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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Friday, July 25, 2003

The Valerie Plame Affair - July 26

Those who do not understand the past are doomed to watch summer re-runs. I have a theory about why the media is ignoring this affair, and with a tip from Charles Schumer, we take you back one glorious summer:

Ashcroft Demands Records of 17 Senators Probing Sept 11th. Attacks

The FBI has intensified its probe of a classified intelligence leak, asking 17 senators to turn over phone records, appointment calendars and schedules that would reveal their possible contact with reporters.

In an Aug. 7 memo passed to the senators through the Senate general counsel's office, the FBI asked all members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to collect and turn over records from June 18 and 19, 2002. Those dates are the day of and the day after a classified hearing in which the director of the National Security Agency, Lt. Gen. Michael V. Hayden, spoke to lawmakers about two highly sensitive messages that hinted at an impending action that the agency intercepted on the eve of Sept. 11 but did not translate until Sept. 12.

Important leaks, a big investigation, FBI involvement - Valerie Plame could take us right back there. And how many want to go? The media is interested in source protection, not source prosecution. And many folks express concern when John Ashcroft commences investigations in the name of national security.

Let me reprise a point I have made earlier - At this moment, journalists are attempting to cajole their sources into divulging classified information about the October NIE, only portions of which were released; and the 9/11 report, portions of which dealing with the Saudi connection were redacted.

These leaks would, I suspect, represent felonies, and, one might imagine, compromise national security. Yet the press, and at least some of the public, want these leaks. For Aschcroft and/or the Congress to clamp down on the Valerie Plame leakers without clamping down on this seems unlikely.

Be careful what you wish for.
Glenn Reynolds commented last summer, as did Atrios.

UPDATE: This, from the NY Times, is what I am talking about:

Classified Section of Sept. 11 Report Faults Saudi Rulers


WASHINGTON, July 25 — Senior officials of Saudi Arabia have funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to charitable groups and other organizations that may have helped finance the September 2001 attacks, a still-classified section of a Congressional report on the hijackings says, according to people who have read it.

The 28-page section of the report was deleted from the nearly 900-page declassified version released on Thursday by a joint committee of the House and Senate intelligence committees. The chapter focuses on the role foreign governments played in the hijackings, but centers almost entirely on Saudi Arabia, the people who saw the section said.

Who thinks we should call Ashcroft?

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