Saturday, July 16, 2005

Fools Rush In


“Of all the Causes which conspire to blind
Man’s erring Judgment, and misguide the Mind,
What the weak Head with strongest Byass rules
Is Pride, the never-failing Vice of Fools.”

-
Alexander Pope – “An Essay on Criticism”

The Democratic Party and the media need to be careful right now. It seems to me that they’re painting the picture of Karl Rove, Joe Wilson, and Valerie Plame from the center toward the corner. I have a hunch that before long they’re going to be sitting in that corner, paint brushes in hand, looking silly and looking for a way out of the mess they got themselves into.

By now almost everyone ‘seems” to know what’s going on in the case. The word “seems” makes this a very iffy proposition, but that hasn’t done anything to cool the media speculation and the political grandstanding.

This is what Harry Reid; Senate minority leader had to say about the case:

“MR. PRESIDENT, I WANT EVERYONE HERE TODAY TO BE CLEAR WHAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT. YOU CAN CALL IT POLITICS. I CALL IT GOVERNMENT. I CALL IT GOOD GOVERNMENT. WE'RE TALKING ABOUT A MATTER OF NATIONAL SECURITY. AT LEAST ONE, THERE COULD BE MORE BUT AT LEAST ONE SENIOR WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL DISCLOSED THE IDENTITY OF A SENIOR INTELLIGENCE OFFICER TO A REPORTER OR REPORTERS AND THEN THIS ADMINISTRATION PROCEEDED TO DENY AND DEFLECT THE TRUTH AFTER IT WAS DISCOVERED THAT IT HAD BEEN LEAKED. IT PUT THIS AGENT'S LIFE IN JEOPARDY. I REPEAT, PUT THIS AGENT'S LIFE IN JEOPARDY. PLUS PEOPLE THAT SHE HAD DEALT WITH FROM OTHER COUNTRIES AND HERE IN AMERICA. IT PUT OUR INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY AT RISK, AND, OF COURSE, JEOPARDIZED OUR NATIONAL SECURITY.”

And then there was this from Nancy Pelosi, House minority whip:

“The American people deserve the truth about who in the White House recklessly disclosed the identity of a CIA clandestine service officer, endangering our national security. The first President Bush called it a traitorous act to reveal the names of those involved in intelligence collection.”

The problem with the statements is that they are premature at best and reckless at worst.

The root of the grandstanding is former ambassador Joe Wilson’s contention that Karl Rove “outed” his wife because of his criticism of the Bush administration in the run-up to the Iraq war. He has further contended that his wife, the now famous Valerie Plame, was a covert operative. Seizing on this information, Democrats and media pundits are now citing laws prohibiting such action and demanding that Rove either resign or be tried for treason.

But, in the last few days information has been filtering out that make Wilson’s, and Plame’s, contentions suspect and causing Democrats to agonizingly paint themselves into a nasty political corner.

They should have known better. A year ago now the Senate Intelligence Committee had this to say about the man who has become something of a media darling:

“The former ambassador also told the committee staff that he was the source of a Washington Post article ('CIA Did Not Share Doubt on Iraq Data; Bush Used Report of Uranium Bid,' June 12, 2003) which said, 'among the envoy's conclusions was that the documents may have been forged because "the dates were wrong and the names were wrong"' when he had never seen the CIA reports and had no knowledge of what names and dates were in the reports. The former ambassador said that he may have 'misspoken' to the reporter when he said he concluded the documents were 'forged.' He also said he may have become confused about his own recollections after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported in March 2003 that the names and dates on the documents were not correct and may have thought he had seen the names himself.”

Near the end of the same report this was this interesting little tidbit:

“In an interview with committee staff, Mr. Wilson was asked how he knew some of the things he was stating publicly with such confidence. On at least two occasions he admitted that he had no direct knowledge to support some of his claims and that he was drawing on either unrelated past experiences or no information at all. For example, when asked how he “knew” that the Intelligence Committee had rejected the possibility of a Niger-Iraq uranium deal, as he wrote in his book, he told committee staff that his assertion may have involved “a little literary flair.”

In the past few days, Mr. Wilson has had to do a bit of backtracking on some of his recent statements:

“Wilson on Thursday acknowledged his wife was no longer in an undercover job at the time Novak's column first identified her.”

“My wife was not a clandestine officer the day that Bob Novak blew her identity,” he said.”

“But in an interview Friday, Wilson said his comment was meant to reflect that his wife lost her ability to be a covert agent because of the leak, not that she had stopped working for the CIA beforehand.”


So, the story and Joe Wilson’s head are both still in spin.

And it now appears that Ms. Plame wasn’t a covert operative after all, as this piece from Powerline reveals:

“A former CIA covert agent who supervised Mrs. Plame early in her career yesterday took issue with her identification as an “undercover agent,” saying that she worked for more than five years at the agency's headquarters in Langley and that most of her neighbors and friends knew that she was a CIA employee. “She made no bones about the fact that she was an agency employee and her husband was a diplomat,” Fred Rustmann, a covert agent from 1966 to 1990, told The Washington Times.”

“Her neighbors knew this, her friends knew this, his friends knew this. A lot of blame could be put on to central cover staff and the agency because they weren't minding the store here. ... The agency never changed her cover status.” ”In addition, Mrs. Plame hadn't been out as an NOC since 1997, when she returned from her last assignment, married Mr. Wilson and had twins, USA Today reported yesterday. The distinction matters because a law that forbids disclosing the name of undercover CIA operatives applies to agents that had been on overseas assignment “within the last five years.”

And then there are the media reports coming in about their involvement in the case. According to a “source close” to the grand jury testimony, Karl Rove learned about Valerie Plame from the media. In other words, the media itself and not Rove may have been the source of the leak.

It’s all getting more than a bit twisted. About the only thing that seems clear right now is that there is a lot of political and journalistic hot air being expended in Washington, D.C. The problem for the Democrats and the left leaning media is that this could be another one of those minefields they’ve gotten all too used to blithely walking into.

Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi can be excused for exhibiting such stupidity. It’s their job and they’ve become well practiced at it. But you would think after Rathergate and the other recent media scandals that the boys of the Fourth Estate would keep their feet out of the fire.

In the end Reid and Pelosi won’t be hurt too much. The public understands them for what they are – buffoons! But the media was just trying to regain its credibility. Dan Rather no longer sits at the anchor desk at CBS and it appears that plagiarism and lies were actually being frowned upon.

But now it looks for all the world to this humble blogger that the media is once again reverting to form, as this snippet from TCS asserts:

“As the national “paper of record”, the New York Times has obligations not only to its readers, its writers, and its sources, as well as its brothers-in-arms in the worldwide media, but to all Americans. Devotees of the Times are invited to place their trust in the paper's reports, its editorials -- and its integrity.”

“It's a shame, then, that the paper has gone so far out on a limb in the recent Joseph Wilson-Valerie Plame affair in naked pursuit of two paramount objectives, to the exclusion of all others: uncompromisingly defending the inviolability of reportorial privilege and relentlessly excoriating the Bush administration.”

“But strangely enough, in this case, it turns out that the two objectives are fundamentally at loggerheads. In order for the administration to “do the right thing,” in the eyes of the fabled Gray Lady, it must conduct a thorough investigation of whether a government official, in mid-2003, knowingly leaked to the media the identity of Plame, said to be a covert CIA agent at the time. Yet in order to uncover the leaker, federal investigators must interrogate the most relevant witnesses to the alleged crime, namely the recipients of the leaks.”

“This paradox has forced the Times -- and other liberal papers and commentators -- to turn linguistic and logical cartwheels when justifying their statements and actions.”

It’s hard to say when it will all end. The investigation will run its course. The facts will come out. But until they do the politicians will continue rant and rave and the media will continue running ever bigger inverted pyramids.

The real losers in this fiasco will be the public. We’ve known for a long time we can’t trust politicians. That’s a given. But we were in the early stages of re-investing some trust in our media. We actually believed it was important to have people we could trust to bring us the “facts” and were in the process of giving that trust to journalists. In the light of all that’s coming to light that isn’t likely to happen now.

Perhaps the only good thing that will come of it all is that we once again see these folks for the fools they really are!

8 comments:

James Fletcher Baxter said...

"Ye blind guides which strain at gnats and swallow a camel." Matthew 23:24

selah

AubreyJ said...

That was about the best, to the point Post I have read on this topic to date. To the point and with no spin I saw in the Post titled- "Fools Rush IN."
As do you... I too believe the Democratic Party and the media need to be careful with what they do and say right now but we both know it's not in the 'BEAST' to do such a thing....
'Hat Tip' about this POST coming to you from my house... Thanks for the read.
AubreyJ.................

Ed Darrell said...

Joe Wilson is not the beast. Whatever his shortcomings, he was pilloried, unjustly and savagely, by the White House, for having told the truth.

The pillorying included an illegal action, a treasonous public identification of an agent of the United States working for our safety.

Pelosi and Reid are correct to sound the claxons. There are foxes in the chicken coop. That some of the chickens may be of a nasty disposition does not change the fact that we need them, and the fox bears us no good will.

If those statements are premature, then there would not be the investigation by a special counsel, appointed by a panel of judges to whom were given the facts, and who determined there was a probable violation of the law.

You denigrate the justice system when you participate in the White House coverup. Be very clear that you understand that.

Ed Darrell said...

You know, you young whippersnappers may not recall the Watergate era. The whistleblowers in the press were scoriated then, too.

But they were right. I was in Washington the night Nixon asked the Joint Chiefs of Staff to prepare a plan to keep him in power with tanks, if the courts determined he was criminally in error.

The press saved our Constitution then. They did so with the help of an unidentified source who kept the truth rolling like Amos's waters of justice.

We might be wise not to side with the Nixonians this time, either.

Storm Trooper said...

tra la!

Orikinla Osinachi. said...

I have already said that most of the critics calling for the head of Karl Rove are ignorant and naive.

Most of their comments were deduced from the media. And 90% of them don't even know where Niger is.

I am from Nigeria and the case on the uranium also involved Nigeria. You can ask the Vice President Dick Cheney.

Karl Rove never leaked any secret.
They just want to call the dog a bad name in order to hang it.

I have already dealt with this case with the most comprehensive reports on the issues at stake on my blog http://nigeriantimes.blogspot.com, but most of the so called left-wing democrats or liberals were just too lazy and narrowminded to read all the reports and preferred to constitute a lousy conference of public nuisance.

This case is not a scoop for every Dick, Tom and Harry to be shouting about.

Somebody was reminding me of the Downing Street Memo on the New York Times. And I repeated that the Downing Street Memo was not a scoop. The American Press is just too opportunistic and erratic.

Anonymous said...

The heart of the Valerie Plame case is the Bush administration's determination to rush to war with Iraq. Joe Wilson was reacting to the assertion in Bush's 2002 State of the Union address that Saddam Hussein tried to buy "yellow-cake" uranium from Africa, a statement attributed to "British intelligence." Wilson, who actually looked into the matter, disputed this in an opinion piece for the New York Times, so the White House went about trying to cast doubt on his credibility.

Going to war is not something that a country should rush into, but the Bush administration was determined to do just that. If Hussein's attempt to buy uranium was such a compelling reason to go to war, shouldn't that "British intelligence" have been confirmed by the CIA, rather than used as a technical crutch in Bush's speech?

Time (the real thing, not the magazine) has convinced me that Bush wanted a shooting war with Iraq because he thought that it would be quick, relatively painless, and politically advantageous in the 2004 election. Wilson cast doubt on Bush's causus belli. This was why Bush and his operatives set about trying to discredit him.

Wilson had first-hand information that the administration should have examined. Instead, they went about trying to kill the messanger so that they could put our troops' lives in danger for Bush's political benefit. Whether a crime has been committed or not, that is appalling behavior from those we trust to run the country.


Rob in L.A.

Ed Darrell said...

The claim Bush made was that Saddam tried to purchase uranium in Niger.

You'd sorta thinkg a guy from Nigeria would have the difference figured out . . .