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February 05, 2004

VALERIE PLAME UPDATE....Via Josh Marshall, UPI's Richard Sale claims that the FBI has uncovered "hard evidence" of misconduct in the Valerie Plame case by two people in Dick Cheney's office:

According to these sources, John Hannah and Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, were the two Cheney employees. "We believe that Hannah was the major player in this," one federal law-enforcement officer said. Calls to the vice president's office were not returned, nor did Hannah and Libby return calls.

The strategy of the FBI is to make clear to Hannah "that he faces a real possibility of doing jail time" as a way to pressure him to name superiors, one federal law-enforcement official said.

Hannah, by the way, was supposedly one of the major players involved in stovepiping INC intelligence directly to Cheney, bypassing the CIA.

And as for "naming superiors," there's really only one superior to name, isn't there? Cheney's duck-hunting friendship with Antonin Scalia might come in pretty handy if Hannah decides to pull a Fastow and start squealing on his boss....

Posted by Kevin Drum at February 5, 2004 01:02 PM | TrackBack


Comments

Should I be the one to make the obligatory comment about UPI and the Moonies? Ooops, sorry, I forgot, that only applies when the UPI stories are bad for Dems. Now UPI must be fair and balanced.

Posted by: Al at February 5, 2004 01:06 PM | PERMALINK

No worries, Al, this will be splashed across the front page of every newspaper in a few hours. Go fuck yourself, by the way.

Posted by: Old Hat at February 5, 2004 01:11 PM | PERMALINK

This story just presents facts without slant, Al, and we'll soon know from other sources about what's happening. This reminds me of when things started breaking loose with Watergate and Nixon.

Posted by: BayMike at February 5, 2004 01:11 PM | PERMALINK

Say, Al, just curious. Do you spend your day watching RSS feeds in order to make sure you're the first to comment on anything I post here? Seems like a fairly dreary existence.

Posted by: Kevin Drum at February 5, 2004 01:12 PM | PERMALINK

Al, as Kos said when he grabbed the story, "why do I have to go to the wingnut press for this story?"

Just because I (or we, I guess) don't like UPI, Washington Times and other Moonie publications doesn't mean that every reporter working there is bad, nor that they always run bogus stories.

"Fair and balanced" cannot be judged on one story alone; it especially cannot be judged without knowing context of story or placement.

Posted by: John Y. at February 5, 2004 01:12 PM | PERMALINK

This is the second post in as many days in which Kevin refers to "Anton [sic] Scalia." His name is actually Antonin. If you want to pretend that you are on familiar terms with him, you should know that his friends call him "Nino." But definitely not "Anton."

Posted by: Stuart Buck at February 5, 2004 01:13 PM | PERMALINK

In Hannah's case, there are two superiors to name, Libby and Cheney. Potentially more if it goes beyond the VP's office. But it sounds to me like, if true, they are focussing on Hannah and Libby, and leaning on Hannah to firm up the case against Libby (and, of course, take anything else they can get at the same time), and then will twist the screws on Libby and see if he'd rather go down hard alone, or go down a little softer and take some friends with him.

Posted by: cmdicely at February 5, 2004 01:13 PM | PERMALINK

there's really only one superior to name, isn't there?

There's one other smug sombitch that he could name: Novak.

Posted by: poputonian at February 5, 2004 01:15 PM | PERMALINK
Should I be the one to make the obligatory comment about UPI and the Moonies? Ooops, sorry, I forgot, that only applies when the UPI stories are bad for Dems. Now UPI must be fair and balanced.

A source with an institutional bias is more credible than otherwise when it reports things which conflict with its institutional bias.

For example, if the DNC chair says the republican nominee for an office is a criminal, one might dismiss that as partisan rhetoric explained by his political position. But unless you have some evidence of particular unusual bias that affects the case at hand, you wouldn't say the same if he said that about the Democratic candidate in a race.

Posted by: cmdicely at February 5, 2004 01:16 PM | PERMALINK

Nice try Al.

Posted by: JakeV at February 5, 2004 01:17 PM | PERMALINK

Al, I can tell that "personal responsibility" is a divine, immutable natural law for you. Stiil, perhaps you'd like to offfer up a democratic example similar to Denny Hastert threatening the Farrmers of Kentucky that thier livelihood is n the line if they don't vote for :

Hastert yesterday challenged that argument, saying that if Chandler disagrees with his party's leadership too often, he risks losing positions on committees or support for bills."You don't get a chance to be independent. You're isolated," he said.
Harmonize and balance that one for me, O' man of principle.

Posted by: fouro at February 5, 2004 01:18 PM | PERMALINK

I don't care if it's true or not, it's been a depressing week and just the thought cheers me up. Thanks UPI!

Posted by: Spork at February 5, 2004 01:19 PM | PERMALINK

I beat my typo record. sorrr$ry.

%^IKN

Posted by: fouro at February 5, 2004 01:20 PM | PERMALINK

Jeezus Al, I hope your job search pays off soon so you can get to work and stop waiting by the keyboard to instantly jump on Kevin's posts.

If you get as excited as your postings indicate, they will eventually kick you out of the library.

Posted by: Buck Fuffalo at February 5, 2004 01:22 PM | PERMALINK

Pressure from GOP base over this investigation forces Cheney to fall on his sword and he resigns for "health" reasons, then Dubya gets to appoint Gulliani to VP before the election. Might be why this was first reported in wingnut paper.

Posted by: quanex98 at February 5, 2004 01:25 PM | PERMALINK

Al's the biggest l4m3r in the blogosphere. Probably because he gets pwn3dz0r3d every day by CalPundit on the political tip.

Posted by: Old Hat at February 5, 2004 01:26 PM | PERMALINK

Giuliani would be poison to Bush's base.

Posted by: lefty skeptic at February 5, 2004 01:27 PM | PERMALINK

Assuming Bush loses the election, I'm sure Cheney will be on his list of preemptive pardons, a la Bush I and Weinberger, et al.

Posted by: Joe Bob at February 5, 2004 01:30 PM | PERMALINK

LS - Right you are. An adulterous cross-dressing Manhattanite wouldn't go over to well in the red states.

Posted by: Joe Bob at February 5, 2004 01:31 PM | PERMALINK

"Wilson was sent by the Bush administration in March 2002 to check on an allegation made by President George W. Bush in his State of the Union address *the previous winter* that Iraq had sought to buy uranium from the nation of Niger."

...am I wrong, or didn't Bush make the allegation in the 2003 SOTU, *after* Wilson's mission? A pretty important detail.

Posted by: Abe at February 5, 2004 01:33 PM | PERMALINK

Guilliani? Sounds French.

Posted by: Old Hat at February 5, 2004 01:33 PM | PERMALINK

"Dubya gets to appoint Gulliani to VP before the election"

Yeah, Dubya's going to appoint as VP a guy who used to live with a gay couple, at the same time Dubya is saying that he'd support an amendment preventing gay marriage.

Posted by: Jon H at February 5, 2004 01:35 PM | PERMALINK

Please, please let this story break wide open!

Posted by: Steve at February 5, 2004 01:36 PM | PERMALINK

More logical than GWB supporting the same Amendment while his current VP's daughter is a lesbian.

Posted by: Charlie at February 5, 2004 01:39 PM | PERMALINK

Giuliani rhymes with Giovanni, not Jean.

Well, ok, it rhymes with Sistani too. By the way, he just survived an assassination attempt, probably bigger news than this. We just came close to a cartload of chaos.

Posted by: rilkefan at February 5, 2004 01:40 PM | PERMALINK

Seems these guys have a lot to answer for, from an article last fall:

"Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction; there is no doubt that he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies and against us," Cheney said in August 2002, when others were advocating more U.N. weapons inspections.

Since the war ended, no conclusive evidence has emerged that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction.

Both administration officials said members of Cheney's staff, including chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby and John Hannah, the deputy assistant for national security affairs, had worked closely with aides to Rumsfeld to promote the ideas that Iraq had hidden chemical and biological weapons, maintained ties to al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations, and posed an immediate danger to the United States and its allies.

Intelligence analysts and regional experts in the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the State Department and the uniformed military disputed all three notions, but their views "were dismissed out-of-hand by Cheney and by the people around Rumsfeld," one intelligence official said.

Posted by: john at February 5, 2004 01:40 PM | PERMALINK

Nah Not Giuliani. The ultimate VP weapon this year is Condi Rice. We could then all go home.

The likely weapon, and I consider it likely, is the boring Tom Ridge. This will get Bush Pennsylvania, and help elsewhere.

Posted by: bob mcmanus at February 5, 2004 01:41 PM | PERMALINK

Won't it be difficult to prove intent to expose and undercover CIA officer in this case? Couldn't the perps say they were simply trying to shame Wilson by indicating that his wife is calling the shots for him? Wasn't that the context of Novak's article? This would still be a crime, but not as serious.

Posted by: Steve at February 5, 2004 01:43 PM | PERMALINK

"Giuliani would be poison to Bush's base."

Yes, but he may well be "good, moderate 9/11 hero guy" to 'moderates' and 'swing voters', groups the GOP really needs to attract this time around.

Also, never forget that the right-wing base is very good at accepting token moderates in a pure PR position if it means getting (or holding onto) power.

Remember, they didn't like Cheney either...he was, at the time, portrayed as a moderate who loved his live gay daughter.

Posted by: Eric at February 5, 2004 01:44 PM | PERMALINK


Giuliani might make a good replacement for Ashcroft, if he has the qualifications.

Condi would be the best VP option, but knowing Bush what they'd do is say, prior to the election, that Condi would take Cheney's place, but then after an election win renege.

Posted by: Jon H at February 5, 2004 01:46 PM | PERMALINK

You guys are forgetting the most obvious VP choice, who could deliver a lot of the right kind of momentum to Bush---Joe Lieberman!!
By the way, don't you think that the real reason many Republicans wanted Lieberman as the Dem candidate was that they wanted to vote for him?
I think that many REpublicans are looking for a way to get rid of Bush, and Lieberman would be a palatable choice.

Posted by: marky at February 5, 2004 01:51 PM | PERMALINK

Say, Al, just curious. Do you spend your day watching RSS feeds in order to make sure you're the first to comment on anything I post here? Seems like a fairly dreary existence.

No, Kevin. I'm bored at work and your site is interesting. In fact, I don't think I've ever had the first comment before. In any case, if you don't want me to post, let me know, and I'll stop.

Note, BTW, that I DIDN'T say anything defending the leak or Hannah/Libby. If they leaked it, put them on trial, as far as I'm concerned.

Posted by: Al at February 5, 2004 01:59 PM | PERMALINK

If Lieberman could bring Bush the same Joementum his own campaign had, I'd be all for it.

Seriously, though, if Cheney drops out, then the VP choice will be governed by two things:

1. What does he/she bring to the table for this election?

2. How does he/she look as a presidential candidate/heir to the thron in 2008?

I think Giulliani is a bit questionable in both. Ridge might help in PA for 1, but is hardly a compelling choice for 2. Condi Rice might be a nice fit for both, although I'm not completely convinced on either count.

Any charismatic, fairly conservative republicans from swing states that don't have Democratic governors? How about JC Watts?

Posted by: Doug Turnbull at February 5, 2004 02:02 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, the same familiar pattern begins to emerge: flawed conservative character gains power(is elected), abuses power, gets busted, and has to hope for a pardon. See: Nixon, Reagan. Cheney should just say that he cannot remember(worked for Reagan).

Posted by: MRB at February 5, 2004 02:02 PM | PERMALINK

How about JC Watts?

Wingers think black people bear the mark of Cain. Didn't JC Watts have some extramarital affairs or something a while back?

Posted by: Old Hat at February 5, 2004 02:06 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't Ridge pro-choice? Being head of DHS is OK, but a heartbeat away might not wash with the fundies.

Posted by: alias at February 5, 2004 02:08 PM | PERMALINK

Abe,

"...am I wrong, or didn't Bush make the allegation in the 2003 SOTU, *after* Wilson's mission? A pretty important detail."

You are not wrong. His op-ed in the New York Times was after the speech (maybe the source of, but no excuse for, the confusion), when he realized, to his amazement, they were still using the bogus claim.

Previous to that, he was the 'unnamed diplomat'.

What I can't believe is how many people have STILL not heard of this!

I called one of my local News Casts (to bitch about their lousy reporting) and the lady that answered, not only had no clue about The Plame Affair, she was also clueless about anything to do with the 2003 SOTU!

Posted by: agave at February 5, 2004 02:09 PM | PERMALINK

"Both administration officials said members of Cheney's staff, including chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby and John Hannah, the deputy assistant for national security affairs, had worked closely with aides to Rumsfeld to promote the ideas that Iraq had hidden chemical and biological weapons, maintained ties to al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations, and posed an immediate danger to the United States and its allies."

Condi would be a horrible choice. Sure, she's a liar and a toady, but she doesn't possess the skillset to pull off lies with the likes of this crew.

Further, the comment above makes note of who worked and did what for Cheney. Scooter and Hannah found out who Plame was and what she did at the CIA. It is doubtful that these cretins knew that firsthand...so who did give them that info...Cheney, Rice, Rummy?

Posted by: jdw at February 5, 2004 02:09 PM | PERMALINK

agave writes: "His op-ed in the New York Times was after the speech"

LONG after the speech. After "major combat operations" in Iraq, too.

Posted by: Jon H at February 5, 2004 02:15 PM | PERMALINK

If you want a good Republican for VP, how about Grassley? He's got a great reputation on both sides of the aisle, from what i've read.

Posted by: marky at February 5, 2004 02:16 PM | PERMALINK

I for one would prefer to have two parties with some degree of integrity, in policy and operations, than one good and one bad.
I hope the GOP puts its house in order.
Unfortunately, they may not be able to restore the party to a reasonable position without alienating the religious conservatives.
It's just impossible to have an intelligent discussion with people who believe that the Flintstones represents historical truth (dinosaurs and humans on the planet at the same time)

Posted by: marky at February 5, 2004 02:19 PM | PERMALINK

$475,000 !!!
Check the cash pouring into the Dean campaign!
$475K raised in less than 12 hours !!! Dean will be over $1M by tonight. And the media pundits want him to quit... no chance.

http://www.blogforamerica.com/
--

Dean has this to say:
"If all you want to do is change Presidents, vote for another candidate. If you want FUNDAMENTAL CHANGE in this country, vote for Dean"

Dean has my vote. Dean needs your vote.

Posted by: Jay R. - Oregon at February 5, 2004 02:20 PM | PERMALINK
Won't it be difficult to prove intent to expose and undercover CIA officer in this case? Couldn't the perps say they were simply trying to shame Wilson by indicating that his wife is calling the shots for him? Wasn't that the context of Novak's article? This would still be a crime, but not as serious.

"When revealing national security secrets for political purposes, we engaged in a slightly less serious crimes than we are being charged with."

That's an impressive defense that will really stop any political blowback.

Posted by: cmdicely at February 5, 2004 02:24 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, be glad no Plame Nipple was exposed, or the masses would be storming the gates. Exposing spies is good, exposing nipples is a threat to all we hold dear!

Posted by: Gatchaman at February 5, 2004 02:27 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicley,

I'm sure they could attempt to use that defense to avoid certain criminal charges, but it's too late to avoid political blowback.

The intent was to discredit Wilson by suggesting that he was incompetent, and therefore did not find evidence of the Iraq yellowcake purchase when, according to BushCo, such a purchase has indeed occured.

Shorter version:

Old story: CIA says there is no Iraq nuke program, BushCo says there is.

New story: CIA exaggerated the threat, BushCo was duped.

Saying Wilson was incompetent doesn't fit the new storyline.

Posted by: Sovok at February 5, 2004 02:35 PM | PERMALINK

The only bad thing about this story is that I don't see Rove's name mentioned. And I can't believe that anything like this happened without his knowledge. Maybe that's the big fish they want Hannah to give up. I know it would work for me!!!

As for VP, if they put Condi on the ticket I'll vomit. Not that it matters. Bushco is going down.

Posted by: four legs good at February 5, 2004 02:36 PM | PERMALINK

If you want a good Republican for VP, how about Grassley?

Yeah but he's not pretty enough, and even worse, he thinks in practical instead of ideological terms, he hasn't drank enough kool-aid to fit in with this crew. Oh and he has butted heads with the good ol' military industrial complex. He is about as Anti-Cheney as anyone can be and still be Republican.

Never happen.

Posted by: Another Bruce at February 5, 2004 02:37 PM | PERMALINK

Wow. Jay R. from Oregon needs to cut down on the coffee. Dean spam looks just like the porn and viagra comment spam on my site. Not a great way to convince people.

Posted by: Scott at February 5, 2004 02:37 PM | PERMALINK

It's curious that the major print media (NYT, WP, LAT) and Drudge have not picked up on the UPI story. Either the print folks are carefully working up a story for tomorrow's front pages or it's a bogus report.

Posted by: kimster at February 5, 2004 02:41 PM | PERMALINK

More logical than GWB supporting the same Amendment while his current VP's daughter is a lesbian.

I have this hope that Mary Cheney moves to Massachusetts and gets married. Once the whole gay-marriage thing takes effect, that is.

Wouldn't it be nice if Daddy and his boss could be there, too?

Posted by: Californian at February 5, 2004 02:51 PM | PERMALINK

Won't it be difficult to prove intent to expose and undercover CIA officer in this case? Couldn't the perps say they were simply trying to shame Wilson by indicating that his wife is calling the shots for him? Wasn't that the context of Novak's article? This would still be a crime, but not as serious.

This has been discussed at length. The statutory language defines the offense as outing an undercover agent, without mentioning the purpose. There is a possible loophole in case the leaker didn't know the agent was covert. But someone in a responsible high-level position should know enough about the real world to check it out before revealing her identity, so this legal defense may not work. And aside from the legal point, it looks terrible.

Posted by: Roger Bigod at February 5, 2004 03:00 PM | PERMALINK

Al, don't ever leave us.

Posted by: Keith G at February 5, 2004 03:01 PM | PERMALINK

A lot of you partisans need to chill on the attacks on 'the right' on this issue. You probably have reasons for attacking Al, but he sounds a lot like a whole hell of a lot of people on the right that want this answered too.

I know a lot of you just want to 'get Bush' but a lot of people that flow from the center to the right want this to come out and heads to roll no matter how high the head. National security isn't something that people on the right take kindly too.

Partisan republicans on the other hand may feel differently.

Posted by: Brian S at February 5, 2004 03:03 PM | PERMALINK

Is it just me, or do any others agree that the overall quality of the comment threads here at Calpundit has been declining lately? This thread is about a major break in the Plame Affair ... yet most of the postings above are utterly OT, and quite a few of them just plain dumb.

[E.g., the suggestion that Lieberman would make a great Republican VP. Look, the guy grates on my nerves too. He's insufferable in a number of ways. But his actual Senate voting record was not that bad. Seems like I recently read that in some key areas it was in Kerry territory ... and arguably MORE liberal than Dean on some key matters. Not an argument for Lieberman for President -- yech! -- but it's just plain dimwitted to be calling him, even in jest, a Republican].

Now, let's talk about the Plame Affair a little:

(1) I heartily concur with the poster above who mentioned the power of the pardon. I'll bet dollars for doughnuts that we'll be seeing it used soon after the November election. Possibly it'll be a sweeping thing: a pre-emptive pardon covering about anything its recipient might have done while in office.

I'm just about ready to start arguing for a Constitutional change in the way the power of the pardon can be applied (e.g., barring its application to top Administration officials altogether vis-a-vis their official duties within a certain number of years of their service).

Were I the new Democratic president next January, I might be inclined -- depending on who Shrub pardons and why -- to run the risk of a minor Constitutional crisis rather than allow a bunch of rightwing scum to get away with egregious abuses of power. That is, I might be inclined to just announce that my Administration is simply not going to recognize that the use of the pardon by Bush as legitimate. But then, that's just me ... and I don't have the entire Constitutional system sitting on my shoulders right now.

(2) Am I the only one who finds it just a tiny bit disconcerting that the FBI is leaking information of this kind to the press (mainstream or rightwing, either one) -- information involving not just who they suspect of a crime, but their actual strategy of using one to pressure others? Perhaps the lawyers among us can speak up about this: in setting up these two Cheney cheeseballs to be tried in the press, are they also setting them up with various grounds for appeal, or other clever ways to avoid effective prosecution?

I mean, without being too paranoid about it, is it possible the Administration has a hidden agenda of one sort of another in leaking this? It's just very strange that in an Administration that's perhaps the tightest-lipped in history, something like this pops out.

(And, in answer to Al's comment about UPI: who the hell do you think has all the best contacts with this Administration anyhow? This all started with them using a "reliable" shill (Robert Novak) in the first place, and I would assume they have a comparably comfortable relationship with UPI and the Moonies.)

-- Roger


Posted by: Marsman at February 5, 2004 03:11 PM | PERMALINK

Re disconcerting FBI leaks....Remember the "person of interest" leaks that the FBI used to harrass the PhD. who was the focus of the anthrax probe. Mueller's boys seem to like to see their suspects swinging in the media wind.

Posted by: Keith G at February 5, 2004 03:23 PM | PERMALINK

Oops, I think I should have been clearer about something: I was specifically referring to the use of the Power of the Pardon vis-a-vis the Plame Affair. This is, so far, the only issue involving the Bush Administration that's gotten to the level of actual criminal investigation and (hopefully) real indictments.

But without specifying my focus there, my comments could be taken as general ones and hence about as OT as any of the others on the thread. After all, once Bush is defeated he'll know that the moment the Democrats get back in power they're going to be digging up all the bodies ... and he might be inclined to rain pardons right and left on his buddies as he leaves, even on those not yet suspected of anything.

-- Roger

Posted by: Marsman at February 5, 2004 03:23 PM | PERMALINK

I'm pretty sure that Cheney has two airtight tactics in response to possible accusations against him:

(1) My subterranean bunker didn't have a phone line installed at the time; or

(2) What's that? A stealth bomber just dropped a bunker buster on Hannah's house?

Posted by: norbizness at February 5, 2004 03:25 PM | PERMALINK

National security isn't something that people on the right take kindly too.

Ain't that the truth.

Posted by: Disinterested Observer at February 5, 2004 03:36 PM | PERMALINK
I'm just about ready to start arguing for a Constitutional change in the way the power of the pardon can be applied (e.g., barring its application to top Administration officials altogether vis-a-vis their official duties within a certain number of years of their service).

Personally, I'd just go for pushing Congress to remember that the impeachment power applies to all federal officers, and that the pardon does not extend to cases of impeachment.

If there was going to be Constitutional reform, I might allow the Senate on conviction of impeachment to, in addition to removal from office and the permanent bar on holding future offices under the United States, remove the protection of a pardon issued to the convicted official.

Posted by: cmdicely at February 5, 2004 03:43 PM | PERMALINK
I mean, without being too paranoid about it, is it possible the Administration has a hidden agenda of one sort of another in leaking this? It's just very strange that in an Administration that's perhaps the tightest-lipped in history, something like this pops out.

The "Administration", as such, doesn't seem to be the source of the leak. With Ashcroft's recusal, the investigation is with career justice/FBI types more than political appointees you'd usually describe as "the administration".

Posted by: cmdicely at February 5, 2004 03:46 PM | PERMALINK
I for one would prefer to have two parties with some degree of integrity, in policy and operations, than one good and one bad. I hope the GOP puts its house in order.

This may shock some people Marky, but I'm in agreement with you. Frankly I would like to see proportional party representation, in Congress at least.

That way the extremes and centers of both parties could split and still have a voice in the governance of the country.

I'm thinking that that would leave us with four parties, but four are better than the current incompetent and corrupt two.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus at February 5, 2004 04:00 PM | PERMALINK

National security isn't something that people on the right take kindly too.

I used to believe that, I'll be happy when I start seeing some high level right wingers start calling for heads instead of being apologists on the Plame affair. Mostly I've heard "hey, no big deal" or "she wasn't really an operative" or other excuses. You obviously have some intellectual honesty on the subject. If a democrat had done this, believe me, I'd be screaming just as loudly.

On this issue of FBI leaks, this may be a way too force justice's hand. They have dragged their feet at every step of the investigation- the FBI and the CIA may be forcing them to actually file an indictment and not sweep it under the rug.

I hope. Hope always springs eternal. Let's hope Hannah sings like a big old birdie too while we're at it. ;-)

Posted by: four legs good at February 5, 2004 04:08 PM | PERMALINK

Roger Bigod writes: "There is a possible loophole in case the leaker didn't know the agent was covert. But someone in a responsible high-level position should know enough about the real world to check it out before revealing her identity, so this legal defense may not work. And aside from the legal point, it looks terrible."

There's always the sexism excuse: "I saw this woman at the CIA, and I just assumed she was a desk jockey, not a covert operative. Cause, like, that's a man's job."

Posted by: Jon H at February 5, 2004 04:17 PM | PERMALINK


Regarding this leak about Scooter and Hannah, it may be an attempt to increase pressure on others who might be under scrutiny, without actually meeting with them personally and talking to them directly.

Posted by: Jon H at February 5, 2004 04:19 PM | PERMALINK

"I mean, without being too paranoid about it, is it possible the Administration has a hidden agenda of one sort of another in leaking this? It's just very strange that in an Administration that's perhaps the tightest-lipped in history, something like this pops out. "

They've had a lot of big leaks too. Playing politics with the intelligence community will do that to you. They do know how to play hardball.

Mike Switzer

Posted by: Mike Switzer at February 5, 2004 04:23 PM | PERMALINK

Marsman, it's a fact that many republicans like Lieberman, and presumably would vote for him.

Posted by: Marky at February 5, 2004 04:46 PM | PERMALINK

excellent articles on the CIA leak probe

Bush's Worst Enemy
http://truthout.org/docs_03/123003A.shtml

Ashcroft Recuses Self From CIA Leak Probe
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=stor...t_pe/cia_leak_5

Here's one in particular that I think hits the mark...

Ques to Gore Vidal: You saw in the '60s how the Johnson administration collapsed under the weight of its own hubris. Likewise with Nixon. And now with the discontent over how the war in Iraq is playing out, don't you get the impression that Bush is headed for the same fate?

His answer: I actually see something smaller tripping him up: this business over outing the wife of Ambassador Wilson as a CIA agent. It's often these small things that get you. Something small enough for a court to get its teeth into. Putting this woman at risk because of anger over what her husband has done is bitchy, dangerous to the nation, dangerous to other CIA agents. This resonates more than Iraq.

Why Did Attorney General Ashcroft Remove Himself From The Valerie Plame Wilson Leak Investigation?
Signs that a Key Witness May Have Come Forward
http://writ.news.findlaw.com/dean/20040106.html
By JOHN W. DEAN
Jan 6, 2004

First, look at the author of this article. I'd say pretty credible unlike many pretender journalists where investigative reporting is anathema.

If There Is a Knowledgeable Witness, What Next?

If there is a witness willing to testify against one -- or both -- of the leakers in exchange for immunity, what then? It seems likely that Fitzgerald will move very quickly to find out if there is indeed a case to be made against the leakers. To bolster his case, he may call Novak and others to the grand jury or, as noted above, subpoena Novak's (and others') phone records over the relevant period. Even Ashcroft himself could in theory be called to the grand jury.

If this case does not make headlines in 90 to 120 days, it will be quite surprising. There has been too much high level action and Comey, a presidential appointee, knows that politically it would be better for Bush & Company to have the matter flushed out within the next few months, than to have it arise just before the November election. Needless to say, this could be an interesting year for the White House, with more than reelection to worry about.

Posted by: slam at February 5, 2004 05:00 PM | PERMALINK

Stuart B: Nah, Nino and I don't hang out in the same places.

All fixed now.

Posted by: Kevin Drum at February 5, 2004 05:13 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone know why the Insight article has a published date listed for 2/17/04?

Posted by: j Swift at February 5, 2004 06:03 PM | PERMALINK

Another glitch.

Posted by: SysAdmin at February 5, 2004 06:19 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin refers to "Anton [sic] Scalia." His name is actually Antonin. If you want to pretend that you are on familiar terms with him, you should know that his friends call him "Nino."

Or Fat Tony, as he's known among The Supremos.

Posted by: Jimmy at February 5, 2004 06:21 PM | PERMALINK

I GUARANTEE you Cheney will not be dropped from the ticket. Bush's first principle is loyalty. If Cheney really fucks things then Bush will go down with him. Loyalty cuts both ways and this time it will hurt Bush. Another problem with dropping Cheney is it would be an almost-explicit admission of criminal misdeeds very very high up in the Administration. Bush would get tainted by Cheney leaving too. Bush NEVER admits faults and forcing Cheney to quit would be admitting a huge fault. I don't care who could replace him, if Cheney left the ticket at this stage Bush will lose 40 states.

Posted by: Elrod at February 5, 2004 06:27 PM | PERMALINK

Elrod -- I generslly agree except there is one circumstance that gives W "plausible deniability" about any wrongdoing:

Cheney leaves because of "health" reasons.

I know, I know it is pretty flimsy to a rational person but it has just enough weight for a rather large voting bloc who will support W come mud, blood, shit or flood.

Posted by: longshot at February 5, 2004 07:03 PM | PERMALINK

"Playing politics with the intelligence community will do that to you. They do know how to play hardball."

As a retired member of that community, I can attest to the veracity of this comment. Realistically, intel folks aren't purists and they don't give much of a shit about most leaks (predictable and expected when the consumers are politicians). However, there are lines that outsiders cross only at their peril. "Outing" a clandestine operative, i.e., family, would constitute one such line.

Also, as someone who's had close and continuous contacts with the FBI for the past 30 years, I know there are a lot of good folks in the bureau. A lot who really fit the idyllic description of "public servant," and who don't really like to see their good works buried. There definitely is an agenda here.

Administrations come and go.

Posted by: spook at February 5, 2004 07:05 PM | PERMALINK

It's too late for Cheney to leave for "health" or "family" reasons.

Posted by: Elrod at February 5, 2004 11:48 PM | PERMALINK

I thought the question was: If Cheney leaves, who will be the new president?

Posted by: McDruid at February 6, 2004 01:05 AM | PERMALINK

Cheney will have a "heart attack" a couple of weeks before the convention and will be replaced by Giuliani.

So you can just eat shit.

Posted by: Right-Wing Vegetarian at February 6, 2004 01:32 AM | PERMALINK

If only we could go back to the "good old days" when our nuclear secrets were being sold to China in exchange for campaign cash at Buddhist temples.

Or when people were being blackmailed left and right with their confidential FBI files.

The hypocrisy and holier-than-thou attitude in this joint just reeks.

Posted by: Right-Wing Vegetarian at February 6, 2004 01:38 AM | PERMALINK

If only we could go back to the "good old days" when our nuclear secrets were being sold to China in exchange for campaign cash at Buddhist temples.

Bit difficult, since that infamous canard was just another right-wing fantasy.

Posted by: Jesurgislac at February 6, 2004 01:51 AM | PERMALINK

No, it was a nightmare inflicted on us by Clintoon.

It was all a part of the politics of "now". Clinton only cared about his poll numbers in the present. He didn't think about the future..

The "wonderful economy" based on obscenely overvalued dotcom stocks. The stock market collapsed on his watch, and we're just now picking up the pieces.

September 11th - Clinton more worried about getting his cock sucked than attending to the business of the state. He could have taken bin Laden out in 1998. Why didn't he?

Posted by: Right-Wing Vegetarian at February 6, 2004 02:06 AM | PERMALINK

No, it was a nightmare inflicted on us by Clinton.

What, you're claiming that Clinton made the Republicans invent these stupid libels/slanders such as "our nuclear secrets were being sold to China in exchange for campaign cash"? It's all Clinton's fault that the Republicans had to make stuff like that up!

Because Republican presidents produce such stuff that no one has to make anything up: AWOL, insider trading, the Plame Affair... and it's not fair that Republicans have to invent stuff about Clinton?

Nice bit of doublethink, RWV!

Posted by: Jesurgislac at February 6, 2004 05:30 AM | PERMALINK

Cheney will have a "heart attack" a couple of weeks before the convention and will be replaced by Giuliani.

Isn't it pretty to think so?

Posted by: Paul at February 6, 2004 06:52 AM | PERMALINK

Right-wing vegetarian - nice to see that you don't pretend that you're a conservative.

The "wonderful" economy was wonderful, and only a completely ill-informed Clinton hater, living in a fantasy world, would think that overvalued dot-com stocks were anything but a tiny aspect of the economy. (A well-informed right-winger would at least point to the overbuilding in the telecom sector as a much bigger issue, but as i say, we can tell that you don't know much of anything.)

The shibboleth that it was easy for Clinton to take bin laden out in 1998 is just that: a shibboleth. It turns out, for instance, that Clinton took out what remained of Saddam's chemical weapon productions capability in '98 (at least according to David Kay), for which he was roundly excoriated by people like you, who were so obsessed with clinton-hatred that you literally couldn't think straight.

Did Clinton devote enough attention to terrorism? No, he most certainly did not. But neither did Bush, nor Reagan, nor the current Bush until 9/11.

In fact, of course, the current Bush backslid from where Clinton was at: his issue was rogue state missile defense.

But i assume you didn't know that either.

Posted by: howard at February 6, 2004 09:55 AM | PERMALINK

David Kay did not say that Clinton took out Saddam's weapons in 1998. Even Slick himself said last October that he thought there were WMDs in Iraq at the time he left office.

You claim that the economy wasn't propped up by the stock market bubble, yet the recession had its beginnings at the exact same time the stock market bubble burst in the spring of 2000. September 11th then made things even worse. Call it the Clinton-Bin Laden recession.

Posted by: Right-Wing Vegetarian at February 6, 2004 06:16 PM | PERMALINK

But, But.

Instapundit declared this "bogus" weeks ago.

It should be so moved past by now.

Posted by: Stirling Newberry at February 7, 2004 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

The apologists say that "everyone inside the beltway knew" what sort of operative Plame was, so it wasn't such a big deal. But who has actually scouted this out? I suspect it's phony, but I'd like to hear from people who know. (The CIA people aren't happy about it in any case.)

2. The silly blow-off by Instapundit and radio hacks, et al, that the Plame business is "bogus" because Ms. Plame sported around in Vanity Fair, etc. I have news: however oddly a target of some crap behaves, it was still wrong to do it to them.

Please, please check out http://blog.light-of-reason.com and the biting commentary on this and like events today. Agree or not, here's the "irony" of a honest libertarian type who's fed up more than most liberals (certainly, more than the "liberal press."

Posted by: Neil at February 7, 2004 05:28 PM | PERMALINK

Drudgereport headlines now headlining about Plame investigation:

Prosecutors conduct series of meetings described as 'tense, combative'... Armed with handwritten White House notes, detailed cell phone logs, e-mails between presidential aides and reporters, prosecutors demand explanations of conversations... Developing...

Posted by: Neil at February 9, 2004 07:01 PM | PERMALINK

That diabolical Clinton, dropping a time-release recession on the country so that poor George Bush would be blamed for conditions existing four years after his departure from the White House. Similarly, he ignored an easily plugged bin Laden, then arranged for bin Laden to be impossible to find from 1/20/01 forward.

Poor Bush and the Republicans are victims, I tells ya. Victims. And to hammer that point home, Bush will accept his nomination on Ground Zero, allowing Frist to give his acceptance speech at the Pentagon, after Cheney gives his health-related withdrawal speech in a field in Pennsylvania.

Patriots all. And victims of Democrat duplicity.

Posted by: hueyplong at March 8, 2004 05:52 PM | PERMALINK

Cheney leaves because of "health" reasons.
I know, I know it is pretty flimsy to a rational person but it has just enough weight for a rather large voting bloc who will support W come mud, blood, shit or flood.

That's the 30something percent the Dems have no hope of convincing anyway, so, so what?

But isn't the real reason for keeping Cheney "dynastic," i.e., so the way will be clear for Jeb to run in 2008?

Posted by: Brendan McDaid at March 8, 2004 06:14 PM | PERMALINK
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