Public Nuisance

Random commentary and senseless acts of blogging.

The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
-Ronald Reagan

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Thursday, July 31, 2003
 
Josh Marshall has weighed in on the Valerie Plame Wilson story. Marshall's main advance is to confirm that Plame "formerly worked abroad under nonofficial cover and has more recently worked stateside. Her position today may be less sensitive than it was when she worked abroad. But she still works on WMD proliferation issues. " He doesn't say how he knows this, just attributing the information to "sources".

Marshall also focusses on what is still the most striking part of the story, what he calls the "awfully weaselly" response of the White House. There is clear evidence that a crime, and one seriously affecting the country's security, has been committed. A prominent Republican, known to be a supporter of the Bush administration, has publicly and explicitly said that it was committed by two senior White House officials. The Press Secretary flatly refuses to deny that senior officials have betrayed the country. The administration has no interest in investigating to see if it is true. And the media, naturally, doesn't see a story there.

Marshall writes nicely about the media's standards:

A few years back, this town sped into paroxysms over claims that the Clinton White House had used FBI files to smear its critics. Even according to Ken Starr, those charges turned out to be baseless. This outrage, on the other hand, actually happened. And, when you think about it, that sort of makes it worse.

We still don't know, and probably won't for years, just how much harm has been done. But I suspect it is greater than has been admitted. Marshall didn't offer any details, nor has anybody else, on what Plame's official job was. This leads me to believe more and more that she was working for a front company, and her exposure indirectly burned other agents working in the same front, as well as herself.

If you're tempted to believe that this administration would never put going after a political enemy ahead of the country's security, remember that they already have. In 2001, Bush officials declassified a document that clearly should have remained classified, a secret transcript of a conversation between Bill Clinton and Ehud Barak less than a year old, in order to score points by showing that Clinton was personally involved in the pardon of Marc Rich. The harm was not as severe as in this case, but the message put out, that foreign leaders can't talk to the President with confidence that their discussions will remain secret for a reasonable time, could hardly have been beneficial to the national interest.



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