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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Valerie Plame Wilson - The Curious Incident Of the Big Dogs In The Press

Mark Kleiman posts on the David Corn article we noted (in a sneaky update) last Friday.

Mr. Kleiman closes in frustration, as we stare at the stonewall of this non-advancing story:

...It's a little puzzling to me why we aren't hearing more public outrage from retired CIA officers and from the larger world of people not in the government, or no longer in the government, with credentials to make a fuss about what seems to have been an illegal, politically-inspired act damaging to the national security.

I'm thinking about people like Sam Nunn, Warren Rudman, Stansfield Turner, Anthony Zinni, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and William Cohen. ...But there's also a semi-official CIA alumni group. So far, the only prominent folks who have spoken out have been those with partisan reasons for doing so. If that doesn't change, it's likely that Team Bush will be able to bury this scandal.

Emphasis added. Now, August is a difficult time to advance a story like this - Congressmen and staffers have fled for the recess, and Washington is on vacation.

However, another explanation for the ongoing indifference comes to mind, suggested by the silence of the big dogs - maybe what "seems to have been" a scandal really is not.

Mr. Kleiman, although critical of the right half of the blogosphere for ignoring this story, has not exactly trumpeted the questions we have raised about Ambassador Wilson's own credibility challenges. We also noted, with characteristic absence of brevity, that the Ambassador's initial account of his trip to Niger was incomplete - he told the CIA, but not the Times, that he had also picked up information that Saddam was attempting to purchase uranium.

Other than Ambassador Wilson's dramatic but carefully phrased "hypotheticals", we just don't know anything about his wife's status (Yes, I read Newsday, but under the statute, part of "covert" includes an overseas posting - the CIA doesn't do domestic), or whether her disclosure really harmed national security. The NY Times and several Senators have kicked this story around, but, as Mr. Kleiman notes, many others have not.

Is this lack of interest evidence of a successful stonewall? Well, it is consistent with that, yes. But it is also consistent with a similar theory about Oakland - there is no "there" there. It is possible that folks have quietly concluded that Ambassador Wilson is not someone to whom they want to hitch their wagon.

At this point, I am balancing four non-exclusive (and probably not exhaustive) possibilities: the stonewall, the slow news month, the "no 'there' there", and "the press protects sources, it does not arrest them".

The action, or lack thereof, when Congress comes back will be revealing. Current soundtrack for this story - See You In September.

TIMELINE of Scandal

UPDATE: We will have an Ambassador Wilson sighting on Thurs., Aug 21, at a forum hosted by (anti-war) Congressman Jay Inslee. The Seattle PI has written on Wilson before, so they may break news.

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