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September 30, 2003

MORE CONSERVATIVE REACTION....Since I ripped into conservative reaction to the Plame scandal last night, it's only fair to note that there are some conservatives who get it:

  • RealClear Politics: I do think this is a serious matter that requires urgent attention from the White House. If the charges are true then the guillotine needs to come out quickly - even if the head that eventually rolls out the front door of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is an indispensable asset to the administration like Karl Rove.

    ....So my advice to the administration is this: get to the bottom of it quickly and get on with business. If the charges are true, take your medicine and put an end to the matter as a political issue. There's a political silver lining in taking swift action.

  • Dan Drezner: As I've said previously, what I would like to see is a strong denunciation by President Bush about what took place....Let me repeat -- this is a serious allegation, and I want to see the President address it directly and publicly.

  • Tacitus: Whatever else this ends up being, it will certainly be a test of the politicization of the Executive branch at the Cabinet level and below. And if someone did purposefully blow Valerie Plame's cover, that person richly deserves jailing. Whomever he may be.

    And this: ....as for the subject of the press conference in question: it just gives me a bad feeling. I don't see this ending well. Best possible case for the Administration now is that there's a public furor, at least in some quarters, and months of nagging questions, strange manuverings, and accusations. And that's not a very good best case at all. Unfortunately, if there was nothing to this, I can't help but believe that the White House would have quashed it already.

Holding your own people to account isn't easy for any of us, either liberal or conservative. These folks have shown they're willing to do it, so kudos to them.

To everyone else: Waiting for all the facts to come out is fine (although some of us are waiting a little more, um, aggressively than others....) However, minimal decency requires at least a simple agreement that this episode, if true, is deeply wrong and should be dealt with harshly.

UPDATE: John Brothers feels the same way.

Jay Caruso too, who also thinks I should back off my criticism of conservatives over this. Just to make this clear: my criticism is reserved for those who are desperately trying to minimize the importance of leaks like this. Anyone who agrees that this is important but is just waiting for more facts is off the hook. (Off my hook, anyway.)

Posted by Kevin Drum at September 30, 2003 12:35 PM | TrackBack


Comments

Hey! Where's the love?

Posted by: Jay Caruso at September 30, 2003 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Alright, I'll say it:

This episode, if true, is deeply wrong and should be dealt with harshly.

There. Feel better?

Posted by: Joey at September 30, 2003 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

This episode, if true, is deeply wrong, and should be dealt with harshly.

And I mean that sincerely.

Posted by: Kenneth G. Cavness at September 30, 2003 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

From the latest AP story. Sweet.

link

The focus on Rove brought an odd twist to Bush's travels. When the president boarded Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base outside of Washington, he walked up the steps and waved -- and not a single camera followed. He looked momentarily perplexed. All lenses were trained on Rove at the bottom of the steps.

Posted by: grytpype at September 30, 2003 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Upcoming trailer for the conservative-in-denial line on Plame-gate:

This episode, if true, is so bogus that it's unbelievable. So there. Q.E.D.

Posted by: David W. at September 30, 2003 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Sure, if the worst case is true. If something less than that is true . . . well, it just depends on how it all comes out.

Frankly, I'd have blogged more on this myself if it hadn't hit the fan right at the start of the baseball postseason. Down with the Hated Yankees!

Posted by: Crank at September 30, 2003 12:55 PM | PERMALINK


To everyone else: Waiting for all the facts to come out is fine (although some of us are waiting a little more, um, aggressively than others....)


Really Calpundit? Like just what are you doing that I'm not? Tell me why your stance is superior to mine. I mean, besides castigating anyone who has a "wait and see" approach (which, um, is not helpful to the actual potential criminal case we're talking about)



However, minimal decency requires at least a simple agreement that this episode, if true, is deeply wrong and should be dealt with harshly.


Duh!


What does that have to do with your implication that those of us who adopt a "wait and see" approach are lacking in some way?

Posted by: Name: at September 30, 2003 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

From atrios' site...

http://stream.guardian.co.uk:7080/ramgen/sys-audio/Guardian/audio/2003/09/30/300903borger.ra

"Several of the journalists are saying privately 'yes it was Karl Rove who I talked to.'"

Might explain why the media has spent so much time focusing only on rove, instead of other viable suspects... Because they already knew it was him.

Posted by: Gabe Lanham at September 30, 2003 01:01 PM | PERMALINK

First impressions are lasting impressions. And the admin's first reaction to this?

No Big Deal.

and:

We'll Investigate. Eventually. Starting Tomorrow. Wink Wink.

Posted by: squiddy at September 30, 2003 01:01 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think he's criticizing you at all... I think he's simply saying that there are those who are sitting back, kicking it, waiting for more info... and then there are those (*raises hand*) who are frothing at the mouth, champing at the bit, and mentally masturbating to the image of Ol' Karl on Froggie-Parade.

Posted by: Ben: at September 30, 2003 01:01 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, I'm waiting and seeing.

But there's a difference between waiting that hopes the White House can squash this, and waiting that wants a full investigation to clear the air. I'm sick of having a vague miasma of never-quite-proven allegations trailing after our presidents.

If someone in the Bush White House committed a serious felony -- especially if in pursuit of a political end (think Watergate, not Monicagate) -- then let's get that person, and those who knew, out of their position of responsibility and appropriately punished.

Posted by: PG at September 30, 2003 01:02 PM | PERMALINK

Drezner & Tacitus have always demonstrated wisdom and consistency in their capacity to critique either side of debates that others utilize to be partisan. They remind me of the old-fashioned conservatives, like James Kilpatrick, who could actually persuade me from time to time, instead of the 4 x 4 bludgeoning that many on the Right wield today for the sheer enjoyment of pissing folks off.

Thank God they're not all Jerry Springer Conservatives.

Posted by: Kevin A. Hayden at September 30, 2003 01:02 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Kudos to you for giving credit where due.

If someone deliberately and knowingly outed a covert agent they should be fired and jailed. If this action endangered US intelligence assets, then the senior officials who knew / should have known should resign.

The right people (the DOJ counter-espionage unit) are on the job to investigate; let's see what they come up with.

Posted by: marc at September 30, 2003 01:04 PM | PERMALINK


and then there are those (*raises hand*) who are frothing at the mouth, champing at the bit, and mentally masturbating to the image of Ol' Karl on Froggie-Parade.


Well if that's what he's sayin', then ok... no argument ;-)

Posted by: Name: at September 30, 2003 01:05 PM | PERMALINK

If this episode is true, I'm still supporting Bush. Leaking the name of an agent is indefeinsible, immoral, and even criminal, but at least Bush is willing to aggressively prosecute the war on terrorism. That's more important to me than a few crimes.

Note: I think that the most likely interpretation of what happened is that some political hack exposed Plame without realizing that it compromised intelligence sources. I don't think that Karl Rove, or anyone else, did this knowing that it might lead to the capture and execution of American agents.

If my assumption is wrong, and they revealed the true identiy of a secret agent knowing that it put lives in jeapordy, then I can't support the Administration. Someone should hang for that, and Bush should suffer at the ballot box.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at September 30, 2003 01:06 PM | PERMALINK

at least Bush is willing to aggressively prosecute the war on terrorism. That's more important to me than a few crimes.

i'm gonna put that one on my fridge.

Posted by: ChrisL at September 30, 2003 01:08 PM | PERMALINK


there's a difference between waiting that hopes the White House can squash this, and waiting that wants a full investigation to clear the air.


Sure there is. The latter applies to me. Who exactly is Kevin insinuating that the former applies to, in your view? If nobody, then I have no problem with what he's written, and have apparently misinterpreted his tone.


Posted by: Name: at September 30, 2003 01:08 PM | PERMALINK

P.S. By the way, I would like to say this for the record to anyone who thinks Kevin's final sentence makes a good point:


Those serial murders you've committed, if true, are deeply wrong and should be dealt with harshly.


At least have the "decency" to admit that, you good and vigilant citizens.

Posted by: Name: at September 30, 2003 01:12 PM | PERMALINK

While it may be true that the WH's best strategy is to try to deal with the matter as quickly as possible and move on, the real question is: what will be left of the WH after all is said and done?

Rove ("Bush's Brain") is unto himself a very big deal if he must leave. Who knows how many others at a senior level were either directly involved or seriously tainted by their own activities? Will the scandal hollow out the Presidency?

If Bush had any judgement in his own right, this would not be an irrecoverable crisis. Here again, though, his utter mediocrity and dim understanding of the complexities of governing hurts him, and hurts us.

Posted by: frankly0 at September 30, 2003 01:14 PM | PERMALINK

Over on Atrios:

Julian Borger Names Karl Rove

"Several of the journalists are saying privately 'yes it was Karl Rove who I talked to.'"

Posted by: squiddy at September 30, 2003 01:16 PM | PERMALINK

At least have the "decency" to admit that, you good and vigilant citizens

admit what? that convicted criminals should be dealt with?

don't forget, there's precedent for presidents named Bush to pardon convicted felons. we'll see if Jr has the backbone to watch one of his people spend time in jail.

Posted by: ChrisL at September 30, 2003 01:16 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks Kev for the conservative links. I need this kind of ammunition to convince my Republican friends that this is a serious crime and if proven, should be punished to full extent of the law. On the other hand, the type of moral relativsm demonstrated by Joe Schmoe is almost impossible to counter.

Posted by: Shelley of Westchester at September 30, 2003 01:17 PM | PERMALINK

What Kevin said.

Posted by: J Mann at September 30, 2003 01:17 PM | PERMALINK

I'd be thrilled it if was Rove, of course. But, I'd rather it be someone in Cheney's office or something like that. Rove can be writted off as a political hack. If he's removed, the problem is gone and Chimpy is home free. If it started upstairs in Cheney's shop, well, then, we have a different ball game, since the cancer can't be rooted out and not have the whole shop unravel.

Also, I think the whole "Rove did it, no he didn't" to be a media whore smokescreen and will buy the thugs some time on the political clock. I am sure the thugs want the focus to be on Rove, and are probably encouraging it. That way, if it is proven that Rove had nothing to do with it, they will be able to count on the media whores to call it a "Democrat Smear Attempt." By this time, Halliburton will have won another no-bid contract...

Lets not fall into the Rove trap, for I think it is just that, a trap.

Posted by: Hank Essay at September 30, 2003 01:18 PM | PERMALINK

What if the reporters who were approached to leak this were asked by other reporters: "did the caller's last name begin with R and end with E"?

Is that fair game?

Posted by: jdw at September 30, 2003 01:18 PM | PERMALINK

frankly0, if it _is_ Rove than Bush is officially in Deep Shit, because he's on record now saying that he wasn't the one. The only thing that gets Bush off the hook is if Rove says he lied to Bush, and even that won't help Bush much.

Posted by: David W. at September 30, 2003 01:21 PM | PERMALINK

RealClear: "There's a political silver lining in taking swift action."

Not if revealing one act by one guy exposes a whole horror story of other illicit acts -- which, you'll recall, is precisely what happened with Watergate, and why Nixon was so frantic to cover up that "fifth-rate burglary" (although we still don't even know for sure that he knew about it in advance). Bush has already shown, yesterday, clear signs of being very reluctant to investigate this -- which means either that it may involve somebody whom the not-very-bright Bush regards as indispensable to him (namely, Rove), or that it involves someone who, if indicted, might be willing to spill the beans on a lot of other ilicit activities. So, if there is any major meat to this scandal -- and we've already seen very preliminary signs that there is -- then the question is: is Bush a Harding or a Nixon?

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at September 30, 2003 01:22 PM | PERMALINK

>if it _is_ Rove than Bush is officially in Deep Shit, because he's on record now saying that he wasn't the one.

Eh... all Bush has to do is look really confused and say "I think Karl Rove is a good man." Over and over. The press will eventually give up. Works all the time.

Posted by: grytpype at September 30, 2003 01:23 PM | PERMALINK

The press will eventually give up. Works all the time.

Not if there's blood on the water it won't.

Posted by: David W. at September 30, 2003 01:26 PM | PERMALINK

If it was Rove, how did he find out that Plame was an operative? Would he have the type of clearance necessary to find out firsthand?

Posted by: jdw at September 30, 2003 01:30 PM | PERMALINK


From the Houston Chronicle:

"Rove has faced accusations before that he planted stories with Novak.

In 1992, Rove was fired as a consultant for the Bush-Quayle Texas campaign, after officials suspected that he was the source for a column by Novak and Roland Evans that portrayed the Texas presidential operation as in disarray. Rove was accused of making up the story because of a feud with the campaign's chairman, Rob Mosbacher Jr., whom the column reported, erroneously, was to be dumped.

At the time Rove denied he was the source, and he said the column was false."

Posted by: Phil at September 30, 2003 01:35 PM | PERMALINK

RealClear Politics has it right from a political standpoint. If Bush axes the responsible parties immediately, then not only will the scandal fade from view, he'll even get credit for standing up for what's right, putting law & American security before partisan politics, etc. If the stonewalling continues, it'll only get worse. Why do politicians never learn that the cover-up is always more damaging than the scandal?

And, as to Joe Schmoe's point (such as it is): wouldn't it be better for Bush to put an end to this affair quickly so he can concentrate on the War on Terra, instead of allowing it to drag on as a possibly-fatal distraction? If our success in fighting international terrorism rests on the continued presence of one or two WH officials, we're kind of screwed anyway. How essential to the fight against terrorism is Karl Rove, anyway?

Posted by: YT at September 30, 2003 01:35 PM | PERMALINK

Good question, jdw! How did Rove find out that Joe Wilson's wife was an undercover CIA operative? And did Rove have "need to know"? "Sources and methods" is (are?) about the most closely guarded type(s) of intelligence secret!

Also, who was the other leaker, how did s/he find out, and did s/he have clearance AND need to know?

If they found out from the same source, who was this source, and on what basis did this source determine that Rove and the other leaker had need to know? And perhaps more importantly, did this source have any knowledge of Rove and friend's intended use of the information? If so, said source is a co-conspirator!

And finally, what did the President know, and when did he know it?

Posted by: bleh at September 30, 2003 01:38 PM | PERMALINK

i've been wondering for weeks now just why Novak was not investigated, if not arrested, when the story first came out!
granted there are certain protections of press and their sources, but there are also limits to those protections, just as free speech is limited within the boundaries of harming others. for example, those who post the names and addresses and photos of abortion doctors along with hatred and thinly veiled suggestions for their death. this blasts the boundaries of free speech protection.
and novak's writing - and the CST publishing - of this info just went way too far, knowingly breaking a federal law that exists to protect CIA agents AND national security, all without Ellsberg's high-road motivation to protect US citizens from governmental lying in the Pentagon Papers.
the nuremburg trials convicted, and i believe hanged, the publisher of the German paper, stating that he had abused his role as protector of the public trust by inciting the very hatred and fear necessary for the Nazi regime to perpetrate their crimes.
Novak operated on behalf of a lying government, to further their agenda. No one has yet even suggested any reasonable (let alone decent) purpose for doing this, all just lame excuses; it is evil at its core.
And YES, it IS about Wilson!! The whole purpose of this evil deed was to silence him and scare others who would question the WH powers-that-wannabe. Wilson dared to take the Bushies to task on their erroneous presumptions for war. War, folks. Soldiers continue to die. And Bush et al, continue to lie, obfuscate, manipulate, mislead, bully, and now ... threaten lives.
Does it get more despicable?
and food for thought: don't you know Novak would be far more inclined to sing his source's name were his neck on the block? And think of the precedent it will set if he is left off the hook.

Posted by: lll at September 30, 2003 01:40 PM | PERMALINK

What I cannot yet grasp is the reason some unnamed Administration official would out Plame? What was the desired result?

Posted by: Pixelshim at September 30, 2003 01:41 PM | PERMALINK

One section of the statute, I think the one carrying the highest penalty, requires the leaker to have access to the information.

One other section only requires that there was a pattern of leaks, which there seems to be if the leaker called 6 reporters.

Posted by: Reg at September 30, 2003 01:42 PM | PERMALINK

YT: This president is particularly incapable of the actions you'd like him to take, because he believes very strongly in personal loyalty — such that I firmly believe that were he ever put in the position of choosing "honesty, responsibility, and integrity" over "loyalty", he'd make the decision in favor of "loyalty" each and every time. For him, it's a two-way street. You scratch his back, he'll be there to rub yours when you most need it.

(This is a general statement, not related to any one scandal or potential scandal.)

Posted by: Kenneth G. Cavness at September 30, 2003 01:43 PM | PERMALINK

How essential to the fight against terrorism is Karl Rove, anyway?

The problem for Bush is that for him and his circle loyalty is paramount, as well as the perception that he doesn't make mistakes. I'm betting that he'd try to tough it out and bank on denial, delay and distraction (hey, there's a war on!) in an effort to avoid axing Rove.

However, Rove's past actions are going to make that a *very* tough row to hoe. Maybe a war on Iran is in our future...

(Damn, Kevin C. beat me to it!)

Posted by: David W. at September 30, 2003 01:45 PM | PERMALINK

>What was the desired result?

It was a feeble attempt to cast doubt on Wilson's credentials.

Wilson investigated the so-called "Niger Connection" and reported back that it didn't exist. So he had to be dealt with. The Bush Junta attacked his credibility by (among other things) revealing that his wife worked for the CIA and got him the assignment. Oopsie.

Posted by: grytpype at September 30, 2003 01:46 PM | PERMALINK

Would you be willing to add Andrew Sullivan to the list?

IN CASE I'M MISUNDERSTOOD: I'm not downplaying the gravity of this Wilson/Plame affair. I've already said that if someone leaked the name of an undercover agent, he/she should be fired and prosecuted. If true, it's appalling.

AS.com

Posted by: marc at September 30, 2003 01:46 PM | PERMALINK

Ho. Ly. Crap.

"If this episode is true, I'm still supporting Bush. Leaking the name of an agent is indefeinsible, immoral, and even criminal, but at least Bush is willing to aggressively prosecute the war on terrorism. That's more important to me than a few crimes."

And I think that's about all we need to know about Joe Schmoe, ain't it, fellas?

Posted by: Kenneth G. Cavness at September 30, 2003 01:46 PM | PERMALINK

And whats your evidence that Bush would put loyalty over integrity and honesty? A thorough psychological examination, I'm sure. Or is this kind of statement just gospel among lefties and needs nothing to back it up.

Posted by: Reg at September 30, 2003 01:48 PM | PERMALINK

Quick summary of Novak's explanation.

Posted by: PG at September 30, 2003 01:48 PM | PERMALINK

at least Bush is willing to aggressively prosecute the war on terrorism. That's more important to me than a few crimes.

Other than the Bay of Pigs (wrongly called an about-face by Kennedy when he was saying NO all along)and the Reagan pullout from Lebanon (post-barracks-bombing) and Clinton pulling troops out of harm's way in Somalia, I can't recall any time in my 50 years when Presidents of either party weren't prosecuting wars on terrorists or nations.

99% of the claims that either party's President is weak on terrorism or weak on defense is proven bunk. Some have erred, but none displayed weakness.

However, I'll keep it in mind that Joe Schmoe has a pro-crime platform in case he runs for office.

Posted by: Kevin A. Hayden at September 30, 2003 01:49 PM | PERMALINK

YT: Why do politicians never learn that the cover-up is always more damaging than the scandal?

It only looks that way becuase you're "counting the hits." The reason the cover-up is popular is that most of the time it works. It looks otherwise to we punters only because, by definition, we only learn about the cover-ups that fail.

Pixelshim: It was a two-fer. First off, they smear Wilson by suggesting that his wife wears the pants and that he only got the assignment through nepotism. Secondly, by ruining her career they send a warning to other potential whistle-blowers that they should keep their traps shut if they don't want similar treatment.

Posted by: Laertes at September 30, 2003 01:49 PM | PERMALINK

"If this episode is true, I'm still supporting Bush. Leaking the name of an agent is indefeinsible, immoral, and even criminal, but at least Bush is willing to aggressively prosecute the war on terrorism. That's more important to me than a few crimes."

Hard to even know where to start with this. But Joe, one thing you might want to keep in mind is that those crimes may have hurt us in the war on terrorism by ruining some of our intelligence on WMD. Cognitive dissonance, anyone?

Posted by: JP at September 30, 2003 01:49 PM | PERMALINK

"How essential to the fight against terrorism is Karl Rove, anyway?"

He's not. He's essential to maintaining the Bush presidency. Without his propaganda, it all goes to shit.

He's sort of like Bush's presidential mold. Take away the mold, and you have a pile of shapeless, useless, primodial goop.

Bush isn't giving up his cronies, no way.

Posted by: Alex in TX at September 30, 2003 01:51 PM | PERMALINK

Leaking the name of an agent is indefeinsible, immoral, and even criminal, but at least Bush is willing to aggressively prosecute the war on terrorism.

No, he's not. Valerie Plame, it's coming out, was an operative running a network dedicated to tracking any person or nation that might try to give weapons of mass destruction to terrorists. Someone senior enough in the Bush administration to know she was a covert operative outed her. Whoever did that didn't give a good goddam about "aggressively prosecuting the war on terrorism".

And given that Bush and Co sat back and declined to pursue the culprit aggressively in the two months between the original leak and the CIA finally asking the DoJ to investigate, Bush and Co don't care that someone senior in their administration is someone who thinks punishment to disloyal followers is more important than the war on terrorism.

So, I think it's perfectly fair to ask: Doesn't this mean that Bush and Co aren't serious about the war on terrorism? Because if they were, wouldn't there have been public White House outrage towards one of their own deliberately sabotaging it?

Just wondering.

Posted by: Jesurgislac at September 30, 2003 01:51 PM | PERMALINK

Reg? In his own words.

Do a search on "Loyalty vs. sycophancy", and/or do a Google search for Bush's emphasis on loyalty for more sources with the following phrases: "George W. Bush" loyalty; also, yes, it's a general feeling throughout years of being ruled by the man: first in Texas when he was Governor and I was there, and then again when he became President (I can't seem to escape this guy! :-) ); and finally, because, yes, this is what he's done before.

And finally: you're a twit. And I mean that in the nicest of ways.

Posted by: Kenneth G. Cavness at September 30, 2003 01:53 PM | PERMALINK

The administration could substitute a quick hanging for a slow twisting in the wind, but it won't stop the story cold, and it doesn't exactly cover Bush with glory. There's still the DoJ investigation, and a Major Player taking the fall has got to trigger a Congressional investigation as well. Add to that the discrepancy between the Protector of the Homeland and the Slumbering Dunce Whose People Sold Out National Security, and it looks like a question of how far the stain spreads, not whether it's permanent.

Posted by: D. Case at September 30, 2003 01:55 PM | PERMALINK

OK, ok, I agree. Now can I get back to waiting?

Posted by: Justene at September 30, 2003 01:56 PM | PERMALINK

Rove can be writted off as a political hack. If he's removed, the problem is gone and Chimpy is home free.

Bush can't function without his brain. If it is Rove then Bush's inner circle will have been shown to be. . .well seriously flawed. I think losing Rove to this scandal would be a mortal wound to Bush.

Posted by: David Perlman at September 30, 2003 01:57 PM | PERMALINK

Meanwhile, Reynolds, Sullivan and their ilk remain confused, or wait, the real scandal is this Wilson guy!.

Posted by: bling at September 30, 2003 01:59 PM | PERMALINK

That has to be the most idiotic, condescending fucking post i've ever seen. "minimal decency says....".

Nobody has said that if this is as bad as you, Kevin Drum, think it is that it isn't something that should be prosecuted.

the problem is that the story keeps changing and you seem to have this idiotic fetish with seeing if everyone is concerned enough that "if" it's true, that they all show the same concern you do.

Some people are waiting to see if it's true. Why the hell is that so bad?

I'm waiting to see if Kobe Bryant's a rapist or not. But just to show that i'm adequately concerned, should i say now that IF he did it he should go to jail? No shit he should go to jail, it goes without saying and i'm not demanding that all Lakers fans say that just to appease my fucking ego.

Posted by: greg at September 30, 2003 02:04 PM | PERMALINK

Before I begin, here is a caveat:

I do not think that revealing Valerie Plame's real name to Robert Novak is equivilant to revealing James Bond's true identity to the KGB.

There are two kinds of "covert" foreign agents. One has a transparently flimsy cover, and the other is much harder to ferret out. If you were the head of the FBI's counterintelligence division, and you saw a nuclear physicist from Lawerence Livermore having lunch with the wife of the Chinese ambassador, you'd be immediately suspicious. If, on the other hand, you saw the scientist having lunch with a fellow computer geek who emigrated from Fuchow 15 years ago, you would be much less suspiciouos.

It seems fairly obvious that when Ms. Plame was undercover, she was the former type of agent. She was married to an American foreign services officer and lived at the US embassy. She probably went to those parties where everyone's name is jotted down by the foreign nation's secret police. She may have had a "covert" role, but it didn't really fool anyone. And no, the use of her married name was not a brilliant subterfuge. I'm sure the ISI and the KGB aren't so easily fooled. If she ever attends a diplomatic mixer with her husband, this "cover" is blown.

Second, Ms. Plame may not have had a covert role for some time. She may have been manning a desk at Langley for the last several years.

It is true; revealing her identiy is a crime. If she has foreign contacts, their lives may be in danger. But I suspect that the political operative who outed her wasn't trying to blow her cover, or even destroy her career. He was trying to suggest that the intelligence bureauracy was trying to subvert White House policy. The political operative probably had no idea that he or she was putting lives at risk, or that a crime was being committed.

They are still guilty of a crime, but these are mitigating factors.

End disclaimer.

I don't think Karl Rove is essential to the war on terrorism, but President Bush is. Normally, I'd be concerend if the White House staff were breaking the law in order to smear a political adversary.

But Bush has got to stay in office. We are at war, and he's willing to stand up and fight. The Democrats are talking defeatism and surrender. They candidates themselves may be honorable people, but the far left voters who are driving the primary process are a bunch of anti-American tratiors. We can't lose Bush. I honestly believe that millions of American lives, and the lives of even more Middle Eastern people, are riding on his re-election.

If a scandal is going to taint Bush's chances for re-election, I want to see it squelched. I don't want anything to reflect badly on Bush. He's that important.

It's true, leaking the identities of agents is both illegal and immoral. But there are more important things at stake, such as the war on terrorism.

If the stakes weren't so high, I'd want to see the perpetrators caught and punished. But becuase this will sully Bush's reputation, now I just want them to be quietly sidelined.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at September 30, 2003 02:06 PM | PERMALINK

Tacitus wrote:

"And if someone did purposefully blow Valerie Plame's cover, that person richly deserves jailing. Whomever he may be."

Thus has Tacitus drilled himself a hole with which to emit excreta greater and fouler than that which descends from Limbaugh's derriere. This is all just a set up for him to screech that liberals are being unfair to the Bushites when the leakers finally are exposed. Why?

As Tacitus well knows, leaks are often done in cya mode - by hems and haws, by asides, or leaving the room with interesting folders "accidentally" left behind in plain view. Joe Klein was talking about this on Paula Zahn's show y'day with great candor.

And that's exactly how the story got leaked to Novak, who just about admitted as much. After it was in print, and Plame's name was public knowledge, then she was fair game. Then Andrea Mitchell was called up AFTER the Novak story was out and told about Plame perfectly legally.

In short, the Plame leak will unfurl as yet another typical not-a-lie lie from the Bushites.

So no kudos to Tacitus for his balanced fairness because he is not being even-handed in the slightest. To do so, he would simply have to acknowledge the truth, that Plame's name was intentionally leaked by folks high up in the White House, but in the sneaky underhanded way that has become this administration's modus operandi.

For to assume unintentionality on the part of the senior administration officials in this matter is either disingenous or pathetically naive.

(One hopes that Tacitus recognizes the parody of his liberal putdown style in the previous sentence.)

Posted by: tristero at September 30, 2003 02:09 PM | PERMALINK

the far left voters who are driving the primary process are a bunch of anti-American tratiors. We can't lose Bush. I honestly believe that millions of American lives, and the lives of even more Middle Eastern people, are riding on his re-election.

At least we know where you stand.

Of course one can argue that the way in which Bush has waged this war has strengthened the terrorists, not weakened them, but that argument is for another post.

However, I do need to say, I thought moral relativism was something that the right accused the left of. I guess not anymore.

Posted by: David Perlman at September 30, 2003 02:14 PM | PERMALINK

Ha. Wow.

You know, Tristero, when I've got you, Diana Moon and the guy running Little Green Footballs all shrieking about me in one 24 hour period, I have to say I feel pretty good about where I am.

Anyway, I don't "assume unintentionality."

Posted by: Tacitus at September 30, 2003 02:15 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Schmoe writes: " We are at war, and he's willing to stand up and fight. "

Not for his intelligence agents, he isn't.

Bush is spitting on the grave of Johnny Spann.

Posted by: Jon H at September 30, 2003 02:16 PM | PERMALINK

Joe, leaving everything else aside: it's too late for what you suggest here: If the stakes weren't so high, I'd want to see the perpetrators caught and punished. But becuase this will sully Bush's reputation, now I just want them to be quietly sidelined.

If Bush wanted to prevent the perpetrators who committed this felonious crime from "sullying his reputation", the time to move was in the months his administration had between the leak to Bob Novak and the CIA requesting the DoJ to carry out an investigation. The reason the President's reputation can't remain clear is because he himself has, by inaction, ensured that he's sullied by this scandal.

If you've got an objection to this, take it up with him. Sometime in 2005: ex-Presidents have lots of time to answer fan mail.

Posted by: Jesurgislac at September 30, 2003 02:17 PM | PERMALINK

Anyway, I don't "assume unintentionality."

Me neither. In fact, I can clearly see Bush agreeing with Rove that Wilson should be fucked. Just like John McCain was in the South Carolina primary, with Bush's knowledge and consent.

Posted by: David W. at September 30, 2003 02:18 PM | PERMALINK

Oh man. Joe writes:

"But Bush has got to stay in office. We are at war, and he's willing to stand up and fight. The Democrats are talking defeatism and surrender. They candidates themselves may be honorable people, but the far left voters who are driving the primary process are a bunch of anti-American tratiors. We can't lose Bush. I honestly believe that millions of American lives, and the lives of even more Middle Eastern people, are riding on his re-election.

If a scandal is going to taint Bush's chances for re-election, I want to see it squelched. I don't want anything to reflect badly on Bush. He's that important."

Hey Joe, if the survival of our country and, it seems, the future of Western Civilization is riding on the shoulders of George W. Bush, we've all got much bigger problems than any of us would ever imagine.

Do you truly believe this stuff? Even after watching what's happening in Iraq and Afghanistan? Even after analyzing the real state of security in the homeland 2 years after 9/11? Want to buy a bridge?

Posted by: Doug-E-fresh at September 30, 2003 02:18 PM | PERMALINK

Geez, Tacitus, you really know how to hurt a guy. First, I'm a genocidal liberal personally responsible for the deaths of millions in southeast asia. Now, I'm worse, I'm on a par with LGF. Now, THAT is really hurtful.

In any event, I'm gratified you don't "assume unintentionality." Because there was none in this leak. This is a terrible, criminal act that will not end happily for anyone.

Now that I know we are as close to agreement and civility as we'll probably ever get, I gotta go, Tacitus. I'm having some Vietnamese friends over for dinner and I have to cook some fava beans up for the side dish...

Posted by: tristero at September 30, 2003 02:26 PM | PERMALINK

Now, I'm worse, I'm on a par with LGF.

In terms of bitter personal obsession....yep.

Chianti will go well with that.

Posted by: Tacitus at September 30, 2003 02:29 PM | PERMALINK

grytpype:
"all Bush has to do is look really confused and say "I think Karl Rove is a good man." Over and over. The press will eventually give up. Works all the time."

It will certainly work with a large number of his supporters. Reactions to the current charges probably give us a good idea who they are.

I can sort of understand the conservatives who can't believe that anyone on the Bush team would knowingly launch a risky, traceable campaign of character assassination out of vindictiveness over a trivial episode. Perhaps they took the dispute over the Niger intelligence more seriously than some assume. I think the Bush team has had it with State Dept. pros making them look bad (think John Brady Kiesling), and they wanted to make a lesson of Wilson. It did take a while to garner attention- notably, it took the participation of Novak, even though David Corn reported well before- so Rove and company may have thought they'd got away with it. It wouldn't have been the first time they'd pulled off something similar.

Posted by: Robuzo at September 30, 2003 02:29 PM | PERMALINK

In the "you won't believe this" department: John Gibson on Fox News was just talking with Judge Andrew Neapolitano (may have that last name wrong), Fox "Legal Analyst," who says that if Plame's name and job had been widely known before, revealing it wouldn't be a crime. So, says Gibson, "speaking hypothetically", it could well have been Joe Wilson himself, introducing his wife to someone at a diplomatic function, saying "This is my wife, she's a CIA agent." Right. I kid you not. He really said this.

Posted by: Eli Stephens at September 30, 2003 02:31 PM | PERMALINK

that was satire Joe Schmoe, right?

Posted by: novakant at September 30, 2003 02:31 PM | PERMALINK

There, there, Joe, you may be overlooking another option. How about a Republican primary? You could run a conservative against Bush.

Posted by: Robuzu at September 30, 2003 02:31 PM | PERMALINK

"if Plame's name and job had been widely known before, revealing it wouldn't be a crime."

Yes, I can imagine Rove phoning a pack of journalists and saying, "This is pretty much common knowledge, but Wilson's wife is a spook." That definitely sounds like something he'd take time from his schedule to do.

Posted by: Robuzo at September 30, 2003 02:35 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Joe Schmoe! You can't be serious. Please tell me that you're Bill Maher, or Al Franken just having some fun and messin' with Kevin's readers. If you're not, and are actually a typical Bush supporter...sorry, I just got a cold chill...

Posted by: oneangryslav at September 30, 2003 02:35 PM | PERMALINK

"'Now, I'm worse, I'm on a par with LGF.'

In terms of bitter personal obsession....yep."

Oh, dear, your projecting again, Tacitus.

Care to bring that Chianti for dinner tonight? I can always make room for another if you don't mind potluck.

Posted by: tristero at September 30, 2003 02:35 PM | PERMALINK

In the "you won't believe this" department: John Gibson on Fox News

Sadly, the "you won't believe this" department put next to the words Fox News is becoming more and more believable.

Posted by: will_b at September 30, 2003 02:46 PM | PERMALINK

I honestly believe this stuff. Every word of it.

It wouldn't be appropriate for me to vote in the Republican primary. I am a Democrat. Really. I even consider myself a liberal. Truly.

Let me try to explain why I strongly support President Bush. We're at war; we can all agree on that. For this reason, I think the mindset that we should be cultivating is a fanatical desire to kill the enemy. Bloodlust. That's pretty much how I feel. I want to see a lot more war. I want us to drop a bunch of bombs and kill a lot of people. If someone even looks at us the wrong way, I want him to die horribly. I want Osama's head on a stake -- literally. Someone shoud sever it and place it on a wooden stake. Nukes? Definately an option. In fact, I kind of wish we could use them.

This does not mean that we should have war for the sake of war, or that we should engage in foolishly belligerent behavior. I don't want to see another Pickett's Charge. But it does mean that we should be agressive and decisive.

On a more sober note, we are at war for the hearts and minds of the Arab Street. That is our true objective. Right now, we're losing that war. I suspect that the average person on the Arab Street isn't interested in joining Al Quaeda. He's not so keen on the idea of a 7th Century theocracy, either; he likes to have an occasional beer and porn, and is more interested in getting a new satellite dish than in studying the Koran. He admires the faith of the extremists, but doesn't want to join them. In fact, he's a little wary of them.

But gosh, it sure felt good to see those Twin Towers collapse. We Muslims certainly showed those arrogant Americans, he thinks. Score one for our team!

We need to change this person's attitude. I don't know that invading Iraq alone is enough. In fact, I very much doubt it. But I *DO* know that showing weakness is suicidal. We can't afford to be weak in the face of the enemy.

I also think that it is important not to over-intellectualize this war. We must never lose sight of the fact that our objective is to win the hearts and minds of the Arab street. While allies might be temporarily convenient, if they make it more difficult to transform Arab hearts and minds, we should do without them.

When I look at the Democrats, all I see is weakness. They complain about the cost of the war. Are they insane? Don't they realize what the stakes are? We can't afford to be pinching pennies at a time like this. They also seem to have no grasp of military tactics or strategy. Casualties in Iraq have been low. Yet the Dems complain about them as if Baghdad were the Somme. Heck, most probably don't even know what the Somme was.

And past Democratic nominees don't give me much comfort either. George McGovern? Jimmy Carter? Walter Mondale? I am terrified of having these people in charge of our nation's defense. And don't try to tell me that "everything changed" during the Clinton adminisration. I don't regard Bosnia and Kosovo as major sea changes in foreign policy.

We need a fire-breathing, ass-kicking cowboy in the White House right now. We need someone who will FIGHT, not negotiate or create mutlilateral commissions.

When I look at Bush, I see someone who is spoling for a fight. When I look at the Democrats, I see people who are opposed to fighting. This terrifies me.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at September 30, 2003 03:03 PM | PERMALINK

The fact that there are people like Joe Schmoe out there is what terrifies me.

Posted by: slappy at September 30, 2003 03:09 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Schmoe writes: "When I look at Bush, I see someone who is spoling for a fight"

Bush picked a fight with Daddy once, but he was drunk. Other than that, he's a coward.

Posted by: Jon H at September 30, 2003 03:11 PM | PERMALINK

"I don't want to see another Pickett's Charge."

That was the enemy. You aren't watching the right TV shows, Joe.

Posted by: Robuzo at September 30, 2003 03:19 PM | PERMALINK

Joe, do you see the inherent contradiction in "bombing the shit out of anyone who looks crosswise at us" (I am assuming these people would most likely be Arabs) and "winning the hearts and minds of the Arab Street?" Well, let me give you a hint: You don't win the hearts and minds of people by bombing them.

We're not "at war" with organized states here, we're "at war" with an amorphous ideology and the groups that propogate that ideology. These groups are more like criminal organizations than states, they can't be destroyed by traditional war approaches. In rare instances where a state provides material support for these organizations (such as Afghanistan), maybe an argument can be made for your approach. But just about everywhere else, our approach is not seen as waging war against terrorism, but waging war against Arabs and Islam. Our actions are LOSING the hearts and minds of the Arab Street.

We tried this in Vietnam, and it didn't work there either. You don't earn the political support of a people by destroying the world around them.

Posted by: Doug-E-Fresh at September 30, 2003 03:21 PM | PERMALINK

P.S. Joe. If there is some legitimacy to the theory that we are going to earn the hearts and minds of the Arab Street by creating stable, prosperous states after we destroy the corrupt ones, what in the Bush Administration's handling of postwar Iraq has convinced you that these are the right people to actually do that? Even Friedman (the main propogator of this theory) thinks these guys are hopelessly incompetent on this front.

Posted by: Doug-E-fresh at September 30, 2003 03:24 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Schmoe,

Your deep problem is that you're so convinced of your theory that "showing strength" is the one and only solution to all of America's ills across the world, that it's obvious that nothing, NOTHING, will serve as evidence otherwise. Things fall apart in Iraq, looks like all the Iraqis are beginning to hate us? Well, that can only mean that we haven't been strong enough.

How does reality ever intrude into your circular logic?

From my perspective, I wonder instead, if Bush is so absolutely key to the war on terrorism, why does he seem to be doing such a wretched job of it? I mean, where is Osama? Why didn't President Cowboy catch him at the pass at Tora Bora?

Posted by: frankly0 at September 30, 2003 03:24 PM | PERMALINK

> If someone even looks at us the wrong way, I want him to die horribly. ... Nukes? Definately an option. In fact, I kind of wish we could use them.

> On a more sober note, we are at war for the hearts and minds of the Arab Street.

Tilt.

Excuse me, I think my brain just exploded. If you find the pieces, could you treat them gently and E-mail them back home? Thank you.

Posted by: Jonquil at September 30, 2003 03:39 PM | PERMALINK

C'mon, folks, you're arguing with a guy who in one post says that he's a liberal Democrat married to a conservative Republican, and then in another post in the same thread breathlessly proclaims that he couldn't imagine Wilson and Plame holding diametrically opposed political views.

He's the sort of guy who seems to really, really think that opposition to Bush's policy is anti-American.

If he's not an outright troll, he's obviously not thinking through what he says. What effect can mere logic have on a mind like that?

Posted by: Phillip J. Birmingham at September 30, 2003 03:40 PM | PERMALINK

Doug, I vehemently disagree. For one thing, we're not at war with an ideology.

First, I think you will agree that if we were to arrest every last terrorist in the world tomorrow, the war on terrorism would not be over. New terrorist groups would spring up to take the place of the old. I also think you will agree that it is impossible to secure US borders. If someone wants to smuggle a nuke or a disease into the US, they will find a way to do it. For this reason, this war cannot, repeat NOT, be won through law enforcement and intelligence sharing.

Second, I do not agree that bombing people only makes them angrier. It can also intimidate them. The historical precedents for this are legion. Al Quaeda had 18 suicide hijackers. The Japanese had thousands of kamikazes. Our bombings of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Tokyo killed millions of innocent people.

Where is the Hiroshima Martyr's Brigade? When was the last terrorist attack dedicated to avenging Nagasaki?

For that matter, why didn't former members of the Waffen SS officers ever avenge the deaths of Germans in Dresden and Berlin? After all, we invaded their homelands and killed thousands. Shouldn't they be seething with anger?

Where are those angry Peruvian, Nicaraguan, Guatemalan, and El Salvadorian terrorists? We've supported dictatorial regimes in all of these countries.

You might say that the Middle East is different. We'll see about that. I'll bet dollars for doughnuts that Iraq will be real quiet a year from now. The populace will not be rising up against us. We've killed a few Iraqi civillians, it's true. You know what? The rest will get over it.

Fear works. Intimindation is effective. It doesn't always backfire.

I think that this is exactly the approach to use on the Arab street. We need to be BOTH aggressive AND merciful. If we don't go to war, all of the kindness in the world will only make us look week.

Also -- and this point is even more important -- I do not see any way to reform the Middle East which does not involve the use of violence? Sanctions? Didn't work. Diplomacy? Please. You think that if we have our Ambassador ask King Fahd to start recognizing the civil rights of women, he'll simply agree? Do you think that by having our diplomats make speeches at the UN urging the dictators of Syria, Egypt, and Iran to hold free and fair elections, they'll be shamed into doing so? Would Hussein have done so? You know that will never happen. These evil regimes are one of the main causes of the hopelessness and rage on the Arab street. And they're not going to step down willingly. We need to force them out. Now that Sadaam is gone, hopefully the Arab street will see the light and be inspired to take matters into its own hands. If not, we'll need to intervene.

Lastly, and I cannot emphasize this strongly enough, we are not "destroying" the Arab street. We are IMPROVING it. We are bringing freedom and democracy. We are putting an end to torture and state-sanctioned murder. We are spending almost $20 billion on Iraq's infrastructure.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at September 30, 2003 03:40 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Schmoe writes: "We are spending almost $20 billion on Iraq's infrastructure."

At least half of that will be pure profit for the no-bid contractors.

Posted by: Jon H at September 30, 2003 03:42 PM | PERMALINK

Frankly0-

That is a false question. I do not know that Gore would have caught Osama. It's hard to catch someone like that. Eric Robert Rudolph hid in the woods of *North Carolina* for several years before we finally caught him. It took the entire world a couple fo decades to catch Carlos the Jackal. There are still former Nazis living in Argentina who have yet to answer for their crimes.

Personally, I think Osama is dead. But the fact that Bush hasn't caught him does not mean that Bush has botched things up.

Phillip-

I was telling the truth about my wife. My point is that if she worked in the Bush Administration, I would probably refrain from publishing an anti-Administration article on the op-ed page of the New York Times. I certainly wouldn't do it without her permission. I would naturally warn her before the article came out.

And my wife and I are opposites. That's unusual. Most often, people with similar views marry one another. For this reason, I suspect that Wilson's wife might well share his views. Again, my wife and I are opposites. I'd ask her permission before publishing the article. You think Wilson didn't ask his wife? I know he did. Any married person would. This doesn't make his wife complicit, but I do think that she could have stopped the article if she had wanted to. That she didn't speaks volumes.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at September 30, 2003 03:52 PM | PERMALINK

Jon-

Your statement is outrageous. Bush is demonstrating clear commitment to Iraqi reconstruction, and you rationalize it away by crying "Haliburton!"

Numbers don't lie. Bush is making a major effort to improve the lives of the average Iraqi. You are ignoring hard evidence.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at September 30, 2003 03:54 PM | PERMALINK

> This doesn't make his wife complicit, but I do think that she could have stopped the article if she had wanted to.

It's okay to out a CIA agent if she doesn't exercise veto power over her husband's essays? Fascinating.

Posted by: Jonquil at September 30, 2003 03:57 PM | PERMALINK

I didn't say you were lying, Joe, although I held it out as one possibility. I was also holding out the possibility that you say things that sound good without thinking them through.

Either way, arguing with you seems as fruitful as trying to pick up mercury.

Posted by: Phillip J. Birmingham at September 30, 2003 04:06 PM | PERMALINK

oh brother, here we go again with joe. I don't think he's a troll, but i do think that his faith in bush isn't accidental: they both think the same way. Once their minds are made up, no new information makes a difference to them.

I won't waste the time to spell out to joe why the middle east, 2003 isn't japan, 1945, but i will say that his notions about bush and rebuilding iraq are clearly built on not reading what the $20B is targeted for.

Planned communities?

Hiring expensive foreigners as war crimes investigators?

Detailed studies of the postal service?

The $20B, which in fact, bush is not yet spending, in part because he and his administration devoted no effort whatsoever to preparing the public for this kind of expenditure, and which, by itself, isn't anywhere close to the ballpark that the administration has cited for reconstruction of $75B, and which isn't going to be paid for by iraqi oil revenues despite the delusional expectations of the bush inner circle, is only too typical of the entire bush approach to iraq: heavy-handed, poorly conceived, and ill thought through.

We are past the point where these guys get the benefit of the doubt on anything with respect to iraq, and yet still joe schmoe tries to provide it to them.

P.S. Joe, your remarks about wilson and plame are, quite simply, despicable. Plame doesn't work for "bush," she works for america; wilson is enough of a patriot to have brought facts to our attention that the backbone administration was trying to hide or obscure; and your implication that there is anything acceptable about going after wilson by going after his wife is pathetic.

P.P.S. "Blood lust" was an excellent response the afternoon of 9/11/01; on 9/30/03 it's deranged.

Posted by: howard at September 30, 2003 04:16 PM | PERMALINK

Ok, I'm going to say this. I like Joe Schmoe and think he's pretty honest, but his comments here trouble me. His emotional investment in these odd arguments makes me wonder whether they reflect some personal experience.

Posted by: John Isbell at September 30, 2003 04:24 PM | PERMALINK

Howard, you are right, it isn't okay to go after his wife. I was trying to defend that, but it's indefensible.

I still don't know that the Administration was "going after" Wilson's wife. The buzz says that they "blew" her cover, but was her work for the CIA ever really a secret? Did she ever plan to go undercover again? Also -- and the significance of this cannot be overstated -- It's not like the CIA is going to fire her. I also doubt that this will prevent her from getting a promotion or a raise. No one at the CIA will blame her for this. If anything, they'll probably promote her just to get back at the White House. So how is the Administration "punishing" Wilson's wife?

I suspect that what really happened was that some political operative was trying to discredit Wilson by implying that his wife got him the job, and in doing so accidentally blew the wife's cover. Whoever leaked the news probably had no idea that he or she was committing a crime.

This doesn't mean that a crime was not, in fact, committed, but it is a mitigating factor. If Karl Rove did it, it doesn't mean he's a traitor. It means he made a stupid mistake. A wrong may have been committed here, but we're not talking the crime of the century.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at September 30, 2003 04:26 PM | PERMALINK

Reg: And whats your evidence that Bush would put loyalty over integrity and honesty? A thorough psychological examination, I'm sure. Or is this kind of statement just gospel among lefties and needs nothing to back it up.

Well, I wouldn't say it's "gospel among lefties." I'm not convinced of this, myself. But, lots of people, right and left, have claimed that loyalty is extremely important to our president, so it's not as completely off-the-wall as you make it out to be.

But, we will see soon enough whether or not it's true, won't we?

But, my original point wasn't so much about honesty, integrity, or anything like that. It's about plain old ordinary political survival. I don't see how Bush can come out of this without further sullying his reputation (which Joe Schmoe holds to be key to the fight against terrorism), unless he cuts whoever-it-is loose. Protecting the culprit will only drag the scandal out, and implicate the president in the crime. (In the public mind, if not in any legal sense like obstruction of justice or accessory after the fact.)

Posted by: YT at September 30, 2003 04:26 PM | PERMALINK

Okay. I think I've finally figured Joe Shmoe out. His last post did it for me: Fear works. Intimidation is effective. It doesn't always backfire.

He believes this, with all his heart, because he has managed to scare himself out of his wits. This is a guy who is in total panic. He doesn't care about thinking things through, doesn't care about what might actually work, he just wants his Bold President to Smash Those Bad Scary Arabs To Pieces And Make America Safe Again Forever. Boom. Kill them all. Use nukes on them. Turn the entire Middle East to glass. He is too frightened to allow himself to recognize the signs that this President isn't bold but foolish, that perfect safety is not an available commodity in this life, and that, in any case, this government isn't even slightly interested in making him safer.

He has it almost right -- fear does make people very easy to manipulate.

If they allow it.

Posted by: Canadian Reader at September 30, 2003 04:33 PM | PERMALINK

Joe isn't a troll; he is a fanatic. You can't argue with a fanatic. Logic will not work; evidence will not work; appeals will not work. There is absolutely no way to get through to Joe on the subject of Bush or the war on terror. He is mired in fear and sees Bush as the only way out.

There is not one word you can say, one argument you can use that will get through to Joe. Sad, really.

Posted by: PaulB at September 30, 2003 04:40 PM | PERMALINK

Joe wrote: " anything, they'll probably promote her just to get back at the White House. So how is the Administration "punishing" Wilson's wife?"

Joe, they destroyed her effectiveness. Her contacts have been compromised, her work can no longer be accomplished. Career-wise, she's dead in the water. If that isn't punishment, what the hell is?

Posted by: PaulB at September 30, 2003 04:43 PM | PERMALINK

If Karl Rove did it, it doesn't mean he's a traitor. It means he made a stupid mistake. A wrong may have been committed here, but we're not talking the crime of the century.

Don't be so naive, Joe Schmoe.

Without question Rove had some good reasons for blowing Mrs. Wilson's covert status. He was really mad at Mr. Wilson, you see, and outing Mrs. Wilson ensures that hereafter she...um...has a safe desk job at $94,000 per anum. See, he and the president are out for revenge. I read it on Atrios.

Also, Mrs. Wilson's network of spies is already now languishing in Wahabist dungeons in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, thanks to her outing. With the information the Taliban are able to extract from these captured U.S. informants, they'll soon be able to retake control of Kabul --which will result in our having to re-invade. Which, you guessed it, will result in a lot more conracts for Haliburton, where Karl is going immediately upon retirement.

Posted by: P. B. Almeida at September 30, 2003 04:46 PM | PERMALINK

Joe, first off, no one is using the term "punishing" with respect to Valerie Plame Wilson, although nice try.

Second, josh marshall, much more effectively than i could, discusses just exactly what kind of damage outing valerie could cause:

"We've heard a lot about how blowing Plame's cover was probably illegal and certainly dishonorable. But let's walk through what the implications are.

Plame's beat, if we can use that word, was weapons of mass destruction. And, of course, WMD is the big issue. It's why Iraq, why Joe Wilson, why Niger, why CIA referrals. That's what's at the bottom of all this stuff. Keeping WMD out of the wrong hands is, or was, Plame's job.

If that's her job you can figure that over the years she's been involved in various operations aimed at tracking proliferation, worked with various human sources, all sorts of stuff like that.

Now Plame's name has been splashed across papers all over the world. And the folks that leaked her name made sure that they used her maiden name, Plame -- the one she did most of her work under -- rather than Wilson, the name which I'm told she now goes by.

So now her name's out. You couldn't unlock everything just knowing her name -- covers are used and so forth. But once you know Plame is CIA, and what she looks like and so forth, you unravel most if not everything. And now every bad-actor and bad-acting government knows that anything that Plame was involved with, any operation, any company she was supposed to be working for, any people she worked closely with, are probably also CIA or at least work with CIA. WMD bad-guys now know to steer clear of them.

Let's say there's some operation Plame hasn't been involved with for a decade -- but it's still on-going. People will remember she used to be in on that operation and thus it's tagged as an Agency operation and it's useless. Everyone will know to steer clear.

Now, I have no knowledge of any operations Plame was involved in or covers she used. These are hypotheticals. But it gives you a sense of the sort of work she was involved in and the potential collateral damage of exposing her cover. And consider what her work was: protecting Americans from weapons of mass destruction. Chew on that irony."

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/sept0304.html#092903319pm

so - crime of the century? of course not. Inexcusable? absolutely. And who did it? well, i personally wouldn't be putting too much money on a low-level operative myself, but you pays your money and you takes your chances.

Posted by: howard at September 30, 2003 04:50 PM | PERMALINK

Joe isn't a troll; he is a fanatic. You can't argue with a fanatic. Logic will not work; evidence will not work; appeals will not work.

Evidence will work mighty fine. Produce it, and I'll be sign the petition demanding that Rove step down (or the president be impeached).

What doesn't work are anonymous sources, hysterical innuendo, and political conspiracy fantasies masquerading as objective analysis.

Posted by: P. B. Almeida at September 30, 2003 04:51 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with PaulB's second comment. I'll add that Joe and I have argued in the past and he's been quite open to argument, so I don't agree that he's someone who will never take an argument on board. For the record.

Posted by: John Isbell at September 30, 2003 04:52 PM | PERMALINK

Name: I'm a little late to this thread, but I was just poking fun at myself, actually. As in, I'm waiting and seeing too, I'm just doing it *really aggressively.*

Bonus for Heinlein fans: this is sort of like Mike's "waiting" in Stranger in a Strange Land.

Posted by: Kevin Drum at September 30, 2003 04:58 PM | PERMALINK

John Isbell, you're right - Joe once changed his mind and agreed with me on something (i thought that hart and rudman should have been named the co-chairs of a real 9/11 investigation), so i slightly overspoke.

But that is as nothing compared to p.b. almeida's pretend characterizations. The idea, in particular, that everything's fine because Plame still has a desk job is inane.

Posted by: howard at September 30, 2003 05:14 PM | PERMALINK

>It seems fairly obvious that when Ms. Plame was >undercover, she was the former type of agent. >She was married to an American foreign services >officer and lived at the US embassy. She >probably went to those parties where everyone's >name is jotted down by the foreign nation's >secret police.

The reason they released the name "Valeria Plame" and not "valeria Wilson", is because Plame is her maiden name, and supposedly the one she acted under in her "covert days."

Now then, if she was going by her maiden name... But isn't going by her maiden name now... Hmm, I wonder what could have happened? Maybe, just maybe, she hasn't always been married to Joe wilson!

Posted by: Gabe Lanham at September 30, 2003 05:43 PM | PERMALINK

Screw all you conservative fucks. It's been as plain as day that George Bush was an evil, immoral,lying sack of shit ever since he lied through his teeth during the campaign about the purpose, nature, and distribution of his tax cuts. Ever since he stole the White House. Ever since he perpetrated the biggest hoax in American history on WMD. And now that he condones traitors in the White House. Clinton left a stain on a dress but Bush is leaving his stain all over the American flag.

I tell you what -- and all you conservative fucks can kiss my ass if you don't like it -- nothing gives me a bigger, harder, more blue-veined political chubby than the idea of Karl Rove being frog-marched off to the government tailor to pick up his new black-and-white striped suit.

You conservative fucks made your bed. Now lie in it. Lying is something your good at, isn't it?

Posted by: The Fool at September 30, 2003 05:57 PM | PERMALINK

Jesus Christ, "The Fool", would you mind please dialing the rhetoric and insults down 50 or 60 notches?

Sure, I think Joe Schmoe is painfully, frighteningly, misguided too (not to mention Matt Young, conservatroll extraordinaire, who hasn't showed up in this thread yet) but elevating the level of the discourse a bit is what I've always enjoyed about Kevin's comments section. If I wanted to read "fuck you, you fucking fuck," there are any of a thousand places I could go.

Lets please not be what they like to claim we are.

---JRC

Posted by: JRC at September 30, 2003 06:11 PM | PERMALINK

May I make the startling suggestion that those of you piling on Joe Schmoe are really rather ignoring the arguments put forth by sane people perhaps because it's just so easy?

I personally get kind of uncomfortable when people pile on the mentally unstable. Just because you're on the Internet doesn't mean that there's not a real person on the other side of the screen, crying out for help. Just because Joe Schmoe hides behind an anonymous monikor doesn't mean that he isn't begging for people to see the real him.

Let's show some of that vaunted liberal sympathy and lay off the guy, eh?

Posted by: Kenneth G. Cavness at September 30, 2003 06:17 PM | PERMALINK

I personally get kind of uncomfortable when people pile on the mentally unstable.

To be fair, I don't think Joe is mentally unstable, and he has posted his real name here before.

Posted by: Phillip J. Birmingham at September 30, 2003 06:39 PM | PERMALINK

Get over yourself JRC.

I was just responding IN KIND to the jackoff upthread who said, " there are those who are sitting back, kicking it, waiting for more info... and then there are those (*raises hand*) who are frothing at the mouth, champing at the bit, and mentally masturbating to the image of Ol' Karl on Froggie-Parade."

Please note that, in the age old tradition of fools throughout history, The Fool often mixes trash talk and facts in a delightfully enlightening mix guaranteed to piss off the goody two shoes' while making sure that otherwise repressed feelings and opinions are publicly aired for the benefit of all.

Today's conservative Republican fucks have more than earned whatever vituperation they receive for all the reasons I mentioned above. Get that stick out your ass, boy.

Posted by: The Fool at September 30, 2003 07:10 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Schmoe's views are actually a lot closer to the norm in this country. I'll bet any poll would find a majority agreeing with him, and not the more critical (of Bush policy) voices here. Not that that makes those views correct or incorrect, I'm just saying.

I do think that a really indepth discussion needs to take place about our goals in the Middle East, and the assumptions about those societies, the best strategies for improvement, the likely outcomes of our wars, etc...
But I'm increasingly concluding that the internet is not the place for such a discussion - there's so much nuance, there's always an angle that can be picked apart, it doesn't seem to go anywhere. Maybe I lack the writing ability to pull it off, is all. Where do all the middle east scholars (besides Juan Cole) on this?

Posted by: andrew at September 30, 2003 07:15 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and I also agree with The Fool above. There's a place for anger and attitude, as long as the whole thread doesn't degenerate to that only.

There's a f*cking war going on, we are killing people and being killed as part of this bet we have with the future. This is a democracy, therefore we are all responsible for this. People should be pissed off, on both sides perhaps. The stakes are really high, especially for Iraqis and our soldiers.

Posted by: andrew at September 30, 2003 07:23 PM | PERMALINK

I am a conservative. I think this is potentially a very serious matter. I just think we should reserve judgment until we have the facts. No amount of hand-wringing now is going to put the genie back in the bottle, so we are able to conduct at least a cursory investigation before we engage in histrionics.

Posted by: Ben at September 30, 2003 07:39 PM | PERMALINK

Of course we should reserve judgment about the facts of Traitorgate until we have them. But you conservative fucks are long overdue in admitting that George Bush is what he SO obviously is: a completely unprincipled, hypocritical, sanctimonious, lying sack of shit blowhard. There is already plenty of evidence to make this case, some of the highlights of which I listed above.

BTW Ben: thanks for providing the imagery that inspired me. As Lowell George once said:

I gotta rocket in my pocket...
Ain't no way for YOU to stop it!
Rocket!
I say rocket!
Yeah, yeah, yeah!

Posted by: The Fool at September 30, 2003 07:58 PM | PERMALINK

Fool,

You do justice to your name. You refer to the "evidence" cited in prior posts, but all I see is a screed that is long on opinion and short on facts. You have, however, demonstrated one of the problems of the contemporary Left: If you hurl enough invective, you can successfully shut off the debate before you are forced to justify your positions. Nice job.

Posted by: Ben at September 30, 2003 08:19 PM | PERMALINK

Amen to Canadian Reader's comments. As for the Fool and his approach, it's hard for me to see how a string of profanity moves the discussion in anything but a negative direction. Hey, we're all pissed Dude. Tell me why in a cogent and civil way. Don't throw a tantrum on the thread.

It's Kev's home. Be a decent guest.

Posted by: Binky at September 30, 2003 08:26 PM | PERMALINK

Better a witty fool than a foolish wit, Ben.

Are you saying Bush didn't lie about his tax cuts when he said they were aimed at the middle class, Ben? Are you saying he was being truthful when he said during the campaign that the tax cuts were designed to cut the surplus and then later said that they were designed to reduce the deficit? Are you saying he wasn't lying when he used misleading averages to con people into thinking they were getting bigger tax cuts than they really were. Are you saying he wasn't lying when he said he would put the Social Security Trust Fund in a lock box even though now he's using it to fund tax cuts for the rich?

Are you saying that Bush and his surrogates didn't lie about the number of times the votes had been counted in Florida? That he didn't make himself a hypocrite by signing hand recounts into law in TX and then acting like hand recounts, which have a long and venerable history in the U.S., are the devil's work? That he didn't make himself a hypocrite by saying he had no opinion on the confederate flag in SC because he believes in states' rights but then went running to federal court in FL on a matter of state law, right after complaining about Gore's alleged endless lawsuits? Are you saying he didn't call for and benefit from hand recounts in other states while vilifying them in FL? Are you saying that he didn't argue that deadlines are sacred while demanding that late military absentee ballots had to be counted? Are you saying that he didn't demand that late absentee ballot sbe counted in Republican counties but not Democratic ones?

Are you saying that Bush DID know without a doubt, like he said he did, that there were massive stockpiles of WMD in Iraq?

Are you saying that Bush isn't being a lying hypocrite when he says he wants to get to the bottom of Traitorgate but didn't even bother to ask his staff about it for weeks and still hasn't?

Is that what you're saying Benny boy?

Posted by: The Fool at September 30, 2003 08:36 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Binky:

Kiss my ass! Politely!

Posted by: The Fool at September 30, 2003 08:38 PM | PERMALINK

Binky said, "As for the Fool and his approach, it's hard for me to see how a string of profanity moves the discussion in anything but a negative direction"

Hey Binky, it's hard for me to see how lying about what I have written, even if done ever so politely, moves the discussion in anything but a negative direction, jackass. Contrary to what you say, all my trashtalk is accompanied with facts and logic. None of my arguments depend upon the trash talk that spices them up and allows me to express myself.

Posted by: The Fool at September 30, 2003 08:42 PM | PERMALINK

Binky and Benny:

Here is the evidence from my original screed which you say is not there:

"It's been as plain as day that George Bush was an evil, immoral,lying sack of shit ever since he lied through his teeth during the campaign about the purpose, nature, and distribution of his tax cuts. Ever since he stole the White House. Ever since he perpetrated the biggest hoax in American history on WMD. And now that he condones traitors in the White House."

This is my short but sweet response to the claim that conservatives are just waiting for the evidence on Bush to come in. I'm saying, hey, what do you know! The evidence on lying sack of shit Bush has been in for a long time boys!

Posted by: The Fool at September 30, 2003 08:46 PM | PERMALINK

When I said Joe was a fanatic, I meant on the subject of the war on terror and on George Bush. On other areas, he can be reasoned with and occasionally has insightful things to say.

On the subject of George Bush and on the war on terror, though, I stand by what I wrote. Joe cannot be argued with or reasoned with. He has already admitted that he lives his life in fear. Read his posts above again in light of this. He is horribly, horribly afraid and he has invested all hope for the future in the person of George Bush.

Regarding those two topics, he personifies all three of the mythical monkeys -- hearing no evil, seeing no evil, and speaking no evil.

Posted by: PaulB at September 30, 2003 10:42 PM | PERMALINK

P.B., nice try. We can only speculate as to why the "senior administration officials" did what they did, so you are correct that we are not 100% certain as to what led them to do something this stupid. The speculation, though, is reasonable that it was done for two purposes:

1) To discredit Wilson by giving the impression that he was only hired because of his wife. We have already seen any number of columns from pundits and bloggers that use precisely this line of reasoning.

2) To send a message to anyone else who refused to toe the party line -- that they would, in Rove's words, "fuck them." In a particularly disgusting tactic, they went after Plame rather than Wilson.

Oh, and P.B., just what sort of evidence do you require? How many sources of evidence do you need that Plame was a covert operative? How many news organizations have to confirm this? How many times does the CIA have to say this? The fact that Plame was a covert operative has been established beyond any reasonable doubt.

The fact that Novak (and subsequently Time magazine) outed her is also established.

Accordingly, unless you are burying your head in the sand or are willfully blinding yourself to the facts, it is therefore clear that a felony was committed.

Now as to precisely who committed that felony and precisely why they did it, we do not know with 100% certainty, as I noted above. Anonymous sources have fingered Rove. We'll have to wait until a news organization breaks this or until the DoJ investigation is completed to find out the answers to the last two questions. The answer to the other questions above, though, is clear.

Posted by: PaulB at September 30, 2003 10:52 PM | PERMALINK

As for the conservatives who are trying to downplay the whole Wilson/Plame affair, I think the greatest culprits are Rush, Hannity, Scarborough and O'Reilly. Not the conservative blogs - with some exceptions. There are conservatives and there are Republican Party hacks. The bigwig names are hacks. The principled conservative bloggers - Tacitus, Caruso, eg - are entirely respectable people. And then there's the "Oh it's so complicated because on the face of it something awful was done by the Administration but I just could never believe they would do this" crowd, including Sullivan and Reynolds.

Posted by: Elrod at September 30, 2003 11:04 PM | PERMALINK

For what it's worth, David Gergen has been on television deeply troubled by these allegations. As a man who still supports the war and who did so from the beginning-- whether or not there were WMDs to be found-- he has leaped to the wild conclusion that this incident raises serious doubts about how the war was sold to the public.
He's not yet asking the Howard Baker questions, but that time, too, will come. And when it does,
true conservatives with a real love of country and principle, a love surpassing ideology, will be there. The public apologetics, denials, and weasling, however, is disgusting and pathetic.

Posted by: Tomm at October 1, 2003 04:08 AM | PERMALINK

Fool,

Here is what I am saying, but I am responding in an abbreviated fashion due to lack of time. Also, I don't recall all of your statements and do not intend to take the time to check them, so this response does not assume I agree that GWB actually said the things you attribute to him.

Let us begin with the definition of a "lie." My shorthand version is that a person has lied when he deliberately states as a fact something he knows to be false with the intention that it will be relied upon by others as true.

1. The statements regarding tax cuts were GWB's opinions; many economists agree with them. Even if they turn out to be wrong, they are not lies. In that case, they would be mistaken opinions. I don't recall any such statement about a lockbox, but if made, it is not a lie if he intended to do so at the time the statement was made. Since you do not know his intentions, you cannot say it was a lie. In addition, get off your high horse: the system is pay-as-you-go and has been used to offset the deficit by Congresses and Presidents of all political stripes since at least the 1960s.

2. The 2000 election is over. You should get over it too. GWB attempted to use the rules to his benefit, as did Gore. If their roles were reversed, both would probably have taken directly opposite views, as would you. At worst, he is guilty of being a hypocrite, which is different than being a liar according to my dictionary.

I don't want to get into an argument over 2000, so I will simply say that the votes were counted and GWB was declared the winner pursuant to the rules in place at the time of the election. I will also point out that when the media conducted recounts after the fact, GWB won the statewide recount under virtually every standard in use for counting punch ballots, including both of the two most widely used standards. As for absentee ballots, they are counted as received on the date of mailing. It makes no difference when they are received. Since military ballots do not get a postmark, date of mailing is now and always has been measured via other methods.

3. If GWB believed without any doubt that there were WMD's, then he did not lie. Saddam used WMD's in the past, and everyone (including the UN, the French and liberals) believed Saddam had WMD's. If it turns out he didn't (which is by no means certain), then GWB and a lot of other people were wrong. That does not make them liars.

4. I cannot comment about whether GWB lied regarding "Traitorgate" and neither can you because we do not know his intentions. I will point out that he has said publically he wants full cooperation and the WH Counsel's memo includes a presidential direction that no documents be destroyed. We will have to see what developes before we conclude definitively that a crime was committed by anyone and/or that GWB participated in a cover-up. Your fondest wishes do not indicate or predict reality.

As for the statement in your earlier post, here is your statement with my comments interspersed: "It's been as plain as day that George Bush was an evil, immoral,lying sack of shit (opinion) ever since he lied through his teeth during the campaign about the purpose, nature, and distribution of his tax cuts (opinion mixed with unproven factual allegations). Ever since he stole the White House (opinion). Ever since he perpetrated the biggest hoax in American history on WMD (opinion without evidence and most likely wrong at that). And now that he condones traitors in the White House (with the evidence presently known, you couldn't possibly know this even if it were true)."

Posted by: Ben at October 1, 2003 08:04 AM | PERMALINK

Ben:

I don't have time to reply in full right now -- I'll be back. Suffice it to say that you are a classic true believer in the Hofferian sense. You are dishonest, gullible, and intellectually unserious.

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