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Thursday, July 24, 2003

The Valerie Plame Wilson Affair - July 24

Some days there is very little news, and other days there is none. Today, the Washington Post joins the hunt, sort of. In an on-line chat, Joel Achenbach, Washington Post Staff Writer, says this in response to, basically, where is the coverage of the Novak-Plame scandal:

Joel Achenbach: I don't think they're going to throw Novak in jail for that, no. Nor are they likely to beat the bushes at the White House to see who Novak's source was.

Well, the media prefers its sources to feel chatty and expansive. If one consequence of the sort of investigation that would resolve this is a silent White House, journalists, at least collectively, may prefer to let this go.

As we speak (type?) it is likely that reporters are begging their Washington sources to release the parts of last October's NIE that we have not yet seen. Doing so might serve the national interest, as was argued with the Pentagon Papers. But it occurs to the assembled staff of "Just One Minute" that such a leak would be a felony.

If John Ashcroft were to have a press conference where he announced that the Justice Deparatment took all such allegations seriously, and would aggressively pursue any leaks that might compromise national security in any way, I suspect there would be howls from many of the same people calling for a more aggressive ivestigation of the Plame incident. [ed. - More aggressive investigation? What would less aggressive look like?]

Should the press hound the White House over a possibly criminal leak in the Plame affair while begging their sources for a criminal leak of the NIE? (Or the Saudi section of the 9/11 report?) Headspinning, even for me. Us. Whoever.

So, the New Motto, until we veer of in yet another direction - These guys walk, so others will talk.

[Mini-Update: "Cynical assertion"? How about "Glum prognosis"? But, with reader support, the sun will come out tomorrow! ]

So, let's lead, here at the bottom, with the Don Luskin piece. I think I can safely say that few folks out there would characterize Mr. Luskin as a Dem sympathizer. However, he has made a few phone calls to his "Washington contacts", and tells us:

...This story is just not going to go away, despite the big-press silence this week. Based on my conversations in the last 36 hours with Washington contacts, here's how I'm very sure it's going to turn out -- and it will hinge on two key questions.

Was Plame really a covert operative? Yes, but this will be difficult to officially confirm and there will be debates as to just how covert she really was, and what real harm was done by outing her.

Who outed her, the White House or the CIA? Both.

...I think [some right wing blogger - go read the piece] may be trying a bit too hard to put the best face on what is, in fact, an incident of some importance, and one that does not exactly cover anyone with glory.

OK, Messrs. Novak and Luskin, neither known as being Dem partisans, say we have both Admin sources, and CIA sources. Mr. Luskin explains how the Administration might wriggle away, depending on what the meaning of "covert" is, and we get a bit of insight into just how covert Ms. Wilson was from the post below. But he is not pretending this is no big deal.

Mark Kleiman and the Cal Pundit comment, as we wait for Godot.

The President traveled, so instead of a formal briefing, there was a press gaggle. Jolly. Nothing on this.

TIMELINE of Scandal

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