Thoughts on the Plame Leak Case

Under the big, bold headline, "Rove, Libby Cleared!" the New Wars blog points to a Newsmax story that says indictments charging the two aides with releasing classified information are not likely, supposedly based on a New York Times story. New Wars blogger Mike Burleson ends his post with, "If the NYT is reporting good news about the White House, it must be true!"

We'll know soon whether the headline is true or not -- Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald is expected to outline possible charges to the grand jury as early as today.

But I wouldn't put my money on both aides walking away, and certainly not based on the Newsmax story, which is completely misleading. Its headline screams, "NY Times: Karl Rove, Lewis Libby Likely Cleared on Leakgate Charges," but if one takes the time to read the Times story itself, it is clear that not only are indictments expected, but "Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby have been advised that they may be in serious legal jeopardy."

Newsmax and its loyal blogger friends argue that government cover-ups are not a big deal -- the Newsmax report actually condemns Fitzgerald for daring to consider issuing charges of perjury, obstruction of justice, making false statements or conspiracy. Yet I seem to recall that when it was determined that cavorting with a White House intern was not actually a "high crime" or a "misdemeanor," Congressional Republicans sought impeachment charges of -- wait for it -- perjury, obstruction of justice, making false statements, and conspiracy. If we see such charges in this leak case, it would be highly hypocritical for the right-wing pontificators to cry foul. (Kay Bailey Hutchinson, as noted in the Carpetbagger Report and elsewhere, has crossed that line already. On Meet the Press, she said, "I certainly hope that if there is going to be an indictment ... that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn't indict on the crime and so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation was not a waste of time and taxpayer dollars." Flashback to 1999, anyone?)

Even the Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol predicted on Fox News that Libby and Rove would be indicted, according to the News Hounds blog ("We watch FOX so you don't have to.")

Some, of course, are hoping for more heads to roll than just those of Rove and Libby ....

Gadfly, a self-described "existentialist secularist" living in Texas (gotta be an endangered species), theorizes that the reason Fitzgerald hasn't handed down any indictments yet is that he's considering calling someone higher than Libby and Rove to testify -- or perhaps wrestling with whether to indict Dick Cheney. John Nichols, writing in The Nation magazine's Online Beat blog makes the case against Cheney. Is it that hard to believe Cheney might delight in orchestrating a devastating retribution against Wilson (really, Wilson's wife) as payback for having his word on WMD in Iraq called into question? No, says Nichols, "no one, repeat no one, in Washington is known to be more vindictive than Dick Cheney."

Choice America Editorial is steamed that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was involved in "giving White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card a 12-hour heads up on a subpoena of documents vital to the now infamous "leak gate" investigation on the outing of then CIA covert agent Valerie Plame. Do you understand?-- a 12-hour heads up warning."

Throughout the liberal sector of the blogosphere, there is much discussion about this New York Daily News article, which the White House was quick to dismiss. The story says that Bush admonished Rove for his involvement in the leak two years ago, which would mean that a whole lot of lying of the who-knew-what-when variety has been going on. The progressive All Facts and Opinions blog says that since spokesman Scott McClellan did not say what exactly was inaccurate about the article, the denial means nothing. (One report the White House has not denied, however, is yesterday's New York Times front page story reporting that Libby first learned about Valerie Plame from the Vice President, weeks before her identity was exposed in Robert Novak's column.)

David Corn of The Nation blogs about another Times story that raises the important question of whether Special Prosecutor Partick Fitzgerald will release a final report, just like an independent counsel would have, if that law were still in effect. (Fitzgerald appears to have an impressive bio, by the way.)

James Moore jumps right into the deep end with this declaration in the Huffington Post: "Patrick Fitzgerald has before him the most important criminal case in American history. Watergate, by comparison, was a random burglary in an age of innocence."

I'm not so sure Moore is right about that -- time will tell, I suppose -- but the case is a landmark for the media, thanks in part to Time reporter Judith Miller's trip to jail. Columnists are having a field day. Gene Robinson calls Miller a "piece of work." Clarence Page wonders whether Miller is a hero or a stooge. Jim Hoagland asks, "For this scandal, the lingering question is a paraphrase on Howard Baker's Watergate query about the president three decades ago: What did the New York Times not know, and when did it not know it?"

Michael Kinsley (welcome to The Post, Mike!) makes an argument that might be of somewhat more interest to someone reading a blog: "One reason for the explosion of hostility toward Miller and the Times is the resentment of the blogosphere. Blogging is, if anything, more like the kind of pamphleteering the Framers had in mind when they guaranteed "freedom of the press" than are the New York Times or The Washington Post. But if everyone with a blog or an e-mail discussion board is a journalist, who isn't?" He's quite right about the founding fathers -- the idea behind the free press worked under the assumption that newspapers and the like would have a bias. This whole neutral-journalist thing is a relatively recent invention. (I'm sure some people would say it's also a figment of the MSM's imagination. But that's a topic for another week.)

Of course, it's possible that I just wrote all this for nothing. Chris Nolan on spot-on.com says that the Plame leak story "is of no interest whatsoever to anyone living outside the Washington, D.C., beltway or off the island of Manhattan. It is a high-stakes game of inside baseball gone public. And it is boring." Granted, that was written back in July, so perhaps his view has changed. Or maybe this whole thing is still unimaginably boring to much of the country. Anyone?

By Emily Messner |  October 26, 2005; 9:00 AM ET  | Category:  This Week's Issue
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Comments

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I am not in the Beltway and I hang onto every word that has been written.I have to tell you that I am loving every minute of it.

Posted by: slick | October 26, 2005 02:39 PM

I'm in Cleveland, and I can't wait to see Libby & Rove indicted along with Cheney. Then impeach Bush, because he knew that the WMD charge was bogus.

Posted by: Weezie | October 26, 2005 03:21 PM

Anyone who by intimation, mis-direction, suggestion or association reveals the identity of a CIA agent should be indicted and prosecuted it is certainly a criminal offense.

Posted by: Big Dave | October 26, 2005 03:21 PM

I'm in the midwest and i can tell you that i can't wait for something to stick to someone in this god-awful administration. our country has never been in worse shape.

Posted by: peaches | October 26, 2005 09:36 PM

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Posted by: vois.com | October 27, 2005 09:49 AM

Before you get too excited about the supposed comparisons between 1999 and current events, you might recall that the former President did the nasty AND lied about it. A distinction that makes a difference. I am amused at how thrilled the Left is at the prospect of the President's men taking a hit. Of course, had it not been for Wilson's op ed, none of us ever would have noticed the story. How ironic.

Posted by: cpower924@hotmail.com | October 27, 2005 11:59 AM

"did the nasty"? who cares? this president lied and is personally responsible for each and every death, both american and iraqi, that has followed. he and his cronies are immoral, shameful, delusional, and disgusting.

Posted by: peaches | October 27, 2005 02:55 PM

Peaches, Tell us how you really feel. Erred in failing to prepare adequately for post-invasion hostilities? I'll give you that. Received and relied on bad intel? I'll even give you that. Lied? Phuleeze, gimme a break. Who cares? I cared, the plaintiff whom Clinton sexually harassed cared, millions of parents trying to raise their children to know right from wrong cared. Your post illustrates why ad hominem attacks are never persuasive.

Posted by: Catie | October 27, 2005 03:56 PM

here's a story -
A pimp and his lady were walking down the street when they approached another couple from the opposite direction. The second man comments to his lady friend, "That woman is a prostitute." The pimp overhears this and takes offense. Guess what he does? You guessed it!! (Well maybe you didn't.) The pimp approaches the couple and sucker punches the lady, breaking her nose. As the pimp and his lady walk away, the lady says, "You know, I really am a prostitute. Why did you hit her?" The pimp says, "Yeah, I know what you are. I just wanted to show him how his words could affect his family."

Posted by: whittyone1 | October 27, 2005 05:32 PM

I read on CNN: "Even if Cheney did discuss Plame with Libby, the vice president does not appear to face legal jeopardy, according to legal experts, because both men would have been authorized to possess such classified information."

Since when does conspiracy to disclose and actual unauthorized disclosure of classified information for political or personal gain become legal?

I am surprised there is any debate that disclosing classified information may be illegal. If not, why is it classified?

Are Cheney, Libby and Rove or their supporters trying to redefine what "is classified" means? Based on the above quote, they presumably know what "classified" means. Do they not know what the meaning of "is" is? How about "it is illegal"!

Posted by: Lie Detector | October 28, 2005 12:03 AM

"received and relied on bad intel"? try "fixed the intel to justify a war." and, puleeeeze don't be equating sexual harassment with starting a war. that's a comparison so pathetic it makes my heart ache. look at the faces of the 2000 and try to convince them and their shattered families.

Posted by: peaches | October 28, 2005 12:21 AM

If you really care about raising your children correctly, to know right from wrong, then you want to establish value for truth, law, ethics, and human life.

All of these values were violated by President Bush, Cheney, and their men by: lying about WMD; lying about Wilson's claims; exposing Plame; and most importantly - launching a war killing thousands of innocent Iraqis and Americans for political, personal, and corporate gain.

Some people ask: "What was the consequence of exposing Plame?" One answer is the deaths of over 2000 innocent American soldiers and civilians, over 10,000 innocent Iraqis, and many thousands more permanently disabled soldiers and civilians on both sides.

Those were a direct consequence of a conspiracy to lie to support the war in Iraq. Plame's exposure was just one tactic in a much larger conspiracy to lie to the American people to support the war. Bush, Cheney and their men lied to us, not to protect America, but to further their political, personal and corporate agenda.

So Catie, tell your children to respect truth, ethics, and human life above loyalty to powerful men, and learn to detect and abhor lies wherever they exist.

Posted by: Lie Detector | October 28, 2005 12:30 PM

I have a real problem with the administration sucker punching Plame (by exposing her) because of something Wilson said.

That's like attacking Laura for something George does.

It just ain't right.

Posted by: whittyone1 | October 28, 2005 03:19 PM

In re Fizgerald's comments about lying under oath by Libby: How, pray tell, did he feel about Bill Clinton lying under oath. If, as he said, it is important that those high in government not be exempted from complying with the law, wouldn't the same standard apply to Clinton? And maybe moreso because of his elevated position.

tah

Posted by: flyboy | October 28, 2005 05:52 PM

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