heard David Limbaugh say something to the effect that it was "just politics". Maybe so, but entirely irrelevant to the question of whether a) laws were broken, or b) whether national security was compromised. Maybe I heard him out of context, but if not, statements of that sort are sheer idiocy.

OTOH if what was done was just the effective ending of Ms. Plame's career without any damage to national security (assuming that such an occurrence is even possible) then we ought to know that, too.

At one time I was swayed by the "not really undercover" arguments, but after a while I realized there's precious little in the way of fact to back them. Joe Wilson I'm not too fond of, but Joe Wilson really has nothing to do with whether or not someone in the administration actually compromised an undercover agent. I'm a big fan of protecting intelligence and intelligence assets, and even were Joe Wilson the reincarnation of Adolph Hitler, the burning (fig.) of his wife cannot be justified.

To take a Thullen-esque slant on things, the whole Plame affair has been a bit like watching a seemingly key episode of Lost, with a little bit of Peanuts thrown in: just when you think the information that Explains Everything is in your hands, Lucy pulls the football out of the way and you're flat on your back once more. Maybe the end of the third season will reveal all.

I agree that Plame was doing necessary work and outing her was wrong. I'd want to know more (which we probably never will, not for decades anyway) before I'd buy too fully into the scenario outlined by reddhedd. CIA types and government secrecy types are always saying that the release of this or that piece of information will do incalculable damage to national security and put lives at risk and we'd know this if only we knew what they knew and so on. It's a great way to win an argument--in fact, in slightly different circumstances it's a great way to justify a war. If I'm skeptical in other cases I'm not going to rush to assume the worst in this case.

Of course if the situation really is the way reddhedd imagines, then what Rove/Libby or somebody did was extremely serious, treasonous and so forth. And even if it wasn't, releasing her name for petty vindicative reasons is contemptible. But whether it was or wasn't of catastrophic importance is something we might have to rely on the CIA to tell us and I'm not in the habit of assuming they're always truthful.

So if it can be proven that Libby and/or Rove broke the law, great. Prosecute them. How serious were the consequences? Darned if I know.

Do I hear alger hissing? And does Judith Miller care one whit that the chambers of her deception will eventually reveal whom her real employer was and is?

See, here's my fear. Say, the weight of the scandals brings down the Republican Party in the 2006 and 2008 elections, resulting in Democratic control of maybe the Presidency and one house of Congress.

Given the seething need for a "Final Showdown" (by the way, I remain in bring-it-on mode) with liberalism exhibited by the gollums on the right-wing (I ain't talking Buchanan, who will be reluctant to sacrifice his cushy media gig), I expect a good 43% or so percent of the country will be effectively ungovernable for a Democratic President.

I expect a surprising percentage of the members of the Supreme Court, the next head of the Federal Reserve, and a cadre within the Federal bureaucracy (which is being infiltrated by ideological cronies through the political appointment process down to GS management levels never conceived of in current law. but perhaps conceived of in, shall we say, Newark, New Jersey, Maoist China, and Napoleon's France) ..... to be loyal, personally, politically, and ideologically to one man on a ranch in Texas, and through him to God.

I'm with McManus. I just don't know if the Posse Comitatus Act will be rescinded so that I can defend my government a few years from now from within, or whether it will be rescinded soon to prevent me from defending it from without.

Sorry, I didn't realize that someone else was in Thullen-esque mode, or I would have deferred. ;)

Actually, this could be a salutory trend. Slart could adopt a Thullen-esque mode from time-to-time, thus doubling his output on Obsidian Wings and making us all happy, and thus enabling me to cut the crap (my synonym for Thullen-esque) and find something productive to do in life, to quote Mrs. Thullen-esque.

Actually, this could be a salutory trend

No, no, if you mean that you STOP adopting a Thullen-esque mode. The more Thullen-esque comments the better.

On the other hand, it would be kind of interesting if we had a day (or an open thread) in which everyone has to post in the style of some other regular commenter?

Donald: it may be the way redhedd says; it may not. We do know that she had networks of people, that she had a front organization that was blown, and so forth. However: to me, the crucial question is not: was it or was it not the sort of situation reddhedd describes? but: given that outing an undercover CIA operative always carries the risk of being that sort of situation, did the people who outed Valerie Plame know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it wasn't? Had they figured out exactly who she had worked with over the years, who was going to be compromised and what the results of that might be, and conclude: OK, they are all dead or safely in Poughkeepsie or whatever, so there will be no problem here? Or did they just not bother to think about it?

If the latter, then I think about what they did the way I think about drunk driving: the fact that you don't actually end up killing someone on a given occasion doesn't make you right, just lucky.

No, no, if you mean that you STOP adopting a Thullen-esque mode.

This presumes a sort of conservation of Thullenesque-osity that has yet to be shown. A sort of zero-sum-of-being-Thullen kind of thing, if you will. If this turns out to be the case, I'll bail on the silliness, because the original does it so much...um...better, I guess.

George Friedman on NOCs.

This presumes a sort of conservation of Thullenesque-osity that has yet to be shown.

You could prove it not so by a John Thullen open thread in which EVERYONE has to comment in Thullenesque-style.

Not only would it be scientific, it would be fun. :-)

Hilzoy: If the latter, then I think about what they did the way I think about drunk driving: the fact that you don't actually end up killing someone on a given occasion doesn't make you right, just lucky.

Agreed to that.

I am not - profoundly I am not - in agreement with at least a proportion of the kind of things the CIA and its undercover operatives get up to. I am not a supporter of the CIA. Rather the reverse.

But I don't have to think that Valerie Plame must have been one of the good guys to think that, when someone in the Bush administration outed her to punish her husband, they may or may not have committed an indictable offense - we'll find out, I suppose - but without doubt they did something scummy.

Whether or not Valerie Plame was in any abstract sense of the word a "good guy", she was working for the US, giving her country loyalty and service, and they betrayed that for short-term partisan vengeance. That's a vile thing to do, and I don't have to like what the CIA does to see it.

From rilkefan's link:

... one of the criticisms conservatives have of liberals is that they do not understand that we live in a dangerous world and, therefore, that they underestimate the effort needed to ensure national security. Liberals have questioned the utility and morality of espionage. Conservatives have been champions of national security and of the United States' overt and covert capabilities. Conservatives have condemned the atrophy of American intelligence capabilities.

A similar notion struck me while reading Edward's thread. I used to think the conservative point of view reflected acknowledgment of the inherent human capacity for evil, whether clear-eyed and realistic or cynical and depressed.

Yet now we have "conservatives" preaching the gospel of spreading freedom by starting a war to reform the Middle East, and pooh-poohing the effect of blowing an agent's cover (and a front company to boot).

Have we entered the Bizarro universe?

[P.S., I wish I could write like John Thullen.]

If this turns out to be the case, I'll bail on the silliness, because the original does it so much...um...better, I guess.

Allow me to offer le mot juste there:

Thullenesquely.

Thullenesqueitude?

You could prove it not so by a John Thullen open thread in which EVERYONE has to comment in Thullenesque-style.

Ack. As the parent of teens, I have to deal with an overabundance of sullenness at home; I don't think I can handle an overabundance of Thullen-ness here.

I don't think I can handle an overabundance of Thullen-ness here.

what's a bundance ?

i suppose it would be unseemly to say that your question answers itself.

Why, were you thinking about saying something to that effect?

I think that one should feel that one is posting in a Thullenite manner, or in a Thullenoid manner if one is wearing one's propellor beanie or any headgear with a substantial shiny, metallic component.

fwiw, Raw Story:

"A senior aide to Vice President Dick Cheney is cooperating with special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald in the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson, sources close to the investigation say.

Individuals familiar with Fitzgerald’s case tell RAW STORY that John Hannah, a senior national security aide on loan to Vice President Dick Cheney from the offices of then-Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, John Bolton, was named as a target of Fitzgerald’s probe. They say he was told in recent weeks that he could face imminent indictment for his role in leaking Plame-Wilson’s name to reporters unless he cooperated with the investigation.

Others close to the probe say that if Hannah is cooperating with the special prosecutor then he was likely going to be charged as a co-conspirator and may have cut a deal.

Hannah did not return two calls and several emails to his White House address seeking comment."

My thullenarity is gratified, but my allaboutmeitis is inflamed and itching.

ral: Well, I think Truman Capote's comment regarding Jack Kerouac applies here. He's not a writer; he's a typist.

Hilzoy:

For God's sake, quit interrupting. ;)

OK then, I'll let you all go back to your Thullenious musings. (I like that word.)

Thullenicization. Proto-Thullenian. Anarcho-Thullenist. Crypto-Thullenic. The possibilities are endless.

"I think that one should feel that one is posting in a Thullenite manner, or in a Thullenoid manner if one is wearing one's propellor beanie or any headgear with a substantial shiny, metallic component."

I'm thinking this suggests that the propellor beanie means something different (signifies, if you like) to you than to me.

I grew up with the story of Ray Nelson, well-known sf fan who has interacted with the rest of active sf fandom since 1947 in innumerable fanzines, and later at conventions, and still nowadays online at times, inventing the propellor beanie as the symbol of sf fans, which it was then used as in gazillions of cartoons, and in other ways (making real props and wearing them, using them in plays and whatnot at cons, and in art, and so forth, ever since the decade of the Fifties when it became the adopted symbol of sf fandom, in sf fandom.

Ray himself had become infamous by the Seventies for how many times and places he'd tell the story. Hearing him explain it was inescapable, albeit true, and perfectly visible to everyone's eyes, anyway (and it's understandable, of course, that he wanted to preserve credit).

Naturally, since only a few thousand people were around for this, one may not want to take my word, and one might question Ray's account (although I don't), but FWIW, a few other versions have made it online.

But since this doesn't seem to have anything to do with Being Thullen, what does the propellor beanie mean to you, Bruce? (Or was that a way of saying that John's propellor beanie has a deliberately high tin-foil content?)

Possible Cheney Resignation ???

Is it irresponsible to speculate ? It is irresponsible not to.

Cleek:

What it is is hard to tell. But I loved the anonymous White House aide who, when hearing that Condeleeza Rice might be the new V.P., asks "Is she pro-choice?".

Man! These guys would ask for sprinkles on their ice cream cones just before the firing squad pulled the triggers.

By the way, I'm gratified to see Gary Farber
flushed from his lair. That's good.

And, now, I must retire for the day because my tin foil got tangled in my propeller.

I for one, seeking to live a quiet life of sober, celibate reflection upon the Thullen, shall retreat to one of the many monasteries devoted to that purpose, and take the solemn vows of an (ahem) Thullenious monk.

Not "White House aide" but "Key Republican Congressional aide"

Different guy, same sprinkles.

So is Hannah at the office today? Hard to imagine.

"Different guy, same sprinkles."

Don't let all the attention go to your head, John.

"I, for one, seeking to live a quiet life of sober, celibate reflection upon the Thullen, shall retreat to one of the many monasteries devoted to that purpose, and take the solemn vows of an (ahem) Thullenious monk.

st, permit me to be the first to say:

"Arrrrggghhh!"

That was a lot of sturm and drang, Gary. My thought was simple.

I meant "Thullenite" in the style of "Mennonite" and other such denominational handles. Then I realized that it looked a bit like a mineral, which led me to kryptonite, which led me to think of something that would sound suitably old-school and high-tech. And that's all.

To Hilzoy and Jes--good points.

Now to the real meat of this thread (sort of a mixed metaphor there). What's a Thullenesque style? I'm not around here regularly enough to pick up on everyone's style or on who gets on whose nerves and so forth--Thullen was bashing himself in another thread, taking the blame for chasing one or two posters away and so forth.

Someone want to give me a Thullen for dummies introduction to whatever it is you're talking about? And maybe a flowchart while you're at it identifying who ignores/dislikes whom. I'll settle for the first.

Two "so forths" in one sentence. Ugh. Don't anyone parody my style--the original is parody enough.

Donald,

I thought a Thullenesque style is being morose with a lisp.

Here is a small taste of vintage Thullen.

And I use the word "taste" advisedly (though perhaps not the word "vintage").

Donald:

Hint: your "Thullen was bashing himself in another thread, taking the blame for chasing one or two posters away and so forth", should read "Thullen was engaging in some cheerful mocking in another thread of self-pitying conservatives who find the bracing, but hardly and not irredeemably hostile waters of Obsidian Wings a little tough to take, by taking (with utmost insincerity) all blame for bad things upon himself, thus washing away the sins of the commentariat here in general."

Now, I'm gone cause I can sense Rilkefan is cooking up a pointed mocking poem of his own, and I just can't handle it ;)

John, I'm afraid it's one poem per customer.

Jes writes: "That's a vile thing to do, and I don't have to like what the CIA does to see it."

Further, it's possible to acknowledge the nasty things the CIA has done, and the vile things they've been doing under the Bush administration, yet to also accept that a intelligence agency is a desirable thing to have, and that many of the employees do honorable work for their country, at the cost of a degree of risk and sacrfice of some of their own freedoms.

I thought a Thullenesque style is being morose with a lisp.

Thurly that'th a lithp?

Thurly that'th a lithp?

Ah, Igor, I thought that was you. Uberwald is so chilly this time of year.

Anarch,

If I were trying to accurately transcribe the lisp, I would have posted "morothe" -- I had typed it, and changed it when I thought it might fly over some heads.

Um, holy crap.

Talk about the fundamental interconnectedness of things. Go read.

Also, in the NYT:

"The special counsel in the C.I.A. leak case has told associates he has no plans to issue a final report about the results of the investigation, heightening the expectation that he intends to bring indictments, lawyers in the case and law enforcement officials say.

The prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, is not expected to take any action in the case this week, government officials said. A spokesman for Mr. Fitzgerald, Randall Samborn, declined to comment."

A rather pithy letter:

Catherine Mathis
Communications Director
The New York Times

Dear Catherine:

A few questions need to be asked today related to Judith Miller.

First, why hasn't the Times written about how Miller may be called to testify in the Mohammed Salah torture case in Illinois?

Second, does the Times have any plans to soon write about this case and Miller's connection to it?

Finally, why was the Times scooped on this story by the Chicago Sun Times? Here's the link to their story.

A prompt reply is requested and appreciated.

Sincerely,
Michael Petrelis
NYT shareholder
San Francisco, CA

Slarti: Um, urk?

What the hell was Judith Miller doing in an Israeli interrogation cell?

Let me just hope that there aren't many important cases remaining where Miller's credibility can decide matters of life or death.

The other Miller story explained. Well, stretching the meaning of "explained".

Val-ley speak

um. What the hell?

Miller seems more and more like the prototype of reporters getting "captured" by their sources, for the sake of access and at the expense of the public.

Murray Waas' latest has a whole list of thins that look bad for Libby, including this one that's new to me:

"Finally, on September 29, the night before Miller was scheduled to testify before the grand jury, a source sympathetic to Libby spoke to journalists for at least three news organizations to leak word as to what Libby himself had said during his own testimony.

Journalists at two news organizations declined to publish stories. Among their concerns was that they had only a single source for the story and that that source had such a strong bias on behalf of Libby that the account of his grand jury testimony might possibly be incomplete or misleading in some way.

But more important were concerns that a leak of an account of Libby's grand jury testimony, on the eve of Miller's own testimony, might be an effort -- using the media -- to let Miller know what Libby had said, if she wanted to give testimony beneficial to him, or similar to his. (There is no evidence that Miller did not testify truthfully to the grand jury.)"

Oops, sometimes you miss things by not reading comments. I'm not sure what to say now, but an open thread post with the title, "John Thullen: bad for blogs, bad for America." would be pretty sweet.

"John Thullen: bad for blogs, bad for America." would be pretty sweet.

Anyone who cares, knows and is already bored by the knowledge. Anyone who doesn't care would be extra bored.

Sounds like a great campaign slogan, though, except that Christopher Walken's already running for president and is well on his way to cleaning out the wallets of those who would otherwise have formed John's natural donor base.

Well, that ended kind of badly, didn't it?

"Well, that ended kind of badly, didn't it?"

Like everything.

Nelson Report, cited on War and Piece:

"Before we start, today’s hot gossip is that Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald may have sent a “target letter”...an official warning of a likely indictment...to Vice President Cheney’s deputy chief of staff, John Hannah. According to sources which have been right from time to time, Hannah has told associates he has been forced to cut a deal, and that they think this includes testifying against his immediate boss, Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

Hannah’s name resonates to the insiders, since he is a samurai for UN Amb. John Bolton, detailed to the White House while Bolton was Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs...in other words, an office with folks quite likely to have known the CIA connection which may form the basis of any criminal indictments in this case..."

Round 'em up. Give'em the full-blown Sandy Berger maximum punishment. He stole and destroyed documents that were classified "Top Secret:Codename", during the course of the 9/11 hearings, which from what I can tell were about a pretty serious national security issue as well.

"Like everything."

You just couldn't wait for the open thread, could you? (><)

DaveC, Berger took copies of his own documents. It was determined that no info was either lost or compromised.

DaveC, Berger took copies of his own documents.

Sorry, no. There is no possible interpretation of "his own" that makes what Berger did legal, permissible or justifiable.

And the question of whether information was compromised must remain open, because documents were taken out into the open. What Berger did was a crime, and it's a crime for very good reasons.

There is no possible interpretation of "his own" that makes what Berger did legal, permissible or justifiable.

Sure. What facts have come out, as Rilkefan said, do demonstrate that Berger's illegal, impermissible, and unjustifiable acts had no real world ill-effects. I wouldn't ever let him near classified materials again, and I can't imagine what he thought he was doing, but what actually happened was no big deal.

What facts have come out, as Rilkefan said, do demonstrate that Berger's illegal, impermissible, and unjustifiable acts had no real world ill-effects.

No, that's not true. What is true is that there's been no evidence that harm was done. That's not the same as there being evidence that harm was not done.

Or perhaps there's been some finding that the documents were improperly classified, that I haven't seen yet...could be.

Back on topic, Bush knew who leaked 2 years ago.

"What is true is that there's been no evidence that harm was done."

There's no evidence that no harm has been done by anybody else who has access to classified material, and Berger at least has been thoroughly investigated at this point. He did something stupid and dumb and, sure, illegal, but not (from what I've seen) something leading to a leak of info, classified or not; and he did it in furthering the interests of the country, as everyone agrees.

Um, rilke:

If you've ever worked with classified data, you know that exposure of data is always a giant no-no. Mitigation of the crime can be accomplished if one can show that the information could not have been accessed by anyone unauthorized. Which brings me to:

There's no evidence that no harm has been done by anybody else who has access to classified material

For those of us who do have access to classified material and have NOT carried it out of its authorized repository, this is irrelevant. In the case of Berger, especially relevant.

It's a bit weird though that the man himself is a repository of classified data - data more sensitive than that in question - and he gets to wander around without a location chip.

"For those of us who do have access to classified material and have NOT carried it out of its authorized repository"

But is there evidence of that?


But anyway, shutting up now to avoid the appearance of criticising your work for our country.

It's a bit weird though that the man himself is a repository of classified data - data more sensitive than that in question - and he gets to wander around without a location chip.

Yes, I'm sure that once an accurate mind-reader is developed, a mind-eraser won't be far behind.

But is there evidence of that?

Ok, now you're just being silly. There IS evidence that Berger carried documents from their proper and authorized repository; this is in fact a violation of the law. When this sort of things happen, penalties can be scaled back a bit if it can be demonstrated that, for instance, no one unauthorized was able to gain access to the documents. Example: say I courier a classified package to another city. Let's say that I have the package in a locked briefcase, which I have placed under the seat in front of me on an airplane. In a fit of forgetfulness, I go to the men's room and leave the briefcase where it is. On return, I realize my error. On reporting my error, I am kept from being fired and possibly imprisoned by the following factors, in descending order of importance:

1) The package still contains all of the original materials.

2) The inner layer of wrapping is undisturbed.

3) The outer layer of wrapping is undisturbed.

4) The briefcase is still locked and shut.

5) I only left the package unattended for about sixty seconds.

There may be more, but the point should be clear: to the degree that I can substantiate that this information was not compromised, my punishment is reduced.

Berger, on the other hand, cannot even account for all of the documents he removed. This is a guy who was National Security Advisor; he by definition knew better than to do what he did. No one who's got an even grazing familiarity with rules dictating the treatment of classified documents could consider that what Berger did was just an accident, or that it was in any way innocent.

I know this all sounds paranoid, but that's how things work. If you're going to treat classified materials just like everything else, why classify? If the rules don't have teeth, why have rules?

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