October 31, 2005

Who is To Plame for This

In the midst of the Valerie Plame affair I am curious about many things. I wonder what the hell various members of the admin were thinking such as Lewis "Scooter" Libby and Karl Rove and where this is all going to end up.

But more than that I wonder about Robert Novak and why his name has almost entirely disappeared from the conversation. Is he completely blameless here. Does he share any responsibility whatsoever for revealing her name or is he protected by his press credentials.

I also have a few questions for Judith Miller regarding why she went to jail and what her role is in this.

For those of you who have questions about overall situation you might want to take a look at this link to the Washington Post site. It is a Q&A about what is happening.

16 comments:

Stephen (aka Q) said...

Do you see this as evidence that the Bush administration knowingly lied to the American people in the build-up to the invasion of Iraq?
Q

Mirty said...

Robert Novak's role was discussed quite a bit on 60 Minutes last night.

Z said...

I think Karl Rove was thinking what he usually is thinking and that is he is better and smarter and craftier than everyone else.

Ezzie said...

Based on all that's come out so far, it's becoming more and more clear that Joe Wilson started a mess by writing his op-ed, which included false assertions. The Bush administration wanted to demonstrate that it was in fact false, and Libby and possibly others mentioned Wilson's wife (Plame) while doing so - and she was most likely not a covert agent at the time. The only problem is that Libby allegedly lied about this to the grand jury; but it is clear that no "outing" was committed, as the Dems have been claiming.

(And I do believe that if Libby is guilty it is a big deal, and he should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.)

Eli7 said...

Ahh--the question of the media in this whole mess. After only getting four hours of sleep in between helping put out a daily newspaper and getting to my internship last week, I heard someone say that really it was all the journalists' fault and that they should be held accountable. The people I know in journalism think there should be a federal law protecting journalsits in such circumstances. And clearly something went wrong with Judith Miller.

But the bottomline, I think, is that free press is important to this country. It is important to the way we get information, to what we know and what we think about, to telling us when something goes wrong. And I hardly think the answer is to limit journalists. Government officials know full well that if they leak a juicy tidbit to a reporter, the reporter is going to print it. Let's put the blame where the blame belongs.

judi said...

This is insane. Anyone who's ever taken a high school civics class should be able to figure out that yes, outing Valerie Plame was potentially very damaging to national security, not to mention her own and the security of any other operatives affiiated with her. There's even a name for this: treason, and it carries some of the stiffest penalties in the book.

It's also pretty easy to see that Novak and Miller knew exactly how much damage they were unleashing when they went with their stories, and should be held as responsible as anyone, since a free press doesn't give license for treasonous behavior. All parties involved placed their bets on their cases being difficult to prove, what with the cast of characters involved and their proximity to the Oval Office. I'm just hoping they get theirs in due time.

soccerdad said...

I'm curious, Ezzie, how is it clear that no outing occurred? And, on what basis do you conclude that she wasn't a covert agent? And ... oh hell, this list could go on. Virtually every conclusionary statement you make is easily challengable.

Jack's Shack said...

Hi Q,

I am not convinced that they intentionally lied but I think that they probably intentionally heard what they wanted to hear. The distinction to me is that they did think that there could be weaponry there and acted upon the basis of intelligence that was not as solid as it could be.

Mirty,

I am sorry that I didn't see that.

Z,

You could be right.

Ezzie,

You have to outline your case because I am not sure that I am buying it.

Eli7,

I have a BA in Journalism and am generally lean towards to journalist rights but I think that there is a balance here. Reporters need to consider carefully the role they play. Sometimes it is more prudent to withhold information than to release it.

That being said a free press is of paramount importance.

Judi,

There is one hell of a story here.

SoccerDad,

I am curious too. It is good to have a little dialogue, there is always room to learn something.

Ezzie said...

Outline: I wrote a post on this in July, and it has links and better details. But here's most of it really quick:

Bush states "Hussein sought to procure WMD's from Niger."

Wilson writes op-ed in NYTimes: "The
VP sent me to Niger to investigate claims. Saddam did NOT buy WMD's from Niger."

Novak debunks Wilson's claim, based on information gleaned from insiders. He reveals that the CIA concluded from Wilson's report that Saddam had in fact sought to buy WMD's from Niger, but was unsuccessful (Wilson later admitted this was true), proving that Bush's statement was correct. Novak also points out that it was NOT the Vice President who sent Wilson at all, but his wife, Valerie Plame.

According to Wilson's book, Plame returned from covert overseas missions in 1997 - 6 years prior. The law says that to knowingly and purposely "out" an agent (for the purpose of outing them) that the CIA is trying to protect is illegal. It was 6 years later; it is clear from Novak and Matt Miller that the polis definitely did not 'knowingly and purposefully out her'; according to Novak, it was a "weak request" from the CIA not to mention her by name; and they were not trying to out her, but rather demonstrating that Wilson lied in his infamous op-ed when he claimed Cheney sent him.

The non-partisan Senate Intelligence Committee (I believe that's who it was) agreed with the administration's account, and showed that Wilson was in fact sent on the suggestions of his wife, not Cheney.

The primary problem was the reporters: They immediately jumped on the false op-ed of Wilson, accepting it to be true. Had they been a little more skeptical, nothing would have happened. Instead, the government leaked the truth to the media - that Wilson was in fact a liar who had been sent by his own wife to Niger. Unfortunately, because she at one point had been a CIA agent, the journalists jumped on the incomplete info about her and assumed that in their quest to get out the truth, the gov. had outed a covert agent. This too has been proven to be false, and now they're left with nothing but threats against their own reporting.

Basically, because the journalists were too irresponsible to judge what should and should not be written themselves, the government may now decide to judge for them - which would be a shame.

A couple notes: Eli7: You contradicted yourself -

Government officials know full well that if they leak a juicy tidbit to a reporter, the reporter is going to print it. Let's put the blame where the blame belongs.

Why does it have to be printed?! The government is held to an impossible standard - 'Don't tell the press, because they're too dumb to know what to print.' No - the reporters should take the leaks, which are designed to give them information, and figure out which should be printed and which are meant to warn them about the false information they've received.

Judy - Those are ridiculous assertions. You're repeating media rhetoric. There was no "outing" here - Wilson himself mentioned her by name in his book and stated she'd been back for a while; she was not involved in any missions when this happened; AFAIK, she was never "affiliated" with other operatives (she was a WMD expert - no mention of working with others); and nobody has ever claimed it was damaging to national security - only that it may have broken the law, which it didn't.

Ezzie said...

I meant to include my old post... Here.

soccerdad said...

There are so many misstatements, it's hard to keep track...

Wilson didn't say that the VP sent him to Niger, he said that the Office of the Vice President was probably aware of his trip, based on his understanding of how things work in Washington. He also acknowledged that he had no idea if the VP himself knew about his trip.

The CIA has consistently indicated that Plame did not have responsibility for sending him on the trip.

And, the CIA is the agency that refused to endorse the sixteen words in the President's speech.

Just because she is no longer overseas on a covert mission does not mean she is no longer a covert agent. there are plenty of CIA coverts that have desk jobs stateside.

Any suggestion that the Senate Intelligence Committee was non-partisan is laughable.

Oddly enough, the day after Wilson's editorial ran, the Administration acknowledged that the sixteen words should not have been included in the President's speech, what does that say for the media's "jumping" on the editorial.

You also have major timing issues ... Wilson mentioned her by name in his book justifies what the Administration did? Come on ... how long after she was outed by the Administration did Wilson publish the book? By the time Wilson published the book, even my kids knew who Valerie Plame was.

And, finally, your attack on Judy is ridiculous. Plame wasn't "affiliated" with other agents? The information revealed by NOvak included the front company she worked for. You don't think that anybody else out in the field who claimed to work for that company weren't damaged by the disclosure?

You'll have to do better.

Ezzie said...

Soccer Dad - sorry, that's just not true: He implies in his op-ed that the VP wanted answers, and therefore the agency sent him; and that those answers most likely were reported back to the VP. Most people understood this as the VP sending him to Niger. Perhaps he didn't state it directly, but he should have corrected those reporters who made the implication.

Here's the Washington Post (which leans left far more often than right) said about the BI-partisan Senate committee: Wilson's assertions -- both about what he found in Niger and what the Bush administration did with the information -- were undermined yesterday in a bipartisan Senate intelligence committee report.

The panel found that Wilson's report, rather than debunking intelligence about purported uranium sales to Iraq, as he has said, bolstered the case for most intelligence analysts. And contrary to Wilson's assertions and even the government's previous statements, the CIA did not tell the White House it had qualms about the reliability of the Africa intelligence that made its way into 16 fateful words in President Bush's January 2003 State of the Union address.


[sic] The report states that a CIA official told the Senate committee that Plame "offered up" Wilson's name for the Niger trip, then on Feb. 12, 2002, sent a memo to a deputy chief in the CIA's Directorate of Operations saying her husband "has good relations with both the PM [prime minister] and the former Minister of Mines (not to mention lots of French contacts), both of whom could possibly shed light on this sort of activity." The next day, the operations official cabled an overseas officer seeking concurrence with the idea of sending Wilson, the report said.

Wilson has asserted that his wife was not involved in the decision to send him to Niger.

"Valerie had nothing to do with the matter," Wilson wrote in a memoir published this year. "She definitely had not proposed that I make the trip."

Wilson stood by his assertion in an interview yesterday, saying Plame was not the person who made the decision to send him. Of her memo, he said: "I don't see it as a recommendation to send me."


There's a lot more there.

And in terms of the administration saying that about the 16 words: That's wonderful, but Wilson still lied in his report, and they were pulling it not because Wilson said they purposely ignored intelligence; rather, his intelligence backed up the other info they had from the UK, and that info was false.

The point from Wilson's book has nothing to do with when he wrote it - when he wrote it doesn't matter, what he said does! And he wrote that she was back in 1997 - more than 5 years before this happened. She could still be a covert agent, but Wilson implied that she was no longer one when she came back.

Good point about the company name - only, I'm not sure where it was ever written. Novak did not write it in his article when he "outed" Plame. If you can find that, I'll take that back.

Ezzie said...

Also, quick notes: Wilson asserted in the op-ed that he knew the documents showing the sale were forgeries; yet this was only proven 2 months after the State of the Union address.

Quote about your point that they pulled it: The day after Wilson's editorial, titled "What I Didn't Find in Africa" appeared, White House aides said that the State of the Union Address should not have contained the reference. And Secretary of State Colin Powell, then traveling with the President in Africa, gave a press conference addressing the issue, saying "There was sufficient evidence floating around at that time that such a statement was not totally outrageous or not to be believed or not to be appropriately used. It's that once we used the statement, and after further analysis, and looking at other estimates we had, and other information that was coming in, it turned out that the basis upon which that statement was made didn't hold up, and we said so, and we've acknowledged it, and we've moved on."

For more, check out the Wiki article... Wiki is definitely non-partisan, and tends to lean slightly left (though it's pretty good) if only because there are more left bloggers than right.

soccerdad said...

Ezzie,

I'm curious, if you think that all of these things that Wilson "implied" prove that he was a liar and not to be trusted, do you also consider all of the "implications" of the Administration that turned out to be wrong also mean that the Administration has lied and is not to be trusted?

Ezzie said...

Soccer Dad: I think Wilson lied because he claimed he knew the documents were forgeries, then admitted he didn't know this until after the President's speech; that he claimed he was being non-partisan, when he announced in a speech a month earlier that there was a story that he was going to push that someone was going to help make sure didn't die; that he said the President "knew" the Niger claim was false because of his report, yet what the CIA got out of the report was the opposite; and that he claimed the government was trying to get at him by outing his wife, when in fact they were trying to correct his misstatements (purposeful or otherwise).

Also in the speech: US is trying to help Israel dominate the Palestinians; Bush is President for sex; and more. Listen for yourself.

soccerdad said...

Ezzie ... you choose to believe in your set of facts, I'll choose to believe in mine. The truth probably lies somewhere in between.