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January 12, 2004

O'NEILL UNDER INVESTIGATION....It took the White House over two months to shake off its apathy and start a probe of the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame. But when 60 Minutes showed a "secret" document provided by Paul O'Neill on TV last night they moved a bit more quickly: less than 24 hours later the Treasury Department announced that O'Neill was under investigation:

"Based on the '60 Minutes' segment aired Sunday evening, there was a document that was shown that appeared to be classified," said Treasury Department spokesman Rob Nichols. "It was for that reason that it was referred to the U.S. inspector general's office."

....Asked if seeking the probe may look vindictive, Nichols said, "We don't view it in that way," according to Reuters news agency.

Heavens no, of course not. Why would anybody think such a thing?

Perhaps because the document had already been released six months previously in response to a Freedom of Information request from Judicial Watch? That's quite a secret, isn't it?

More generally, I wouldn't bet on any of O'Neill's 19,000 pages of documents being illegal leaks of classified information, as some conservatives are now suggesting. I guess you never know, but usually people who leak classified documents do it secretly, not in a blaze of nationwide publicity to promote a new book. Just a thought.

Posted by Kevin Drum at January 12, 2004 04:31 PM | TrackBack


Comments

I must say, I'm bemused by this one as well. Even if O'Neill did something wrong here, it's rather bad timing to go after him now.

Posted by: James Joyner at January 12, 2004 04:37 PM | PERMALINK

Calpundit, you're such a cynic! There are real national security issues at stake here! Clearly you are "not serious," and probably hate America to boot.

Posted by: Realish at January 12, 2004 04:37 PM | PERMALINK

The GWBies have just thrown O'Neill and Suskind into the briar patch.

Posted by: penalcolony at January 12, 2004 04:42 PM | PERMALINK

usually people who leak classified documents do it secretly, not in a blaze of nationwide publicity

Such as in a nationally syndicated column?

I doubt this is a big deal, just more poor judgment from O'Neill.

Posted by: Crank at January 12, 2004 04:48 PM | PERMALINK

The most important thing you can take from O'Neill is this, and it's a scary thing when you think about it:

"It was not just about not wanting the tax cut. It was about how to use the nation's resources to improve the condition of our society,” says O’Neill."

Most of the American Public believes that their leadears always act in a way that they think best uses public resources the best.

Not this crew. In the thousands of decisions made by our government every day, they are not made by a criteria of what's good for you and your family, but rather what's good for the presidents re-election.

How far are they wlling to go? It's scary.

Posted by: Mike at January 12, 2004 04:54 PM | PERMALINK

The issue isn't the secrecy but the fact that he and Suskind misrepresented what the Iraqi oil field maps were. They were part of an energy assessment by Cheney and the map is one of a numbered series that includes other countries including Saudi Arabia. It had nothing to do with the war. Another of his documents dates from the Clinton administration.

Link: http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/005628.php

I think the administration would do better to leave him alone. The "Iraq for oil" thing will discredit the rest.

Posted by: Mike K at January 12, 2004 04:54 PM | PERMALINK

I have to agree with you Kevin...O'Neill is as shrewd as an old republican...no way would he leave himself open to this obvious frontal assault of the bush-junta.

Poor dummies...they are as dumb as their boss.

Posted by: -pea- at January 12, 2004 04:55 PM | PERMALINK

Umm, no, Kevin.

Looks to me like you are mixing two different documents up. Whatever Treasury is investigating is marked "secret" and has something to do with the NSC. The documents Powerline discusses (and links to) are not marked secret and have nothing to do with the NSC (they have to do with the Cheney Energy Commission).

Posted by: Al at January 12, 2004 04:56 PM | PERMALINK

RE: Realish -- "There are real national security issues here."

And what, pray tell, would those possibly be?

Why do I have the sinking feeling that we are acting out William Shakespeare's "Richard III" in real time? The Bush administration showed no such reticence about blowing the cover of a CIA undercover operative -- who was ironically a specialist in locating weapons of mass destruction -- se to avenge themselves on her husband for saying the president was full of shit about Iraqi designs on obtaining uranium from Africa. Now we're supposed to be worried about how Paul O'Neill potentially compromised our nation's safety? It is to laugh ...

My only question is how do we now lampoon hypocritical conservatives, when they've in fact become their own best parody?

Posted by: Oahu Guy at January 12, 2004 04:57 PM | PERMALINK

"it's rather bad timing to go after him now"

You mean the day after the secret documents were suppopsedly leaked? When would you prefer they go after him?

Two words, folks: frog march.

Posted by: Al at January 12, 2004 04:58 PM | PERMALINK

i wonder... how's the investigation going into the leaked memo from Feith ? yeah, thought so.

honor and dignity, baby. that's what our man W's delivers.

Posted by: ChrisL at January 12, 2004 05:01 PM | PERMALINK

Divert, divert, divert....

If Susskind had from O'Neill, say, a picture of Bush sacrificing babies to Moloch, and the picture was classifed "Secret", within 90 minutes, the entire corps of WH presstitutes would immediately be obsessed with how O'Neill came by the picture, in the process ignoring altogether the sacrificed babies.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina at January 12, 2004 05:07 PM | PERMALINK

some days, it almost seems as if the liberal press corps is desirous that a no-account faux-cowboy slimeball do well in national politics.

Posted by: ChrisL at January 12, 2004 05:09 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, your'e still giving too much credit to the White House. In the Plame affair, it wasn't the White House who initiated the investigation, it was the CIA's request for one that did.

Posted by: ch2 at January 12, 2004 05:10 PM | PERMALINK

Funny, Davis X! It's almost like if some left-wing couple decided to up their visibility in order to get into Vanity Fair, the entire corps of WH presstitutes would become obsessed with who leaked the wife's name to the press, in the process ignoring altogether their motiviation for trying to take down the President!

Posted by: Al at January 12, 2004 05:14 PM | PERMALINK

I find it interesting that my comments section was spammed with the entirety of the powerline post, in a thread about something else

I find it even more interesting that the post garnered 33 trackback links, all, to echo ted barlow, triumphantly proclaiming victory. It's like a wild stampede over on that side of the blogosphere!

But as von over at Obsidian Wings points out on this thread:


(1) This does not disprove, however, Suskind's or O'Neill's claim that the documents showed US plans for a post-war Iraq. The energy task force may very well have considered the possibility of invasion during its analysis.

(2) The Powerline blog goes an assumption beyond an assumption too far when it suggests that, because these documents were Energy task force documents they cannot be Pentagon documents. Copies of a map/document can be "owned" and used by more than one agency.

(3) Suskind, however, at a minimum mischaracterized the documents when he suggested that they were purely Pentagon documents. Assuming the Powerline blog's reporting is minimally accurate, this simply cannot be true.

As for Iraq enthusiast Laura Mylroie, well, I think this ought to take care of her credibility:


Mylroie became enamored of her theory that Saddam was the mastermind of a vast anti-U.S. terrorist conspiracy in the face of virtually all evidence and expert opinion to the contrary. In what amounts to the discovery of a unified field theory of terrorism, Mylroie believes that Saddam was not only behind the '93 Trade Center attack, but also every anti-American terrorist incident of the past decade, from the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania to the leveling of the federal building in Oklahoma City to September 11 itself. She is, in short, a crackpot, which would not be significant if she were merely advising say, Lyndon LaRouche. But her neocon friends who went on to run the war in Iraq believed her theories, bringing her on as a consultant at the Pentagon, and they seem to continue to entertain her eccentric belief that Saddam is the fount of the entire shadow war against America.

And finally, this whole thing about Iraq obscures the fact that nobody has refuted the substance of O'Neill's claim that Bush is not engaged in making policy.

So how about it, fellas?

Posted by: praktike at January 12, 2004 05:20 PM | PERMALINK

oops, sorry about the formatting.

Posted by: praktike at January 12, 2004 05:21 PM | PERMALINK

Al,
Gimme a break ! Taking down the prez ? If saying the truth is taking down the prez, then he needs to be taken down right now. Impeach the bastard.

Posted by: ch2 at January 12, 2004 05:22 PM | PERMALINK

you know, AI, someone must have asked you before this if you're a turing test or merely creating conceptual art by playing one in comments.

Posted by: julia at January 12, 2004 05:22 PM | PERMALINK

their motiviation for trying to take down the President!

...is roughly my doctor's motivation for lancing a boil, to wit:

It's rotten, it's infectious, it could spread and become lethal, and it's the doctor's job.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina at January 12, 2004 05:33 PM | PERMALINK

Come on give Al a break. Sure they can't refute anything O'Neil says, but they can try to prosecute him And then he'll becoming a criminal. And no one belives ex-cons, which is why no one believe the President. Oh wait...

Posted by: Rob at January 12, 2004 05:35 PM | PERMALINK

Nyuk, nyuk. I won't even attempt a snarky comeback, Davis X.

Still waiting for Kevin to realize that he's conflated two completely different O'Neil scandals, though...

Posted by: Al at January 12, 2004 05:36 PM | PERMALINK

Nyuk, nyuk. I won't even attempt a snarky comeback, Davis X.

Oh, please do.

I insist.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina at January 12, 2004 05:39 PM | PERMALINK

Right. And what's more, you have to ask whether a man of more than 30 years experience in several administrations, a man worth $100 million, would be so careless as to risk it all by illegal disclosure. The possibility of this is zero.

Posted by: BobNJ at January 12, 2004 05:41 PM | PERMALINK

Bad, bad move, TurdBlossom.

On the face of it, this looks like throwing a gallon of gasoline on a small spark. The story would die in a day or two. But this development seems to give it life for at least the rest of the week or longer (depending on how in-depth their investigation is). So why would they do this?

I haven't read thru all of the comments in all of the postings on this throughout the blogosphere, but has anyone considered the notion that this move--while in the short term politically dangerous--has longer term value as a warning to other future disloyal Bushies (the list must be growing). This administration can ill-afford to have more Suskind/O'Neill/DiIulio type stories emerging this year.

Posted by: greenplasticmike at January 12, 2004 05:46 PM | PERMALINK

While Al may be correct, it is not clear to me from any of the news reports whether or not the two documents in question are the same or different. Do you know for a fact they are different or merely assuming that is the case?

Posted by: David Perlman at January 12, 2004 05:49 PM | PERMALINK

Rob,
Al was talking about the Wilsons. He said that the administration knew that Iraq's attempt to buy yellowcake from Niger was bullshit, because he was dispatched to check the claim out and told them so. An absolutely truthful claim,

Posted by: ch2 at January 12, 2004 05:51 PM | PERMALINK

he's conflated two completely different O'Neil scandals

Whoa! Scandals! Already there's more than one. Sure is a good thing that those guardians of justice in the administration are ready to leap into action to save us all (from finding out what calculating scoundrels they are).

Today's simple lesson: If a Bush critic does it, it must be investigated instantly for possible criminality. If a Bush operative does it, it's for a higher good and no one dare question it.

Posted by: TonyB at January 12, 2004 05:56 PM | PERMALINK

The investigation is about "the document as shown on '60 Minutes' that said 'secret'"

It should not be too hard to figure out if there is another document here or not. If not Al and his Republican friends need to get together and figure out which set of talking points is the right one.

Posted by: David Perlman at January 12, 2004 06:01 PM | PERMALINK

David,

I'm only going by my reading of the CNN article linked by Kevin and the documents linked by Powerline.

The CNN article states the document that the Treasury Department is looking at is "marked 'secret'". It also quotes Suskind denying the charge, "referring to a National Security Council document on post-Sadaam Iraq."

Then I looked at the documents linked by Powerline. The JudicialWatch press release linked by Kevin refers to them as "Commerce & State Department Reports", and the TOC linked by Powerline refers to them as Cheney Energy Task Force. None of the documents are marked "secret".

So I guess it is possible that the two issues refer to the same documents. But there are certainly inconstancies in the reports.

Posted by: Al at January 12, 2004 06:03 PM | PERMALINK

Note to all:

Don't feed the trolls.

Posted by: scarshapedstar at January 12, 2004 06:09 PM | PERMALINK

Well, David, there's no "talking points" involved here, because Kevin's the only person I've seen who has made the error of assuming that the document in the Treasury scandal is the same document involved in the scandal Powerline noted.

I'm sure that if lots of other lefty bloggers and columnists start repeating Kevin's error, us Rove disciples will raise my remark to the level of "talking point", though...

Posted by: Al at January 12, 2004 06:11 PM | PERMALINK

Al,

Who cares? You're stuck in semantics. The real point O'Neill's book makes isn't some kind of "smoking gun" Iraq revelation. Rather, it is the way in which this administration is HIGHLY politiical and ideological and not concerned about facts getting in the way when the facts don't support the conclusions Defacto President Cheney wants them to reach.

Ben P

Posted by: Ben P at January 12, 2004 06:17 PM | PERMALINK

If they are different documents then yes, it is an open issue and should be investigated. I doubt O'neill would have made such an error, but certainly anyone calling for the investigation of the Plame leak should have no problem with an investigation. The alacrity with which the government responds to someone criticizing Bush, as opposed to someone on the 'inside' as in the Plame affair, is somewhat notable, however.

However the powerine blog and other republican freindly sources today have come out saying that nothing of any value was revealed by the oil document, proclaiming the entire thing a 'hoax'. Now, there is an investigation into the revealing of 'secret' documents. Those both cannot be true if it is the same document. Even if the documents are different, it seems that either something was reveaqled or nothing was revealed.

Posted by: David Perlman at January 12, 2004 06:30 PM | PERMALINK

"Who cares?"

Kevin cares, obviously, since he's the one who posted on the subject. If you want to discuss O'Neill's allegation about the political nature of the Bush administration, I think Kevin had a post specifically on that subject. My reading of this post, however, is that Kevin somehow thinks that the Powerline post proves that the Treasury allegations against O'Neill are baseless. I think I've shown Kevin to be in error (at least based on the evidence at hand).

Posted by: Al at January 12, 2004 06:34 PM | PERMALINK

Do they think we are friggin' idiots or what? I saw one of the Rethug "hotties"...Kelly Ann Something, a pollster on CNN earlier and she said WITH A STRAIGHT FACE that CBS showing this document and O'Neill's having it...get ready, she actually said this...

"This should concern all Americans"

She went on to say that it should concern all of us because the leaking of classified information was a serious matter, etc and on and on with no sense of irony whatever. When challenged re: the Plame investigation she explained how well it was going, etc..

Do they think we are idiots?

Posted by: marty at January 12, 2004 06:38 PM | PERMALINK

"probe may look vindictive"--Yeah, vindictive even faster that that going after Joe Wilson's wife.

O'Neill is "fair game" now.

Oh this administration is so nasty...but at least we know the doc they wanted was already released. Jeebus indeedy!

Posted by: Cheryl at January 12, 2004 06:41 PM | PERMALINK

Yes they do think we're dumb. But it helps when the person making such an assertion (Kelly Ann Conway, I think?) is probably not smart enough to see the irony in what she is doing, either.

Ben P

Posted by: Ben P at January 12, 2004 06:41 PM | PERMALINK

Must . . . follow . . . Rovian . . . talking points

Posted by: Ben P at January 12, 2004 06:43 PM | PERMALINK

However the powerine blog and other republican freindly sources today have come out saying that nothing of any value was revealed by the oil document, proclaiming the entire thing a 'hoax'. Now, there is an investigation into the revealing of 'secret' documents. Those both cannot be true if it is the same document.

Except that there's been two things that have been consistent with this administration; it's warring internal factions duking it out through various proxies and less than a passing acquaintance with the truth of anything.

Up can be down and 5 minus 3 can equal 7.

Posted by: Thumb at January 12, 2004 06:44 PM | PERMALINK

5 minus 3 can equal 7

or 3,000,000 jobs lost = economic recovery!

Posted by: ChrisL at January 12, 2004 07:16 PM | PERMALINK

Due to extensive investigation, we have concluded that the administration only has one map of Iraq and has to share it between all the departments and write on it with pencil, so it can be erased and used over again. A "Senior Official" stated today that in hindsight, they should have had the map printed on a whiteboard so they could use those neat fruit-scented markers to do all their Iraq planning.

Posted by: Ananna at January 12, 2004 07:17 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, you make it seem like calling for an investigation is a desperate attempt by the dubyas to gain the upper hand.

OR, it's just an investigation, inflated ONLY by the media.

Here's the rub: O'Neill did a shitty job, got booted, and now he's whining about it. This is typical of someone who gets fired. THAT'S all.

He didn't get his way, he got his feelin's hurt (aw, poooooor paully).

Posted by: bj at January 12, 2004 07:32 PM | PERMALINK

If he's whining, bj, it's a damn effective whine. With supporting documents attached.

Posted by: kimster at January 12, 2004 07:36 PM | PERMALINK

If by shitty job you mean he failed to convince Bush and Rove not to adopt irresponsible fiscal policies then yes, bj, he did a shitty job.

Posted by: David Perlman at January 12, 2004 07:42 PM | PERMALINK

BJ,

Spin it anyway you like, but the O'Neill book hurts Bush. Its currently number 1 at amazon.

It only reaffirms what I have always suspected about the administration - that it is corrupt, cynical, uber-political, ideologically driven, not concerned with facts when they don't support what they want to do - but if others are swayed by it, all the better.

Ben P

Posted by: Ben P at January 12, 2004 08:05 PM | PERMALINK

When will Instapundit chime in that the O'Neill investigation is bogus? Just curious.

Posted by: ArC at January 12, 2004 08:32 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, I should have said "scandal", not "investigation".

Posted by: ArC at January 12, 2004 08:33 PM | PERMALINK

is it just me, or does powerline have the gayest logo ever?

if i ordered that stupid sweater they have for sale at the powerline cafepress store i'd be afraid of being beat up by the teenagers on my street, and there's only teenage girls on my avenue.

Posted by: nova silverpill at January 12, 2004 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

Funny, Davis X! It's almost like if some left-wing couple decided to up their visibility in order to get into Vanity Fair, the entire corps of WH presstitutes would become obsessed with who leaked the wife's name to the press, in the process ignoring altogether their motiviation for trying to take down the President!

This is the funniest goddamn thing I have read all year. Brilliant satire - keep up the good work, Al!

Posted by: Ed Zeppelin at January 13, 2004 06:04 AM | PERMALINK

Al:

"Funny, Davis X! It's almost like if some left-wing couple decided to up their visibility in order to get into Vanity Fair, the entire corps of WH presstitutes would become obsessed with who leaked the wife's name to the press, in the process ignoring altogether their motiviation for trying to take down the President!"

Al, has the time order of events has always been a difficult thing for you?


Posted by: Barry at January 13, 2004 07:30 AM | PERMALINK

Has anyone even seen "60 Minutes"?

They clearly showed a document on the subject of planning for a post-war Iraq. After that they showed the map and list of suitors for oil contracts. So Powerline is not up to speed, and neither is Kevin or Slate (they have a link to them as well).

Posted by: wolf at January 13, 2004 08:30 AM | PERMALINK


What's truly depressing is that, according to a story in the WaPo, O'Neill says he still plans on voting for Bush.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A12358-2004Jan13.html

Posted by: Jon H at January 13, 2004 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

Fake-e-mail Al also is innumerate. He's happy to be off by an order of magnitude or less.

Posted by: zizka at January 13, 2004 01:35 PM | PERMALINK

Boy, this topic got A LOT of action!! I watched the 60 minutes piece and am now a bit more than moderately concerned that perhaps, just perhaps, anyone who speaks out (in public) against the president may be subject to "investigation". Gosh, this harkens back to the bad old days of McCarthy or maybe Nazi Germany?

Naw! Couldn't happen here in our 'free' country!!

Posted by: GulagWatcher at January 13, 2004 02:18 PM | PERMALINK

You mean the day after the secret documents were suppopsedly leaked? When would you prefer they go after him?

Al, if we go by the procedure followed by the White House in the case of leaking a covert CIA agent's identity to the press, "the day after" would be way too soon: the correct procedure is to wait 11 weeks for the CIA to press the DoJ to begin an investigation.

Posted by: Jesurgislac at January 14, 2004 03:50 AM | PERMALINK

Al sez: "Funny, Davis X! It's almost like if some left-wing couple decided to up their visibility in order to get into Vanity Fair, the entire corps of WH presstitutes would become obsessed with who leaked the wife's name to the press, in the process ignoring altogether their motiviation for trying to take down the President!"

Well Al, when you say "leaked the wife's name to the press" you misstate the entire story. Certainly you don't think Valerie Plame's identity has anything to do with this scandal. Everybody knew Valerie Plame's name and her public identity as the wife of the well-known American diplomat Joseph Wilson. What people did not know is that she was a deep-cover CIA agent. That's what was leaked by a high-level White House insider to the press. That leak was an unequivocal, major national-security felony.

The people you refer to as "presstitutes" are interested in reporting stories like that - true, not so interested as they are in Britney Spears's antics, but still pretty interested. And the Plame-CIA leak was a big story months before Wilson and Plame made the cover of Vanity Fair.

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