'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Friday, January 02, 2004

Something is Happening but You Don't Know What it is (Do You, Mr. Ashcroft)

So Ashcroft has recused himself and appointed a special prosecutor to run the investigation of the Plame affair. Former spook and current thorn in the side of the Bush regime, Ray McGovern tells us not to get too excited. (Isn't Ray McGovern great? He's my new favorite character in the unfolding show that is Stuff That's in the News. When you hear him talk he just sounds the way the serious super spy veteran always sounds in a good spy movie like Three Days of the Condor or something) But I don't know ... something is happening but I don't ... I can't help but get a little excited.

There's a new article in the Wapo that Josh Marshall does a pretty good job of ripping apart. The gist of the article is that the leaker may not have committed a crime because he (I think we know it wasn't a she) may not have known that Plame was undercover. Josh's rebuttal is that the legal expert cited by the article is a known partisan Republican and, furthemore, the content of the legal expert's argument doesn't constitute so much of a refutation that a crime was committed but a sketch of a legal defense that could (and maybe shall be) used in court, and then goes on to show why it is reasonable to believe the leaker knew he was outing an agent even if it would be difficult to prove. Anyway, go read the whole thing if you haven't already and then come back here because I have something to add.

Since the whole the-leaker-didn't-know-she-was-undercover meme is being propagated by a Bush cartel mouthpiece I think we can assume this is going to be the party line. The problem I see with the stupidity defense here is that if we assume it's true, the Plame affair no longer makes sense as a story. Look, we know from Novak's own admission that Novak was told Plame's occupation from a high-level source in the Bush administration. He didn't, for instance, look it up on the internet as he would have if he was researching a story in which it was important to know that Plame was, say, a lawyer. No, he was told Valerie Plame's occupation by someone. Let's call this someone ... oh, I don't know ... say Karl Rove ... What was Karl Rove's motive in telling Novak Plame's occupation if he didn't know the information was secret? Rove's a friendly guy, knows that reporting is a tough racket, and wanted to help out a friend who's bad at doing Google searches? Rove is a regular Chatty Kathy, likes to chew the old fat over coffee and Biscotti and gossip about the occupations of the spouses of the various characters on the Stuff That's in the News Show? I guess.

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