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October 09, 2003

NEW PLAME THEORY....A few people have emailed to ask what I thought of Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball's article in Newsweek that proposed a new theory about one aspect of the Plame affair. I ignored it yesterday because I didn't think there was much to it, but since I've obviously dedicated myself to 24/7 Plame blogging, I guess I should at least link to it.

Basically, the article suggests that contrary to what the Washington Post's source told them, the Plame leaker didn't contact six journalists to try and spread the story. Rather, only Robert Novak was contacted, and the other six were contacted after Novak's column was printed.

I'm not sure it matters that much, but in any case their only evidence for this is that Joseph Wilson was not contacted by any reporters until after Novak's column ran. That strikes them as odd. But since those six reporters apparently decided not to pursue the story, the lack of calls to Wilson strikes me as not only not odd, but exactly what you'd expect. Why contact Wilson for a story you're not interested in?

(Isikoff and Hosenball also imply that there's lots of high level gossip that backs up their theory. Maybe so, but that's hard to evaluate, and in any case, as Atrios points out, there's at least one other journalist who was contacted before Novak's column ran. For now I'm going to stay agnostic on this.)

But this is also a good excuse to write about something I've been wondering about for a while: if there really are six journalists who were contacted about this, why haven't they come forward? I don't mean come forward to reveal their source, I just mean come forward to write a piece saying that they were contacted about this. It would be a good story, it's clearly news, and it's not breaking any confidentiality agreements. After all, their source wanted them to write about this.

It seems like there are a few possibilities:

  • There aren't six other journalists. The Post's source just got it wrong.

  • The journalists are all reliable conservatives, and now that the scandal has broken open they are staying quiet because they don't want to undermine the administration.

  • For some reason, they feel that even identifying themselves as leakees would violate source confidentiality in some way. Or else they're just chicken and don't want to run the risk of being served a subpoena.

Just wondering.

Posted by Kevin Drum at October 9, 2003 05:38 PM | TrackBack


Comments

I thought it was already well-known that the six journalists were contacted AFTER the Novak story. That info has been reported for weeks.

Posted by: John Cole at October 9, 2003 05:57 PM | PERMALINK

Mossad trains its women to have sex.

That's how Pollard was first introduced to his spying days for Israel.

Women trained to take sexual advantage of men. Not to earn money in prostitution; but to use their sexual skills to reach some other goal.

Where men can't be sent. THe vaginal dynamic is humongous, if one can refer to this hole in such a specific way.

You can't get to the information without the provider. Pillow talk training, anyone?

Posted by: Carol in California at October 9, 2003 05:58 PM | PERMALINK

Ok. Let me be the first to state I have no idea what Carol is alking about.

Posted by: John Cole at October 9, 2003 06:00 PM | PERMALINK

John: no, it's still unclear when the journalists were contacted. That's the whole point of the Newsweek article.

And we know for sure that at least one other journalist was contacted before the Novak column.

Posted by: Kevin Drum at October 9, 2003 06:05 PM | PERMALINK

I vote for theory #2.

Novak is a reliable conservative hack, so it makes sense the others they contacted would be too.

Posted by: Hackticus at October 9, 2003 06:13 PM | PERMALINK

Certainly the chicken theory has much to recommend it. (mmm, chicken.) I think resolution of the timing issue is some way off, absent further information from the original senior administration official who was the WaPo source. (and how does that official know, or come to believe, that there were six calls made before the Novak conversation, if that official is George Tenet?)

I'm not sure of the relevance of female Mossad spies using sex, but it sounds like the first few paragraphs of a thunderingly good airport novel, so do please carry on, Carol.

Posted by: Nasi Lemak at October 9, 2003 06:17 PM | PERMALINK

Isikoff is a two-bit whore. I wouldn't trust him for the time of day.

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at October 9, 2003 06:17 PM | PERMALINK

#2, with a bit of #3 thrown in too.

Posted by: alias at October 9, 2003 06:25 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's 3b. They are afraid of prosecution and the financial costs that might be to them and their employers. If Justice decides to really go after the leaker, they certainly can subpoena these reporters and _try_ to compel their testimony. While I don't think they'd actually jail the reporters for a refusal to name names, they might hold them in contempt and levy large fines. Either the reporter or his news organization would have to pay that fine. Then there's lawyers' fees and time lost to work. It could be that they simply don't want the hassle of it all.

--Asa

Posted by: Asa Dotzler at October 9, 2003 06:25 PM | PERMALINK

John,

I don't often agree with you. But I agree with you on this one. I, too, have absolutely no idea what Carol is talking about. It certainly has nothing to do with the subject of this posting.

Kevin -- A day or two ago, I posted a comment on another thread which was, unfortunately, about #103 in a list that topped out at 109. But the point I made there was, I think, kind of important. It is a little off-topic here, but only a little.

If Bush genuinely wants to know the identification of the leakers (pre- or post-Novak story), then one possible way of finding out would be simply to "release" the journalists from their promise of confidentiality.

A whole lot of caveats go here. First, I personally think that Bush ALREADY knows -- and neither he nor any of the others in the WH want those names to get out. That's because, I suspect, they're very high names indeed, and the "leak" wasn't by somebody going off half-cocked, but rather quite thoroughly planned (if not really thoroughly thought through) by the senior political people there.

Second, Bush "releasing" the journalists from their promise to not release their sources' names (which Bush would do, presumably, via a public announcement of some sort) would work only if the leakers approached the reporters as agents of the White House. If they approached them as individuals -- "Hey there buddy, I gotta a little juicy insider stuff for you. But you can't identify me, or the boss would kill me!" -- then the reporters made their promises individual to individual, and nothing Bush or anyone else says is likely to get them to talk.

But there IS some indirect evidence for the "agency" theory, namely that TWO leakers were involved, which suggests that there was some planning beforehand. Lots of leaks in D.C. occur because someone has an agenda to push, or an ax to grind, or is looking for fame after a sorts, but rarely does it involve multiple parties.

And, if the leaker was highly-enough placed (Karl Rove, anyone?), then arguably he always acts as an agent of the Administration.

In any case, if they were acting as agents -- with or without actual permission from above -- then the journalists are obligated to honor their commitment of silence only to the agency itself (the Bush Administration). The moment Bush gives the word, they can speak up.

I don't suggest this as some sort of helpful way for poor, bewildered GwB to find out the names of those nasty leakers who compromised American security. Since I think (a) he already knows, and (b) whether he knows or not, he doesn't want the public to know, so I don't think he'll be taking any advice like this anytime soon.

BUT -- it COULD be the sort of thing all liberals and Democrats could start demanding. "Mr. President, if you really want to learn the identities of the leakers, why haven't you announced that ANY agreement of confidentiality those journalists thought they were making with the White House is now null and void, so that they can speak out if they wish?" One more way for us to put pressure on him to actually perform.

Again, even if Bush did make such an annoucement, there's no certainty that any reporter would speak up. But it couldn't hurt ... well, it couldn't hurt the public interest, although it could well hurt the Bush Administration politically. Such is life.

-- Roger

Posted by: Marsman at October 9, 2003 06:26 PM | PERMALINK

From a crime point of view, it doesn't matter whether there was one leak or six. The leak did its job and now everyone knows Plame's job.

If it's only one, rather than six bullets, the guy is just as dead. If it is one sperm instead of six, she's no less pregnant.

The only use the other five would be is if they can somehow lead to the leakers.

Posted by: NE1 at October 9, 2003 06:29 PM | PERMALINK

One small last thought to add to my posting above: if, as Kevin notes in his posting, the six journalists really were all reliable rightwing shills, then "releasing" them from their agreement will be meaningless in any case. They still won't want to endanger their good buddies in the White House.

-- Roger

Posted by: Marsman at October 9, 2003 06:30 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, Isikoff is saying that the other journalist might not have been contacted until after the Novak leak. Here's what he said in a chat today, when someone mentioned the Post article:

"Michael Isikoff: Yes, but consider-- one reporter (not multiple reporters) was cited in one Washington Post story, on Sept. 29 I believe, as saying he or she got one phone call before the Novak column from "an administration official"-- not a White House official as the Post's original source said. The lack of detail there is telling-- not only is the reporter not identified, neither is the official. Nor is a day given-- as int he phone calls that Andrea Mitchell and Chris Matthews had-- suggesting it is possible that hte reporter might be confused as to timing. IN any case, the piece specifically said that "MOST if not all" of the phone calls were after the Novak column, leaving the possibility that there might have been some before-- even though, as the piece said, many officials now suspect they were after."

Which prompted me to write in:

"Arlington, VA: Let me get this straight ... the administration official was mistaken about when the calls were made. The other reporter was mistaken about when he/she received the call. Robert Novak was mistaken when he called her an operative in his column. The original leak was a mistake. Come on!

Michael Isikoff: You wouldn't believe how many mistakes get made!"

And that tells you all you need to know about Michael Isikoff.

Posted by: mrmoa at October 9, 2003 06:30 PM | PERMALINK

The problem with b) is that it is starting to have the problem that all conspiracy theories have: lots of unintended or intended cooperation from the individuals involved.

So all six decided, individually, that as "reliable conservatives" they would stay quiet, or they all got together to coordinate.

A bit unlikely.

Posted by: Neil at October 9, 2003 06:40 PM | PERMALINK

"I'm not sure it matters that much"

It makes it look much more like the leaking wasn't motivated by revenge, but an offhanded comment to Novak over lunch, probably not knowing she was undercover, or making a very stupid mistake.
It also makes it that much harder for any investigation to determine the original source. Only Novak and the leaker know for sure, everything else is hearsay. No way this ever gets out, unless the leaker is motivated by patriotism or decency to give themself up and admit what happened so we can move on to arguing about tax cuts and judicial nominees.

Posted by: Reg at October 9, 2003 06:48 PM | PERMALINK

That's what I've thought about too Neil. But I sincerely believe that there are at least six other "journalists" out there of Novak's ilk that would sit on their hands for this administration. I'd like to know who they are, then I could probably guess whether they would or not.

Posted by: alias at October 9, 2003 06:50 PM | PERMALINK

For a while, the leak, spread 'n smear theory made perfect sense for me. Why leave six witnesses in gossipy Washington when you could just have one reliable one, and then spread the leak around after that?

But aside from the Washington Post's mystery journalists, there's a Time Magazine piece from 7/17. Tom Maguire found the link for the original version (on July 22 it was updated to include mention of Novak) at http://www.apfn.net/messageboard/7-19-03/discussion.cgi.36.html.

Relevant quote: "Some government officials, noting that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, is a CIA official who monitors the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, intimate that she was involved in his being dispatched Niger to investigate reports that Saddam Hussein's government had sought to purchase large quantities of uranium ore, sometimes referred to as yellow cake, for the purposes of building nuclear devices."

Notice how similar the quote is to Novak's. I think you can maybe plausibly argue that an official let Plame's name splip once, but twice? It had to be part of an organized campaign.

Posted by: Alex Parker at October 9, 2003 06:55 PM | PERMALINK

I thought it was already well-known that the six journalists were contacted AFTER the Novak story. That info has been reported for weeks.

The recent leak to the WaPo said 5 or 6 before Novak's column. These would all be felonies. Wilson talked about some leaks afterwards in which his wife was described as "fair game" because of the Novak column.

Isikoff's claim is that perhaps the WaPo leaker misremembered and all the calls to other journalists came after Novak's column. This tends to support Novak's suggestion that it wasn't a deliberate leak but a casual mention in a general discussion of Wilson. It could be a trial balloon.

Posted by: Roger Bigod at October 9, 2003 06:58 PM | PERMALINK

Just sounds like more spin to me. In fact, just the way the WH is behaving suggests they know they've been caught.

No, I'll go with 2 & 3. If I were in their shoes, I'd be keeping my mouth shut, too - speaking up would be to give even more weight to the charge, and undergod only knows what a vengeful White House would do about that.

Posted by: Avedon at October 9, 2003 07:19 PM | PERMALINK

I think Asa has it right. We haven't heard from the "journalists" contacted by the leakers because they fear getting caught up in a messy and expensive and time-consuming media/legal food fight.

Posted by: Ken at October 9, 2003 07:24 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sorry, but I refuse to take you seriously unless you come up with an infinite alternate scenarios and refute each one.

Posted by: squiddy at October 9, 2003 07:38 PM | PERMALINK

Other reasons the journalists wouldn't want to come forward:

4. It exposes them to being asked, "Why won't you name the source?" over and over and over.

5. It changes how people read their work (especially if they write about the Plame controversy), as everyone starts looking for "clues" to who leaked the information to them.

Generally, it opens them up to a lot of undesirable scrutiny.

Posted by: Swopa at October 9, 2003 07:45 PM | PERMALINK

It is door #2.

"The journalists are all reliable conservatives, and now that the scandal has broken open they are staying quiet because they don't want to undermine the administration."

It is a given that they would have called partisan hacks. Bob Novak and pundits like him. It is inconceivable that they would have called Paul Krugman.

Posted by: Nan at October 9, 2003 07:50 PM | PERMALINK

The Newsweek’s article is a pretty much an up-to-date Bush II Administration defense. Scooter or whoever just passed on Valerie Plame’s name to Novak in a middle of a conversation. He didn’t know she was covert. As for Karl Rove’s calls, they were all after Novak’s column was published. The real scumbag is the leaker who told the Washington Post that Valerie's name was given to Novak for revenge.

The problem with Michael Isikoff’s apology is that the Plame Affair is not about a possible felony but about the coverup. Some lower level fellow hasn’t fallen on his sword. It is high up and a symptom of the illegal evil character of the Bush II Administration.

Almost three months into the coverup and counting.

Posted by: Jim S at October 9, 2003 08:09 PM | PERMALINK

Sigh.

Yeah, Reg, talk yourself up.
Do you really want to go over the same old talking points again?

And Carol in Cali-
I'll bet you voted for the gropenator, correct?

Posted by: chunkstyle at October 9, 2003 08:19 PM | PERMALINK

I feel kind of sorry for those 2 newsday reporters who are going to be put thru all the shit described above. They were the ones to out plame as covert, if you believe novak misusing the word operative. The Time reporter just called her an official

Posted by: anthony cooper at October 9, 2003 08:20 PM | PERMALINK

why is everyone ignoring carol's mossad sex machines?

.

Posted by: bianco at October 9, 2003 08:24 PM | PERMALINK

Carol's stream of consciousness always make me chuckle a bit, but I think I get this one: she's talking about professional political whores.

Totally on target when talking about Novak, Bushco, and the other journalists who are probably seriously right-wing too. Who do you think they're going to call to break the law with: Krugman, Corn or Greider?

They're all political whores. Carol is a savant soothsayer.

Posted by: Tim B. at October 9, 2003 09:41 PM | PERMALINK

Chunkstyle, you're wrong. I voted NO on the recall. And, I was surprised that Arnold actually won. Since I didn't see the enthusiams the way people really went let say for Ike, or Reagan.

What happened, here, is that the People were very upset with Davis. And, they took him out. Because it was their right to do so. All you needed was the votes. And, Arnold got them.

As to this lady CIA person, I am just amazed how the democrats are so sure she's done great work in her life. When did the CIA ever do great work?

And, because I've read a particular story about the Mossad. How hard it is to get in. What they put their recruits through. Especially the women!

Part of the job for female spies is to put out.

They are sent to do the work men can't do. ANd, this has nothing to do with AK-47's.

A blond, 'looker,' however, fits the bill.

And, just a reminder that the Mossad did use feminine 'scent' to seduce Jonathan Pollard into spying. He was attracted to poon.

Or whatever word you want to use.

So that Valerie wouldn't want to be identified as a spy, I can understand. But falling all over this story? Give me a break. Her husband is a loose canon.

Bush was a fool to keep Tenet on.

And, that Bush is being bitten by the 'good old chaps' in his dad's agency is something out of Alice and Wonderland.

I guess the black bag guys were getting a bit concerned, hey?

JFK was taken out with real bullets.

Since then the operations work against the reputations of men in high office. Nixon wasn't a discovery of the Washington Post; but of an insider's leak. Pat Buchanan, anyone? He's been identified as Deep Throat.

Novak? Shallow as can be. So, I guess the new phrase will be "Shallow Throat."

And, because I have a sense of humor; and I think this Bush is unelectible (as Gray Davis proved what happens when the People really hate you) ... then maybe Rove leaked this as an exit strategy? His own!

You'd want to be blamed for the fiasco up ahead in November 2004?

Anyway, not only did Californians SPEAK, and they spoke to the CENTER, not to the left or the right. Then, maybe, DEAN'S STOCK just shot up?

A straight talking express machine may not be as stoppable as the Bush Family dirty tricks were able to operate against McCain?

Just asking.

My crystal ball needs fixing. I voted both No, and Bustamante. So obviously, I vote on a different scale than most people use when they cast their ballots?

And, while I'm surprised at the outcome, I'm all in favor of backing the candiate that wins. (This Bush didn't.) Arnold did. Time will tell if the voters will be satisfied. Or not. Time will tell us lots of things.

Posted by: Carol in California at October 9, 2003 09:50 PM | PERMALINK

Only an Oxycontin-addled wingnut could think this leak wasn't organized and approved, and now being covered up, by senior WH people. If you personally were trusted with top-secret, national-security information about WMD officers, would you call a national reporter and tell him it "by mistake". Would you be calling reporters at all? Novak, especially? Wake up.

What is telling is that they counted on getting away with it. That was the real mistake--not the "mistakes happen", no-one's-fault bullshit that Isakoff is trying to sell (to his lasting shame).

This betrayal of a WMD operative, and all the BS coverup, says all one needs to know about Bush and his die-hard supporters.

Posted by: Tim B. at October 9, 2003 10:02 PM | PERMALINK

Let's play a game. It's called "maintain your access, which is central to putting food on your table."

It goes as follows: There are six of us, in different offices. Each of us gets a call (not knowing about the others) from an official trying to get Plame outed.

Now, we have something vaguely resembling consciences, so we decline to run the column, but Novak doesn't, so he does his thing.

So each of us stares at Novak's column in incredulity. For all each of us knows, Novak was the only other guy given this information, so apparently our leaker was at least moderately serious about getting this out. What do we do?

1) Come out and take on Novak in a he-said she-said about the leaker?

2) Shut the hell up and hope it blows over, assuming that Plame wasn't as covert as you thought and that drawing attention to this whole thing is probably a bad idea anyway.

The answer is: 2. Especially if you lean Conservative anyway and don't want to start embarassing your President and/or Novak.

So a couple of months pass, and you've dodged the bullet. Suddenly, the WaPo pipes up that not only was Novak used for Evil, but also that you weren't the only other one contacted and that you've been sitting on a Federal felony for the past two months. The Adminstration goes into full Deny Mode.

Do you:

1) Announce that you were a target of the attempted leak, thus bringing the full wrath of
the "slime and defend" White House on your head and effectively ending your career as a conservative reporter/columnist? This in addition to admitting that you sat on the felony for three months due to craven cowardace.

2) Shut the hell up and prove your value to the leaker and hope that other leakers will see you as hyper-trustworthy at this point?

Well, now that we've played the game, let's go get some dinner. Wasn't that easy and fun?

Posted by: Kimmitt at October 9, 2003 11:24 PM | PERMALINK

Tim B.

I don't get it.

America was attacked on 9/11. And, Bush, who wasn't a popular man faced the nation shortly after this attack; and gave a speech from the well of Congress, stating he would fight terrorism.

Bush is NOT a bold man. He's much more like Gray Davis. Unfit for the job. And, sure if he shows up in a clean suit, and scripted, he can then go about his daily business without calling attention to either his incompetence. Or the fact that he is bought and paid for by special interests.

Was Iraq a ligitimate target? I think so.

Was the military successful. Yes, but not in the post-war planning. We're a very loopy country. We haven't won any post-war victory in my lifetime. Lucky that Europe and Japan got blasted to smithereens, since they had to rebuild. And, it seems they've rebuilt something of a better structure than what they had. But they're not us. We don't have too many friends in the world.

And, yet we not only have enemies. We have deep pockets. Stuff that's really sick is the scam/aid. The World Bank. The UN. And, the dying European Union. Dying, like us, with aged populations. Where the real growth for the future is definitely offshore. China, for one. India, for sure. And, Turkey. All different kinds of civilizations.

And, Saddam held a key in the Mideast.

Unfortunately, the Saudis own the Bush Family. And, Dick Cheney is all about energy all of the time.

The downfall for California occurred because our wealth got sapped not by Davis's crew, but by the republican, Pete Wilson, who 'solved' the special interest problems by de-regulation. We all got took, then. Just as we got taken during Reagan's run by the S & L's.

Now, something really strange is afoot. Inside this Bush's White House we have variations on the Kremlin coups. By the way, the dad's White House also had these back-stabbing staples.

How is it that Rumsfeld can attack the army?

How is it that the State Department, cloaking itself in "nice" sells our interests to foreign entities? Whose in charge? Colin Powell? Or the President who gets elected to office?

Something big happened on 9/11.

And, instead of a president who could pull a country together, Bush has managed to dissipate our strengths. Just as he traded Sammy Sosa. This man does not recognize talent.

And, instead of dialogs with bright associates, Bush is surrounded by 'loyalists' and prayer circles. And, people with faked, enhanced resumes. Condi Rice is not all that talented. But everyone fears saying anything that wouldn't be 'nice.'

What's going on?

This stuff with yellow cake, and someone as strange as Wilson meandering around Niger. And, Tony Blair in England? Since when did the Brits dictate policy? What was this dance with the UN? Whose interests need to be met, here?

And, this cacamamie story about the CIA. The black bag people. Oy.

I had an opinion that Bush is not only incompetent, he's an executive who runs things by chaos. The more things get distressed the more he's happy.

And, into this distress we now see stuff that makes no sense at all. A president who says "bring it on?" And, American soldiers are expendible like flypaper?

WHere do you see Bush making a speech that connects with the American people?

What does it mean that Bush's WHite House is unraveling? Isn't this like the stuff that was going on with Nixon? Guy won in a landslide victory, and then got paranoid on all of us?

In a democracy the best hope is that we have transparency. If Bush doesn't have agencies reporting to him that are up to snuff he is totally responsible for not firing people.

But then again, he's capable of trading Sammy Sosa!

Recognizing talent isn't Bush's strong suit.

Yes, Tenet was a Clinton appointment. Yes, both the CIA and the FBI are owned, lock, stock and barrel by the Saudis. Jews certainly can't get hired within. And, they fucked up. There's got to be major ass covering going on. Mueller, the FBI head, was only on the job six weeks when 9/11 happened. But what was Tenet's excuse?

And, what was Bush's excuse!!! He was on his ranch all though August 2001 and he wasn't paying attention to the increased intelligence reports! He said he saw them, but he was fly fishing. And, playing golf. Ashcroft? Aschcroft's job is to steal our rights for the religious wing nuts. He's not competent.

What we're seeing is definitely an unraveling. But why? Where are the heroes hiding? Did heroes take Nixon out? That's how we want our government run? By CIA leaks, and counter-leaks to decrepit people like Novak? We want Pat Buchanan and his ilk dictating our politics?

This whole thing smells so bad, you have no idea.

Bush can't find his both with both his hands, and Laura telling him what to do.

And, the in-fighting! How did that start? Okay. The president's poll numbers reflect his inabilities. And, now the zoo is letting all the animals inside eat each other.

But if this is Nixon redux, like history repeating itself, the old adage says, the first time it's tragedy, but the repetition is FARCE.

We need to stabilize Iraq. The war's over. But the UN won't help. The aid money is all scam all of the time. Selling out the Kurds now, by forgiving the Turks $8-billion in debt (after they crapped all over our soldiers and had our guys puking at sea without landing rights before the Iraq attack), now these buzzards get to fight the Kurds? In Iraq? Our friends get sold down the river? Just as the roadmap was meant to chew up Israel? This is what these goons in the White House were planning?

It's no wonder it's open season out there.

But it's a mess that all the wrong people are using to bandwagon onto. And, it's a disgrace.

The real story is that Bush doesn't know how to lead. This is not a competent White House organization. And, there's no great amount of journalism out there either putting a light on the real fight. Whose in charge? Why is everything being run amok?

Bush gave one speech in his life that made sense: America would fight terrorism. We would take the fight to the terrorists. Not that they would be able to take it to us. And, Bush, himself, has weakened this message.

Well, like his dad once said, "Read My Lips," and it became code words for "and if my lips are moving I am lying."

How this Bush threw a victory into defeat (just as his dad did in 1991) is gonna be something for the history books.

It would be nice if we could get on track and talk about this now, though. Instead of red herrings.

Posted by: Carol in California at October 9, 2003 11:35 PM | PERMALINK

My theory (which is mine) is that the other six journalists are embarassed. That they got the same leak that Novak got, and didn't write it up because it was irrelevant, but they also didn't catch the wider significance of the leak. As a result, someone handed them the keys to one of the biggest news stories imaginable -- that someone highly placed in the administration had just committed something close to treason -- and they didn't catch it. Unlike David Wossname at The Nation, the true significance of the information whizzed right over their heads.

If they come out now, not only are they put in a position of being asked to reveal a source, but they are also put in the position of admitting that someone handed them a Heaping Helping O' Steaming Scoop, and they blew it. So they can come forward and admit that they were asleep at the switch, or they can stay silent and tell themselves that they are remaining true to their journalistic ethical principles.

Never underestimate the power of embarassment. It is probably the mother of at least half of the coverups in history.

In thirty years, of course, when the embarassments of the past count for nothing more than a good anecdote over dinner, every journalist in Washington will claim to have been on the White House leak list, just like approximately 452 million people currently claim to have been at Woodstock.

Posted by: Ray Radlein at October 10, 2003 01:03 AM | PERMALINK

What's missed in all this speculation about why the six journalists aren't coming forward is the simple fact these six risk exposure.

Look, the WH isn't going to plant a leak with just any reporter; they're smart enough to plant it with someone who is friendly with, or, at least, sympathetic to the WH.

To admit you're one of the six is to 'out' yourself as an administration shill.

Posted by: JadeGold at October 10, 2003 06:36 AM | PERMALINK

I think Carol may be on to something re the Rove exit strategy. This is absolutely a sinking ship, time for him to leave and regroup behind the next big "I'd make a great King" Texan, as soon as he decides who it will be.
Rove may have simply miscalculated how long it would take to become a big story, hence the calls to six more wusses. He desparately needed someone to pick up on the subtleties of the story that "Wilson's wife is fair game". Imagine his anger when David Corn was the first, and for a while, the only journalist to recognize the felonious nature of the leak. Novak is such a partisan lackey that he went for the obvious and used the leak to discredit Wilson and his report.
If those called after Novak's column ran had done a story then, it would have simply been "me too, yep, Bob's right". If they had done a story after The Nation's editorial exposed "Nigergate Thuggery" they would have looked stupid.
Look for these "journalists" to come forward when there is something more to gain from doing so. I don't believe they are protecting their fellow conservatives as much as they are waiting to see how best to advance their careers on the story.
I predict no less than three books on the subject by next spring.

Posted by: Jeanne at October 10, 2003 06:58 AM | PERMALINK

I thought 3 of the 6 were supposed to be from the networks. If that's true, unless all 3 were from Fox, then they simply AREN'T "realiable conservatives", since the other 3 nets not have any correspondents who are "reliable conservatives".

Nice try at spinning this away, though, Kevin.

Posted by: Al at October 10, 2003 07:15 AM | PERMALINK

For the Nth time, this is no longer a weblog story. It's an Old Media story now, and will happen on Old Media time.

Yes, any of the six could get a whole lot of publicity by spilling the beans on the leak. But there's no pressing need to-- it's only been two weeks since the story went national.

Two weeks is chump change on the Washington scandal circuit. Nobody outside the world of blogs expects this to run its course in a matter of hours, and, in fact, it's in the media's interest to have it take longer. The longer the investigation runs, the more stories can be written about it.

There's no pressure on these journalists to reveal their sources, and there are plenty of reasons to sit on the information for a while longer. People here need to relax and accept that this will unfold on a longer timescale than you're used to in the world of instant punditry.

Posted by: Chad Orzel at October 10, 2003 07:48 AM | PERMALINK

Somebody clear me up on something here. One of the administration's defenses right now is that this leak, blowing the cover of a covert op, was just a slip. Novak seems to want us to believe this, that he was just having lunch with somebody in the administration and was told about the Plame/Wilson connection. And Reg exlains above that he thinks that that administration official didn;t realize she was covert or that he was blowing her cover.

However, from everything I've read, Plame DID NOT openly work for the CIA. She worked for a front company that provided her with cover for her CIA work. And apparently this was not common knowledge in D.C. (at least among her neighbors). So my question to Reg, how did this administration official know that she didn;t really work for this company, but that she actually worked for the CIA? If he knew she worked for this front company in public, but that the company was just a front for coverts, then he must have known that her circumstances for working for the CIA had to be at least somewhat sensitive, and he had to know that he was opening a door. And if he really was truly innocent (as Reg wants to believe) and thought she actually worked in the open for the CIA and that he wasn;t giving anything away, that may even be more disturbing, because it indicates the CIA isn't doing a very good job protecting the identity of its operatives.

In other words, Reg's scenario (the innocent leak)only works if either (a) she worked for the CIA in some kind of official capacity as well as undercover (allowing people to draw the line without knowledge of her undercover status) or (b) she didn't work for the CIA, but it actually was common knowledge that people that worked for this front company actually worked for the CIA. I have a hard time buying the second scenario, and even if that is the case, it doesn't get anybody off the hook, because it would seem to behoove anybody with that knowledge to ask themselves exactly why a front company was being used for a person's employment if that person was not operating covertly.

So my question is: Did she work in the open for the CIA in any capacity? If not, there's no scenario by which this was an accident.

Posted by: Doug-E-Fresh at October 10, 2003 08:24 AM | PERMALINK

Plame, in her day job, was a whore.

Women spooks are trained to get into the men they seek to obtain pillow talk information from. Or, to poison them. Whatever is on the black bag's agenda.

Too bad I don't remember the details of the MOSSAD story I read. Because becoming a spook in Israel is NOT easy. Once inside, not only is their training, there's frightening stories. The stuff secret societies use to 'make you a member.'

Maybe, on a small scale you can use the initiation rights of fraternities. Maybe, even more, if you know Masonic lore, you know the men being recruited get naked. The rites include total humiliation. (To make you a member.)

That AMerica is saddled with both CIA and FBI operatives who work against the Constitution is a FACT!

I've always felt Clinton knew the Pentagon would have done everything in its power to kill soldiers, if it made the Commander in Chief look bad. Clinton had to pick his way through a minefield when it came to the army. (And, to the faked 'intelligence' reports that got to his desk. Aspirin factories, misidentified, so to speak.)

That Bush is now dealing with this stuff makes me so suspicious!

These people (not the American people) are inside his White House because they've passed the Bush Family loyalty test.

So?

So, is this a story like Julius Caesar's, where lesser hungry and lean men take advantage of their commander's back?

Is there really a cabal that wants to unseat others?

Here, my answer falls to a 'yes.' Rumsfeld has no love lost for the Pentagon. And, he has used his powers to chew into the military's mighty budget.

Well?

Didn't the Dulles Brothers get to have a CIA by getting the army, or forcing the army to give up it's military intelligence unit?

So, instead of seeing a TEAM; maybe, through corruption you're seeing the 1919 Baseball equivalent of the White Sox? Ring Lardner walked into their locker room during the world series, whistling "You're Forever Throwing Ball Games," bubbles, my friend.

This stuff stinks.

But from where?

Is the President in jeopardy? We've lost a few presidents this way. But, Bless Clinton! He hung on for the wild ride.

Would I have suspected that when Bush's incompetence broke it would eminate out of his WHite House? Well, I didn't think you could choke on a pretzel, either. Or that the president would watch a big game ALONE!

As I said, I smell it.

But I don't know where the 'where' is.

And, I don't know why.

Is it a turf battle run amok?

How can democrats even be in the middle of this?

My eyes pop when I read how close this Wilson character is to the homosexual journalistic alliance that just had a field day beating Tony Blair's ass black and blue.

THe English don't vote in our elections.

How did this bozo in the White House align himself with 'that' frat boy?

Hello, to those who believe in "original intent." Let's start with the fact that our Founding Fathers' held a revolution to throw the English out! We don't kiss the Pope's ring. And, we don't have to kiss those dudes over the Ocean, in England. Let them cuddle with their stupid queen. We're not involved. And, this idiot in the white house tied 9/11 to Blair's behind?

Well, I do know the story stinks.

But, it's out'a Alice And WOnderland. Let me tell ya. Though not as amusing.

Posted by: Carol in California at October 10, 2003 03:19 PM | PERMALINK

This stuff stinks. But I don't know where the "stink" comes from.

The Mossad trains homosexual cabals to vote No on the recall. But Tony Blair choked on a Dulles brothers pretzel.

My ass is black and blue. Lean and hungry men kiss the Pope's ring.

Well?

Posted by: SqueakyRat at October 10, 2003 11:29 PM | PERMALINK

Well, SaueakyRat, I'm sure all spook agencies uses homosexual, erotic, and sado-masachistic come-ons to snare their prey.

No, the MOSSAD doesn't train Americans. Too bad.

This country's 'intelligence' gathering resides in the hip pockets of the Saudis. SO, we're told there's no one who could'a read those August 2001 messages about graduating from 'flight schools.'

The only time spook agencies reach for women and 'others' for undercover work, is to break into places they couldn't ordinarily go.

Of course, we do have George Tenet telling congress that one reason there was such poor intelligence, was that it was IMPOSSIBLE to break into Al-Qaida's tight network.

Sure. Then, we had a CIA officer shot in Afghanistan. By an American kid. Who walked into the Afghanistan camp, and within 20 minutes was not only a volunteer. He met Bin-Laden, himself, in one of the caves.

And, you think Valerie Plame wasn't hired for 'being a babe?'

So, who then was Tokyo Rose? What was her job description? Did it include seduction? Wasn't she always aiming at our soldiers groin level?

Just asking.

You seem to think the CIA trains language specialists. And, you forget pillow-talk. The international language done when you're naked.

How does the MOSSAD train, here? Very effectively. They say when they're finished training a woman you'd tell her everything she wants to know. Sometimes, your testicles, guys, would still even be considered operation, when you left the bedroom. But don't bet on it.

Hey, our CIA, love those fellas, tried to kill Castro once (out of many attempts), by having his mistress poison him with pills they hid in her facial cream jar. Too bad no one realized the pills would melt in the fat. And, caught, this lady was tortured to death. (For Castro, mistresses are disposable. Like cigar lighters, I guess.)

Yes! This is dangerous work! But a hole is a hole is a hole. And, the CIA does their work along these lines. That's why they're unaccountable. That's why the stuff they do is called "black bag jobs."

And, that's why our democracy erodes. Journalists just go after the reputations of our elected officials; like it's some sort'a successful policy.

WASN'T WITH CASTRO, ASSHOLES! (Not you dear readers. This remark is addressed to George Tenet.) It's why I'd like the whole, hole, agency OUTED! Security, my foot. (Oh, yeah. The CIA has fetishists too.) Wanna bet?

Posted by: Carol in California at October 11, 2003 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

Well, I don't really know much about the Plame situation, but as an American who has been living overseas for the last seventeen years, I can tell you this for a certainty. In any foreign capital, every private expatriate American who socializes at all with the Embassy community knows exactly who at the Embassy are CIA. If you knew that John was the former CIA agent, and you know that John just moved away and Dick has moved in behind him, and if you know that Mary is Dick's secretary, etc., etc....you get the picture. Hell, even Embassy staff often aren't hesitant to come right out and say it. It is very common knowledge. Local newspapers don't need sources at the Embassy to tell them who the CIA agents are. Quite frankly, it's the main reason I just can't get interested in the whole Plame affair.

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