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August 30, 2006

Plaming The President: The Anatomy Of A Lie

“The broad mass of the nation ... will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one."

- Adolph Hitler

It's been a long wait. For a moment there was a sense of unreality. Was I really reading these words in a major American newspaper?

Armitage's involvement in the matter does not fit neatly into the assertions of Bush administration critics that Plame's employment was disclosed as part of a White House conspiracy to besmirch Wilson by suggesting his Niger trip stemmed from nepotism at the CIA. Wilson and Plame have sued top administration officials, alleging that the leak was meant as retaliation.

But Armitage, the source Novak had described obliquely as someone who is "not a political gunslinger," was by all accounts hardly a tool of White House political operatives. As the No. 2 official at the State Department from March 2001 to February 2005, Armitage was a prominent Republican appointee. But he also privately disagreed with the tone and style of White House policymaking on Iraq and other matters.

It's tempting to feel a sense of vindication; to think perhaps the long nightmare might be over. Maybe now the slumbering curiosity of those who eagerly swallowed a carefully edited version of events will awaken.

Maybe now they will finally begin to ask questions.

Maybe now that it is obvious many journalists knew far, far more about this story than the pittance they saw fit to tell us, (though they are furiously back-pedalling as I type these words) the reading public might wake up and ask whatever happened to transparency, to the public's right to know?

Or is accountability only for government figures? Is the media's role as the 'fourth branch of government' just a convenient fiction, adopted when the status it implies suits them but quickly doffed as soon as any concommittant responsibility is demanded of them? How long will the press continue to wield the First Amendment like a virtual get out of jail free card, using it to exempt them from prosecution when they break laws other professionals must obey, to tip off terrorism suspects, to assert non-existent federal shield laws, to demand the right to unilaterally declassify and publish national secrets at will? If, as Bill Keller asserts, an unchecked unitary executive is to be feared, is not an unelected, unappointed, and ultimately unaccountable unitary editor even more of a menace? Who watches the watchers?

One can't help but wonder in the aftermath of Plame whether we'll see the media, the CIA, the State Department, or Joe Wilson subjected to the kind of full bodied, La Brea tar pit wallowing-in-schadenfreude navel gazing we've come to expect from the lamestream media. On a careful ninety seconds of caffeine induced rumination, we're inclined to think not. The odds are a few honest voices will chime in before the inevitable spin begins. Chris Hitchens led the chorus yesterday:

In his July 12 column in the Washington Post, Robert Novak had already partly exposed this paranoid myth by stating plainly that nobody had leaked anything, or outed anyone, to him. On the contrary, it was he who approached sources within the administration and the CIA and not the other way around. But now we have the final word on who did disclose the name and occupation of Valerie Plame, and it turns out to be someone whose opposition to the Bush policy in Iraq has—like Robert Novak's—long been a byword in Washington. It is particularly satisfying that this admission comes from two of the journalists—Michael Isikoff and David Corn—who did the most to get the story wrong in the first place and the most to keep it going long beyond the span of its natural life.

As most of us have long suspected, the man who told Novak about Valerie Plame was Richard Armitage, Colin Powell's deputy at the State Department and, with his boss, an assiduous underminer of the president's war policy. (His and Powell's—and George Tenet's—fingerprints are all over Bob Woodward's "insider" accounts of post-9/11 policy planning, which helps clear up another nonmystery: Woodward's revelation several months ago that he had known all along about the Wilson-Plame connection and considered it to be no big deal.) The Isikoff-Corn book, which is amusingly titled Hubris, solves this impossible problem of its authors' original "theory" by restating it in a passive voice:

The disclosures about Armitage, gleaned from interviews with colleagues, friends and lawyers directly involved in the case, underscore one of the ironies of the Plame investigation: that the initial leak, seized on by administration critics as evidence of how far the White House was willing to go to smear an opponent, came from a man who had no apparent intention of harming anyone.

Spin, spin, spin. In the grand tradition of the Big Lie, Corn tells the biggest lie of all - he never really claimed BushCo, et al were out to get Val Plame - instead, this absurd fiction was "seized upon by administration critics", whoever they might be. Except as Hitchens points out, the historical record is rather against him here. Corn, in "the July 16, 2003, blog post credited with starting the entire distraction":

The Wilson smear was a thuggish act. Bush and his crew abused and misused intelligence to make their case for war. Now there is evidence Bushies used classified information and put the nation's counter-proliferation efforts at risk merely to settle a score. It is a sign that with this gang politics trumps national security.

But Corn is hardly the only one who may have lied in this sad affair. There is also the matter of special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald:

Patrick Fitzgerald's three-year manhunt to track down who blew Valerie Plame's CIA "cover" has been exposed as a costly sham. He apparently knew all along that his man was not Scooter Libby.

In the Oct. 28 press conference announcing Libby's indictment, Fitzgerald claimed that "in fact, Mr. Libby was the first official known to have told a reporter when he talked to Judith Miller in June of 2003 about Valerie Wilson."

According to the Newsweek account, Armitage disclosed his role in the Plame case to Justice department officials on October 2, 2003:

The next day, a team of FBI agents and Justice prosecutors investigating the leak questioned the deputy secretary. Armitage acknowledged that he had passed along to Novak information contained in a classified State Department memo: that Wilson's wife worked on weapons-of-mass-destruction issues at the CIA. (The memo made no reference to her undercover status.) Armitage had met with Novak in his State Department office on July 8, 2003—just days before Novak published his first piece identifying Plame. Powell, Armitage and Taft, the only three officials at the State Department who knew the story, never breathed a word of it publicly and Armitage's role remained secret.

It would appear that Fitzgerald, knowing full well that Armitage was the leaker, went on to make, not a false, but perhaps more a misleading statement to the public. This may be splitting hairs, but Mr. Fitzgerald did not claim that Scooter Libby was the first to leak to Robert Novak (a non-leak we now know took place on July 8th and was committed not by Libby but by Richard Armitage), but the first to discuss Ms. Plame with a reporter:

And in fact, we now know that Mr. Libby discussed this information about Valerie Wilson at least four times prior to July 14, 2003: On three occasions with Judith Miller of the New York Times and on one occasion, with Matthew Cooper of Time magazine.

The first occasion on which Mr. Libby discussed it with Judith Miller was back on June 23, 2003, just days after an article appeared on line in the New Republic, which quoted some critical commentary from Mr. Wilson.

After that discussion with Judith Miller on June 23, 2003, Mr. Libby also discussed Valerie Wilson on July 8, 2003. And during that discussion, Mr. Libby talked about Mr. Wilson in a conversation that was on background as a senior administration official, and when Mr. Libby talked about Wilson, he changed the attribution to a former Hill staffer. During that discussion, which was to be attributed to a former Hill staffer, Mr. Libby also discussed Wilson's wife, Valerie Wilson, working at the CIA and finally again on July 12.

The reason Fitzgerald's statement is so egregious, however, is that he was already well aware no crime had been committed. At this point, his office should have reported its findings and the investigation should have been called off. Instead, he chose to jail one reporter for refusing to reveal sources whose identity he already knew and indict a public official for perjury and obstruction in a case where almost every media witness had intentionally witheld evidence from the Justice Department citing non-existent federal shield laws and one witness, Judy Miller, suddenly "remembered" a notebook only after 85 days in jail for refusing to testify and was then mysteriously excused entirely from further testimony, though she had been jailed on the pretext that her testimony was "essential to the government's case". That the prosecutorial standards seem to have been somewhat unevenly applied is an understatement.

The third prevaricator in this unholy triumvirate is Joe Wilson, and today's New York Times continues to give him a pass, adopting a curiously hands-off tone now that the facts no longer support their two year long campaign against the White House:

Some administration critics said her name had been made public in a campaign to punish Mr. Wilson, who had written in a commentary in The Times that his investigation in Africa [?] him to believe that the Bush administration had twisted intelligence to justify an attack on Iraq.

As has been the Times' long practice, there is nary a mention of the Butler Report, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Report, or the Robb-Silverman Report. Again, in the grand tradition of The Big Lie the meme that the Bush administration has blocked any investigation into whether prewar intelligence was manipulated is allowed to fester unchecked, never countered by inconvenient facts which might counter the spin. The American Thinker painstakingly contrasts each of Wilson's "Bush lied" accusations with specific findings from the SSCI and the British Butler report. I have also done this in the past, but this is one-stop shopping.

How does such a Big Lie get started in a society with a free press? More importantly, why does it take this long for the truth to come out? These are questions that should prompt an honest media to do some serious soul searching. Why do I get the feeling that process will be a long time in coming?

Update: The American Thinker is the go-to source today for PlameGate fare. Ed Lasky is scathing:

Draw your own conclusions from the fact that Armitage’s best friend Colin Powell called Dick Cheney’s supporters (including Scooter Libby, Doug Feith and Paul Wolfowitz) the “Gestapo Office” (quite insulting considering that there is a history of relatives lost in the Holocaust among them).

Factor in that Powell called Doug Feith “a card-carrying member of the Likud Party” and referred to the Likudnicks in the White House controlling policy during his “exit interview with Bush” (see Assassin’s Gate: America in Iraq) – thereby showing his support for anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists.

Don’t forget that Powell is also joined at the hip with Brent Scowcroft – no friend of Israel and an investor in the Saudi-funded Carlyle Group? Consider that Armitage felt it was fine for Libby to undergo undeserved torment during Fitzgerald’s inquisition and that Colin Powell also knew that Armitage was the leaker but kept quiet about his knowledge when interviewed by the Justice two days after Amitage admitted to Powell he was the leaker.

Remember that Powell’s other good friend, and former chief of staff, Larry Wilkerson, sees no problem with teaching his college courses at William and Mary and George Washington University using the Walt/Mearsheimer Israel Lobby Paper – and that many have criticized as being anti-Semitic?

Alert readers will remember Herr Mearsheimer from yesterday's white-knuckled post. I repeat my earlier view that Colin Powell actively and unacceptably undermined his boss (remarkably so, when you consider that of all the jobs he could have been doing, Powell's Cabinet level position was head of the Department of State, a job that has traditionally required its occupant to exercise an unusual degree of guile, tact, and finesse). As the head of the State Department, Powell knew, or should have known, it was his job to ensure that America present a united front and that its representatives abroad strive not to damage the prestige or weaken the negotiating power of the White House during wartime. So ask yourself: how did Colin Powell's actions as the least-travelled Secretary of State in three decades (and one who, several times, criticized the White House from abroad) at a time when this nation desperately needed a vocal global ambassador further those aims?

Because I do not know the answer to that question.

Posted by Cassandra at August 30, 2006 07:05 AM

Comments

I note that there are no shortage of cowards connected with this affair.

Posted by: spd rdr at August 30, 2006 09:53 AM

This whole thing is unbelievable. So sordid, unethical, and in using the levers of government and press to settle a score so much like a novel that I'm still kinda stunned. I thought I was pretty clear-eyed about the sewer that is politics. But I guess not...

Posted by: FbL at August 30, 2006 10:45 AM

Most of the behaviors herein discussed match my low expectations for the named players.

But Armitage, absent an articulate rationale not yet made manifest, reveals himself to be a man of little honor.

Posted by: John of Argghhh! at August 30, 2006 11:12 AM

Libby is still indicted and will still stand trial for obstructing the Special Persecutors' vendetta, and frankly, that's my opinion of the story line out there and how it will play out.

Does any of the half-vast staff at VC and your friendly but demented readers (like me!)really expect a dozen NY Times' Op-eds in the next month discussing how this travishamockery continued for three years? Do we really expect a thousand pundits to take back their words and perform a huge 'mea culpa'?

I think not.

The case against Libby may collapse in court (heh) or he may be aquitted (maybe) but this whole sordid mess has had its desired effect.

Smear Bush, smear Bush, smear Bush.
After all, it may be fake, but many out there believe that it's accurate (Trade Marked by Dan Rather, patent pending).

The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at August 30, 2006 11:18 AM

There was a time when I would have voted for Colin Powell for President, and for once wouldn't have had to hold my nose as I pulled the lever for the lesser of two evils. Whew, dodged that bullet! His willing complicity in this scheme should be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible, which unfortunately is probably "not at all." What a pity.

I wait with bated breath for the emergence of Joe Wilson Lied bumperstickers. I suspect I'll be waiting for a good long time.

Posted by: Daveg at August 30, 2006 12:04 PM

What is worth noting about 'big lie' attempts isn't so much that people will more readily believe them than smaller lies, but that it doesn't matter if they believe it. This is the critical point that people don't understand, but need to know.

What studies of the phenomenon show, consistently, is that people often don't believe the lies. Often, they are fully conscious that the lie is unlikely; and often, they critically view the evidence of the facts, and become aware that (a) the lie is in fact a lie, and (b) the truth is X, which for now they know.

The important part of the phenomenon comes later. Asked a year or more afterwards about the subject of the lie, the studies consistently find that their opinion of the person or institution is badly damaged off of where it was before the lie was told. Even though they had received the lie critically, and found out the truth later, in the long term the harm is done regardless.

The way the human mind works is that it forgets the details, but it remembers that 'something really bad' was attached to that person or institution. They're damaged goods foreverafter, even though you can't remember exactly why you think so -- and if you could remember, the facts would work against the impression.

That's the real function of the technique.

Posted by: Grim at August 30, 2006 02:20 PM

And Grim lives up to his moniker...

Posted by: John of Argghhh! at August 30, 2006 03:18 PM

Grim,
I thought I made that clear with:

"smear Bush, smear Bush, smear Bush"

Whydja hafta use all them pair-o-graphs to repeat that? :D

Daveg,
I think "Joe Wilson is a Horse's Ass" would be a better bumper sticker. :)

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at August 30, 2006 03:32 PM

what armitage said, and when he said it doesn't change a lot.
it doesn't change that libby outed her independently. or that rove did as well. that cheney had notes on an op-ed column directing the attack. it certainly doesn't change the fact that wilson was by and large correct in his findings. it doesn't change the fact that both miller and woodard knew about this and those so-called liberal media outlets held the story to the benefit of the adminisration. and it doesn't change the fact that you all are drinking too way much kool-aid.

Posted by: jay k. at August 30, 2006 04:09 PM

But according to the SSCI, Wilson *wasn't* correct in his findings. Did you bother to click on any of the links?

Of course you didn't, because that would upset your preconceived notions and you might have to think. Since you can't be bothered to read anything, let me sum it up for you:

1. At least the Washington Post occasionally will actually report what your tax dollars (and the CIA reports, incidentally, contain: that Wilson's wife not only recommended him for the post but continued to act in a facilitating role afterwards, contrary to the dishonest and misleading statements he made both to the Senate committee - under oath, I might add - and to the Washington Post. IOW, WILSON LIED, NOT ONCE BUT TWICE, ONCE UNDER OATH. Not generally considered good for the old credibility.

2. Contrary to his public statements (IOW ANOTHER LIE) the CIA considered that his report, CONTRARY TO WHAT HE SAID IN HIS NYTIMES OP ED, CONFIRMED RATHER THAN UNDERMINED THE SUSPICION THAT IRAQ HAD SOUGHT, NOT ACTUALLY BOUGHT, YELLOWCAKE URANIUM FROM NIGER. This is right in the SSCI report. You can look it up - it's all public record information.

3. Furthermore, Wilson has always tried to claim the SOTU 16 words were based on his trip to Niger. But the CIA itself claims they never passed on his report to the White House because it "added nothing to what was already known". In fact, the SOTU words were based on British intel which was subsequently ruled "well founded" at the time by the British Butler report. So this is yet another lie by Wilson, who would have no way of knowing what intelligence had been passed to Bush, or what he based those 16 words on unless his wife has been illegally talking out of school and to boot, knows WAAAAAY more than a low-level flunky has any business knowing. And in any event , the official record contradicts this interpretation. Again, SSCI.

Facts are stubborn things. But obviously you prefer conspiracy theories.

Oh, and by the way there is this thing called a Shift key.

Posted by: Casserole at August 30, 2006 04:28 PM

"not a political gunslinger,"(?)
Wasn't Armitage one of the signers of a PNAC memo urging the removal of Saddam Hussein in 1998 as well as one of the Keystone Kaperers in Iran Contra?
Is that non-partisan?

Also:

"[Armitage] disclosed casually to Mr. Novak that Ms. Wilson worked for the C.I.A. at the end of an interview in his State Department office. Mr. Armitage knew that, the accounts continue, because he had seen a written memorandum by Under Secretary of State Marc Grossman.

"Mr. Grossman had taken up the task of finding out about Ms. Wilson after an inquiry from I. Lewis Libby Jr., chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney. Mr. Libby’s inquiry was prompted by an Op-Ed article on May 6, 2003, in The New York Times by Nicholas D. Kristof and an article on June 12, 2003, in The Washington Post by Walter Pincus.

What was Libby's motive?

Posted by: DDT at August 30, 2006 04:36 PM

I wonder if I qualify as a political gunslinger? Or am I just the regular sort?

Posted by: Grim at August 30, 2006 04:49 PM

You know what I think?

I think that this is just one huge mess.

My personal opinion (not that anyone cares) is that:

1. Wilson is a damn liar. He has been shown to have lied on several occasions and so people need to stop carrying his water for him. Even the liberal New Republic admit he is a sleaze bag. They are the smartest folks around - I wish more liberals would read them instead of idiot rags like the Nation. I don't always agree with them but I never miss an issue and they're worth every penny of the subscription price if you value good, thought-provoking liberal IDEAS.

2. Libby is also a fairly sleazy character. However, being sleazy is not a crime.

He got in trouble because apparently under intense questioning about a non-crime that Fitzgerald KNEW WASN'T A FRICKING CRIME WHEN HE WAS QUESTIONING him, he may well have misled Fitzgerald. Let's face it - unlike Judy Miller who spent several months eating Snickers before she "remembered" that noteboook she'd lied about, Libby was slightly fricking busy during the period in question. Journalists have no idea how busy a job like Libby's really is. The thing is, I am honest enough to admit this is the case - Libby may have forgotten, or he may have lied.

And, if you go back through my archives, you will quickly find that I have always said that if you lie to a special prosecutor, you deserve whatever happens to you.

What bothers me about this whole thing, however, is this:

The selectivity of the prosecutorial ire:

- you have Judy Miller who flat out defied Fitzgerald and refused to cooperate. WTF? Why isn't she in jail? I'll tell you why. B/c Fitzgerald never intended to prosecute the crime for which this jury was impanelled. He knew from the get-go that a crime had not been committed and either did not have the guts or wanted the glory, and refused to call a halt to the investigation. That pisses me off.

- you have Carl Woodward who was late coming forward. Let me remind you, once more with feeling: THERE IS NO FEDERAL SHIELD LAW. As special as it may be that he wanted to "protect" his source, chivalry is not a legal defense.

I would have had that SOB up on contempt charges (or maybe Clarice, who is a lawyer, can supply the appropriate violation of the appropriate orifice). I'm sorry for being flip, but as an ordinary citizen/housewife, I'm outraged.

The media don't get to demand an investigation and then flout that investigation citing non-existent shield laws meant to protect "whistleblowers" when the subject of this investigation is not a whistleblower, but (if guilty) a damned criminal. These people must think we're idiots. There is no 1st Amendment exception to the obligation to perform your civic duty. It won't fly.

Posted by: Casserole at August 30, 2006 05:02 PM

Damn you, afe.

I keep forgetting to change my name back after you taunt me with your Jacques ChIraq imitations.

La perfide!

Posted by: Cassandra at August 30, 2006 05:05 PM

You see when I start typing in capital letters I'm getting ready to climb the nearest clock tower with my Glock... watch out.

Heh.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 30, 2006 05:06 PM

On the other hand, Armitrage's involvement does not fit nicely with administration statements that leakers get fired either. Or that no one in the White House leaked. Libby wasn't indicted for leaking, it was for lying.
As for quoting fascists about "big lie" strategies, that's a gutsy move considering Big Lie promulgation is a major Rovian political strategy. The "long nightmare" I'm concerned about is not whether Rove is ever frog marched out the front gate or Joe Wilson gets his comeuppance; but whether the American people can come out of their stupor to remember that, based on their performance in Iraq, to give this administration a chance to have their way with Iran would be irresponsible. Maybe Iran is a threat. I don't know; but cut and pasting Iraqi doom and gloom speeches from 2002 and 2003 into 2006 press releases isn't going to convince this veteran.
It would be nice if we knew more about Iran, wouldn't it? Who do we have there now? Anybody? Nobody?

Posted by: jeff who doesn't belong here at August 30, 2006 05:24 PM

*sigh*

You know, if you want to comment, you have to read up on the facts.

Armitage may be a louse, and I can't stand the guy, but the facts don't support his being fired.

There are no facts to support the memo he viewed showing Val Plame's status being "covert". Period. Every single article says that. So he did not know she was "undercover". So there was no LEAK.

So exactly what are you demanding Armitage be fired for "leaking"?

There was no partisan motive.

There was no crime.

There was no "leak" of classified information, because he did not know she was undercover.

So what do you want him to be fired for? Being an asshole? If that were a firing offense, Washington would be a vast wasteland.

Give me a break. Words have meaning. There has to be a firing offense for there to be a firing.

Name the offense, and we'll talk. I'd love to see Armitage fired because frankly I think he's jerk. But even I don't want to see a man run out on a rail because he disagrees politically with my President.

You, on the other hand, seem to want to trump up charges just to play "gotcha" with this administration. It's funny. To me, rules are rules, whether you like someone or not. But you seem to be making this stuff up as you go along, and the only consistent factor is that you want your "side" to win.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 30, 2006 05:36 PM

"whatever happened to transparency, to the public's right to know?"

Drowned in George W's bathtub.

Posted by: Robert at August 30, 2006 05:59 PM

Interesting how you give a complete pass to the press, who've known about this for months and yet didn't "bother" to tell us.

No accountability or transparency there.

But nevermind, we didn't "need" to know the truth. Just believe the crap they shovel to us.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 30, 2006 06:04 PM

Just because Armitage said something doesn't mean he was the only one. Libby didn't (allegedly) commit perjury or obstruction of justice to save Armitage's but. He did it to save his boss. This story is not over.

And complaining about smearing the President after White Water is too funny.

Posted by: John Gillnitz at August 30, 2006 06:18 PM

And complaining about smearing the President after White Water is too funny

*sigh*

Do two wrongs make a right?

As I stated before, if Libby has done something wrong he should be punished. That goes without saying. I am not arguing that point, so if you are attempting to set up a straw man you are wasting your time. READ CAREFULLY.

However, if the prosecutorial standard is that anyone who lied to the special prosecutor is to be brought up on charges than Libby should not be the only one in the dock. And you should not be satisfied to see him alone there. Yet you are.

Why is that? Perhaps because your only motivation all along was to punish this administration, rather than finding the truth?

If we admit that no crime was committed (and that seems to be the case here) and now we are only going after those who obstructed justice, there are a whole SLEW of folks who fit that bill of particulars.

Why is Scooter Libby the only one indicted?

Posted by: Cassandra at August 30, 2006 06:47 PM

Excuse me, but even if they deliberately conspired to discredit Wilson--and his LIES--since when is that a crime?

Since when is it a crime, or even unethical, to engage in a campaign to get the truth out about people who are opposing you by telling lies?

Face it, disappointed Fitzmas folks, this whole investigation was bogus from the beginning....

Posted by: JannyMae at August 30, 2006 07:09 PM

good grief, womyn. give it a rest or take your meds. you sound downright manic.

Posted by: jeremiah at August 30, 2006 07:24 PM

Wow. What a crushing refutation.

I think in light of all the facts presented in that last comment, I'll just have to retire from blogging.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 30, 2006 07:37 PM

Kool Aid kids
can't ever seem to let go of
the pitcher that drowned them.


Posted by: spd rdr at August 30, 2006 08:17 PM

Angry trackbacks
Lead opposing posters to rant
with Kool Aid breath

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at August 30, 2006 09:41 PM

Why speak of Kool-Aid?
Marijuana cuts easily
With Occam's Razor.

Posted by: Grim at August 30, 2006 10:17 PM

Count my crocodile tears for George W. Bush et al. if they were indeed unjustly accused. All the dirty GOP hardball lies of Karl Rove, Richard Mellon Schaiffe, The Swiftboat Veterans, Lee Atwater, Ollie North, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and the rest of the evildoers of the right make this one incident look like a minor misunderstanding, which, I still believe , it was more than.

Nobody died because of it, did they? So cry me a river.

Posted by: Lisa M. at August 31, 2006 02:15 AM

So was there a yellowcake sale? Was Valerie Plame a covert agent and did her entire operation get compromised? Was it Democrats that caused this to happen? I am in open-mouthed awe at your misplaced outrage. A bad thing happened. The Vice President appears to have been primary instigator of the bad thing. And you blame the press. Huh?

Posted by: Michelle Murphy at August 31, 2006 07:16 AM

I am really losing patience.

Do you even bother to read things before commenting?

Who said there was a yellowcake sale? Honestly Michelle, please, please, please READ THE POST. You are scaring me.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 31, 2006 07:31 AM

Sought begins with the letter "s".

Bought begins with the letter "b".

I am not trying to be insulting, but you are about the third commenter from salon who hasn't bothered to read carefully and then has made a comment that makes no sense.

I am more than happy to engage with commenters who disagree with me on the merits, but it is helpful if they have read the post and are disagreeing with points I have actually made

Posted by: Cassandra at August 31, 2006 07:33 AM

And regarding this:

Was Valerie Plame a covert agent and did her entire operation get compromised?

We don't know that. Because the special prosecutor never bothered to establish an essential element of the "crime" in question. Interesting, no?

Apparently not, to some. In any criminal prosecution the burden of proof is on the government, not on the defense. Yet Fitz never bothered to establish that Plame was, in fact, a covert agent, which he MUST do in order to prosecute under the IIPA. Don't any of you find this the LEAST BIT CURIOUS?

Good God.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 31, 2006 07:36 AM

There are two elements of the IIPA that Fitz had to establish (and yes, I've read it):

1. That she was in fact covert under the test in the IIPA.

2. That the CIA was, in fact, taking ACTIVE steps to protect her identity. One of the lawyers who authored the IIPA (Victoria Toensing) has already opined that in her opinion the Justice department would be unlikely to sustain such a claim given the facts on the ground.

You know, you guys have an awful lot of opinions as to BushCo's evilness, my sanity, insulting and juvenile references to Koolaid, etc. Not a whole lot of reasonable disagreement based on any facts. What evidence do you present that the Vice President is responsible for anything, other than general 'bad vibes' or your dislike of the man? Is that admissible in court?

Doesn't make for a terribly pleasant discussion.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 31, 2006 07:46 AM

so dissenting voices get scrubed at this site. you'd probably like to run the nation that way wouldn't you? coward.

Posted by: jay k. at August 31, 2006 08:26 AM

Try not to embarrass yourself, Jay. What dissenting voices have been scrubbed?

Insults do not a discussion make. Stick to the facts and stop indulging in juvenile distractions.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 31, 2006 08:55 AM

Cass,
I have read this thoroughly and also the comments. So, in this 'affaire' Wilson goes to Niger and confirms that Iraq was in the market for yellowcake. Doesn't buy any, but is looking.
Comes back and reports same. So, the spin is that while Iraq sought yellowcake, but didn't buy any from Niger, is the foundation for the Bush lied meme, and Valerie Wilson was outed in revenge?

My head hurts and I can't believe yours didn't explode.

Fire them all and let the Almighty sort them out.

Posted by: Cricket at August 31, 2006 09:13 AM

I don't know what to say, Cricket.

Sometimes when Peter links to me, we manage to have good discussions with Salon commenters. It is always a challenge because we are inevitably going to disagree, but I have always tried really, really hard to be polite and to entertain opposing viewpoints.

But it is pretty frustrating when people don't bother to read the post, mischaracterize what I've actually said, accuse me of "scrubing" [sic] comments (WTF?) or spend the bulk of their time saying either:

1. You're drinking Koolaid/you're unhinged (wow - *that* added a lot to the discussion - if that is the best refutation you can come up with to a detailed post that you just happen to disagree with, then I really have to wonder), or

2. La la la la - even if everything you say is true, this is all payback/this is nothing compared to [name your GOP grievance] (i.e., two wrongs make a right). Huh???? Wow. Many of my friends are Dems but they aren't of the cheese eating moral equivalence stripe. In fact they are Dems because they keep arguing they are morally superior to the GOP :D So I'm a tad bemused by the "it's OK for us to do bad stuff to you guys b/c you did it to us first" argument".

Whatever happened to things being right or wrong on the merits? Suddenly I am feeling very old.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 31, 2006 09:35 AM

Hmmm. I'll have some, oh, grape please. I always liked grape.

Slowly stir the mix.
Salonites Agonistes!
Sweet balm of Lethys.

Oh, and Cassie - Give 'em a whiff of grape, that should settle them down.

I am jealous though. You get all the kewl kids.

Posted by: John of Argghhh! at August 31, 2006 10:50 AM

Cassandra asked:
Try not to embarrass yourself, Jay. What dissenting voices have been scrubbed?

You forgot the main tenet of Leftist Free Speech Theory:

It is for them only. If you question their claims, then you are trying to silence them.

The poor delicate creatures can't stand dissent directed against their dissenting voices.

Posted by: Patrick Chester at August 31, 2006 11:41 AM

So somehow a CIA officer didn't have her cover blown? Are you nuts?

It doesn't really matter if Armitage did it first to cover his boss's ass. It's still treason when Rove and Libby spread the story to others.

Posted by: Bill Biddle at August 31, 2006 12:06 PM

Armitage was covering Colin Powell's ass?

Wow. And I'm on Koolaid?

Posted by: Cassandra at August 31, 2006 12:41 PM

Valerie Plame was NOT an undercover operative.
She was NOT a field agent. She was an analyst.
Why send her husband to check it out if there wasn't anything to find? Hmmmmm? She isn't even Jaime Bond. This is reading like a really bad Robert Ludlum or Tom Clancy novel.

Icky.

Posted by: Cricket at August 31, 2006 01:39 PM

As far back as Desert Storm, there was something about Colin Powell that didn't sit right with me.
I'm a Vietnam veteran, and have worked along side many Officers and Senior NCOs. Most of whom were stand up leaders, good men you could trust.

But there were some that...well, you wouldn't trust, or felt you couldn't trust. It was just the way it was. I get that same feeling whenever I see, or hear Powell.

Thanks for confirming my suspicions about the man.

Posted by: alpynecrowe at September 1, 2006 12:08 AM

Thanks Cassandra, I have plowed through this crap for the last three years, also for the last time, the whole Bush lied, poeple died montra. The thing that burns my ass the most about the leftwing type is their insistens on an ever changing set of "facts". Do you remember how it goes, "If the glove don't fit, you have to aquite". This nonsence was so polished, so well suited to this inherent need to smack the White House, it couldn't be laid aside. I don't make post to any blog as a matter of policy, (lack of talent, time, mostly intrest of subject), I was really impled to thank you. Good Job.

Posted by: Barry C. Tierney at September 1, 2006 10:52 AM

Why is it so hard to understand that Armitage shot his mouth off to try to strengthen the position of his boss, Powell, at State.

Libby and Rove shot their mouths off as "payback" to Wilson for exposing President Bush's lies about Iraq.

If President Bush did not lie, then why did the White House have to withdraw the "16 words" claim made in the State of the Union address? Eh?

Posted by: Bill Biddle at September 2, 2006 12:40 PM

Let's try to stay within the realm of known fact rather than what you'd like to be true.

Gee... I don't know? It wasn't worth trying to defend them against what has proved to be 2 1/2 years of lies (SSCI, Butler report, and CIA record) as the WaPo so trenchantly observed yesterday?

And you are speculating about Armitage, Libby, and Rove. Rove, from all accounts, was approached by Cooper, not the other way around.

Libby, as I've stated many times, if he did leak and did lie, deserves whatever he gets. But that is a matter for a court and not idle speculation.

Judy Miller also lied and obstructed justice and I still can't figure out why her tuckus hasn't been indicted.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 2, 2006 12:48 PM

One mendacious editorial by the notoriously radical right-winger Fred Hiatt of WaPo, and the Citizens of The United States of Scared Shitless, are falling all over themselves.

The editorial page of a newspaper is independent from the rest of the paper. That is why a great paper like the WSJ can have such fantastic reporting and such an extremist right - wing editorial page. Ditto for WaPo.

Got forbids that the Bush robots would go digging up facts and evaluate them impartially. Facts, indeed! If a member of the right-wing lunatic fringe says Wilson is a liar, it must be so. It must be God's Truth.

You people are such dumb, ignorant, ill - informed, and paranoid, imbeciles. No wonder this country is going down the drain. You have swallowed the Bush propaganda line, hook, and sinker. Your I. Q. is so low that you are entirely devoid of critical faculties. You are exactly the same types of losers who turned to Hitler in Germany; the kind that needs a "strong" Daddy.


Posted by: Devil's Advocate at September 4, 2006 08:51 AM

Ah! I see that, like your little fascist friends on other right- wing blogs, you censor criticism of your wide - eyed idiocy.

As I wrote, you people exhibit all the characteristics of good Nazis and other dictatorship - lovers. One of them is to silence criticism.

Why do you hate Democracy and America?

Posted by: Devil's Advocate at September 4, 2006 09:05 AM

Ah! I see that, like your little fascist friends on other right- wing blogs, you censor criticism of your wide - eyed idiocy.

You are the second liberal commenter on this thread to accuse me of this, on no evidence.

I am really starting to wonder if you people all have attention deficit disorder.

What is wrong with you? Pay attention. Your previous comment was posted intact - I could hardly censor it, as I was out of the state without access to a computer, and in any event I don't censor comments.

But if it makes you feel better to say that, be my guest.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 4, 2006 02:21 PM

You know, it really does not speak well for your side of the political spectrum when you all come over here and the bulk of your comments, rather than sticking to refuting my arguments, are nasty and personally insulting and then on top of everything you make false accusations that I am censoring your ad hominem remarks (which I would be fully within my rights to do since insults are off topic and add nothing to the discussion).

The political left is supposed to be about kindness and diversity and tolerance, but somehow I am not seeing any of those values on display. So far I have been accused (falsely) of censoring comments twice now by people who simply aren't bothering to pay attention.

That's not right.

And rather than counter any of my arguments or facts, I've basically seen a whole lot of namecalling and juvenile insults. I don't think that's why Peter linked to my post, and frankly I think it's really a bit sad. I wouldn't dream of going to a lefty site and treating the author that way, and I can't imagine what makes you all think that's an acceptable way to act. If you disagree with my points, state your reasons like grown-ups. There is no reason to be nasty about it.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 4, 2006 02:34 PM

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