By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Tag: Valerie Plame

Gonzales is just the beginning

Is Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ imminent departure really going to be enough to put the fired-prosecutors story to rest? It shouldn’t — certainly not after today’s disclosure in the Washington Post that Gonzales’ office was teeing up U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald while Fitzgerald was in the midst of the Valerie Plame leak investigation.

Fitzgerald was never actually fired, of course. But for the administration to be making ominous noises about his lack of loyalty at the very moment that he was investigating possible illegal behavior in the White House is repellent, to say the least.

TPM Muckraker has a great synopsis of the latest from last night’s document-dump.

The media are fully revved up now, but the danger is that they’ll drop the story as soon as Gonzales departs. They shouldn’t. Just as Scooter Libby’s conviction in the leak case told us more about Dick Cheney than it did about Libby, so do the shenanigans of Gonzales and his former aide D. Kyle Sampson tell us more about President Bush’s no-hold-bars political operation than it does about Gonzales and Sampson.

Yes, Harriet Miers and Karl Rove, that means you.

Meanwhile, “On the Media” this week has a useful discussion with Slate legal correspondent Dahlia Lithwick, who puts to rest the notion that the Bush administration’s attempt to get rid of eight U.S. attorneys in midstream is somehow analagous to Bill Clinton’s replacing all 93 at the beginning of his presidency.

What Joseph Wilson said

I have to laugh at Josh Marshall for charging Charles Krauthammer with telling a “lie” about former ambassador Joseph Wilson — namely, that Wilson had claimed he was sent on his infamous mission to Niger by Vice President Dick Cheney.

Marshall approvingly reproduces an e-mail from someone who had seen Krauthammer make that accusation on a TV show. The reader points out, quite accurately, that Wilson never made such a claim in his celebrated New York Times op-ed piece. Marshall concludes: “Does someone know where one can find transcripts for this show. It doesn’t surprise me that Krauthammer is still peddling this lie.”

But wait. No, Wilson didn’t say it in his op-ed. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t say it. For instance, check out this Wilson statement, which he made on CNN in July 7, 2003 (thanks to Bob Somerby of the Daily Howler):

Well, I went in, actually in February of 2002 was my most recent trip there — at the request, I was told, of the office of the vice president, which had seen a report in intelligence channels about this purported memorandum of agreement on uranium sales from Niger to Iraq.

Yes, Wilson gave himself some wiggle room, but clearly he wanted viewers to believe he’d been sent to Niger by Cheney. I’m sure there are other examples out there, too. And yes, for some time now I’ve shared Somerby’s view that critics of the Bush administration have hurt themselves with their unquestioning embrace of the dubious Mr. Wilson.

It sounds like Krauthammer got it right.

Muzzling Valerie Plame

The never-ending story of Valerie Plame Wilson, the CIA operative who was exposed by columnist Robert Novak in the summer of 2003, has taken another odd turn.

According to Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff, the CIA has blocked a book that Plame wants to write on the grounds that it would endanger national security. Incredibly, Plame would not even be allowed to write that she once worked for the CIA, though hundreds, if not thousands, of journalists have reported exactly that.

No doubt the so-called Plame scandal is a big, honking mess. Originally some critics of President Bush (including me) believed the White House had leaked to Novak, Matt Cooper, Judith Miller and others in order to punish Plame’s husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, who had proclaimed in a celebrated New York Times op-ed piece that his skeptical report on Iraq’s attempts to obtain uranium from Niger had been ignored.

That theory became less likely when we learned last August — from Isikoff and David Corn of The Nation — that the original leaker was Richard Armitage, a former deputy secretary of state who’d been an internal opponent of the war in Iraq. Nor has it helped that Joe Wilson has proven less than credible (see these Daily Howler posts). Yes, Dick Cheney’s former chief aide, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, faces charges for his alleged role in outing Plame. But at this point it’s hard to believe we’ll ever get to the bottom of this.

But why censor Valerie Plame? No, a former CIA employee should not be allowed to reveal secrets if doing so would make us less safe. But this seems aimed more at stopping a book that would prove embarrassing to the Bush administration — and it calls to mind this piece of lunacy, from just a few weeks ago.

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