the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

December 9, 2005

Patrick Gavin Follow Up


I wanted to thank Patrick Gavin for his talk last night at DCDL, and wanted to use the opportunity to follow up on one of his points. The point was that outside the beltway people don’t see the Plame scandal as a major issue. This may certainly be the case. I can certainly verify that this was a major topic of discussion in Massachusetts, which is certainly outside of 495, but perhaps not representative of the “outside the beltway” viewpoint.

What bothers me about the Plame incident is that a democratic government would use its power to smear a critic. To me, a government that acts in that manner is no different from a banana republic. (or a Gap, but that’s another story.)

As far as a bigger message goes, the Plame incident is a piece of a puzzle that includes the massive PR campaign before the Iraq War, the bogus Powell presentation to the UN, the fake news stories- both in Iraq and the US, the use of torture to extract bogus confessions that are then used as “evidence.” The “Freedom Walk” on September 11, the “Truth Tour” sponsored by the Pentagon, the staged “rescue” of Jessica Lynch. Profiteering by Halliburton, bombing Al Jazeera. It’s all part of the Big Lie.

Everything associated with Iraq has what Tennesee Williams called “the foul odor of mendacity” about it.

This is a point that needs to get hammered home. As more and more people realize they have been lied to, they will become increasingly angry. From Day 1 Iraq has been a betrayal of our trust. I wouldn’t underestimate the reaction that betrayal provokes.


  1. Bill Clinton’s friend was placed in charge of a large PR firm on the 9th. On the day Plame retires he goes to Montreal to ask for money. Have to wonder if its Brester’s Millions again, but the British are retiring the Roadmaster DD bus today………

    —Eaweq • 3:09 pm

  2. For all the time the press spends on the Plame affair, I still wonder whether the wider public will come away from this with a clear understanding about what was done. Assuming that those who care to consider the evidence will understand that there was a leak and that Valerie Plame did have a covert identity, I also hope the public will come to realize that this was probably not an accident. We may never know exactly who leaked Plame’s identity, but we should be able to agree there is no reason to accept on faith the claim that Plame’s identity was leaked by accident. If it were true that leaks are not uncommon, we’d probably be pointing to lots of past examples of leaks just like this one. But we can’t. I think that’s because there are, in fact, strict guidelines for dealing with classified information. It’s known that classified information is marked classified, that White House staffers swear an oath not to reveal that information, and that the White House Briefing Book calls on the President to punish staffers found guilty of leaking classified information, WHETHER KNOWINGLY OR UNKNOWINGLY. The press has often simply reported that the White House does not believe anyone knowingly leaked Plame’s identity. At a minimum, Bush should have said by now that someone in the White House was extraordinarily careless in leaking information that seems to have been clearly marked classified, yet we haven’t even heard him say that.

    Although Valerie Plame was too obviously a victim to be accused of anything, we regularly hear that the Valerie Plame affair makes everyone look bad — the White House, journalists, Joe Wilson and Patrick Fitzgerald. I disagree.

    I do agree that many of the journalists involved, particularly Judy Miller (and maybe Bob Woodward), have been less than honest. I tend to agree with those who say that journalists should not be protecting sources whom they know or suspect to be committing crimes. Gavin made an good point when he said that a source who is a whistleblower is probably more deserving of protection than a source who is simply a source. I think that also suggests there is some gray area, that it may be ethical for a journalist to protect even a criminal/suspected criminal who is providing information for a greater good. There aren’t any whistleblowers in the Valerie Plame affair, of course.

    I don’t think Fitzgerald deserves any serious criticism. If a reporter’s source is actually a prime suspect in a crime being investigated (and if the source is not a whistleblower in an even more important crime), I think a prosecutor should have a right to compel that reporter to testify about their source. Fitzgerald held firm with Judy Miller, but rightly so.

    Joe Wilson does not deserve any serious criticism. In fact, he really deserves an apology at this point for the accusations made against him that have recently been proven wholly false. While he was criticized mostly for things unrelated to the leak (his report, which dismissed allegations about Iraqi purchases of uranium from Niger), we rarely hear the facts about Wilson’s report on uranium sales. Although Wilson’s main finding, that there was no evidence that Saddam had purchased uranium from Niger, had never been called into question, the White House and Bush loyalists seized on the allegation that there was evidence that there had at least been contacts between Iraqi agents and Niger and that Wilson had missed that fact in his investigation. Now we have learned (just a month or two ago) that evidence about these contacts also was fabricated. Italian intelligence (which was the White House’s source) disavowed it after their source, a member of the Italian Parliament, I think, admitted his story was a hoax (why he made this up is another question). It should be conceded at this point that there really isn’t any doubt about Joe Wilson’s credibility.

    Journalists (Robert Novak first and foremost, then Judy Miller and maybe others) are at best accomplices after the fact. Some might like to think that Joe Wilson committed what might be analogized as perjury on a matter unrelated to the crime (but we now know it wasn’t). Patrick Fitzgerald is simply what he is, an aggressive prosecutor.

    So, as to who’s to be judged in the Valerie Plame affair, it’s pretty clear to This Court that it’s the White House. If anyone committed perjury and/or obstruction of justice for no other reason than to bog down the investigation of this leak, it is someone working in the White House. If anyone had the motive and the means to leak Valerie Plame’s identity, it’s the White House. If anyone is proven guilty in the leak, it’s one or more people who work in the White House. The White House.

    Now maybe we can get back to the opening statements.

    Jesse3:11 am, December 11

  3. Sorry I had to zip out so quickly, it looked like it was going to be an interesting discussion. :)

    The presentation itself was good, though he was not as good a moderator as the previous speaker we had. Perhaps a moderator of some sort might be a good idea just to keep the flow of things going?

    No, I’m not talking about “pre-approved questions” or the like, I LIKE it when questions are unexpected. Just someone to keep an eye on the clock so more people have a chance to ask questions without the group discussion taking over the Q&A. :)

    StealthBadger1:37 pm, December 11

  4. Yes, SB, I was trying to figure out what to do about the group discussion. A little of it is okay, because sometimes people want to respond to things other questioners say. But there was starting to be too much of it. It did look like most people who wanted to ask a question got to, but maybe there were some people who gave up.

    Keith5:37 pm, December 11

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