Carpetbagger (and Waas, and LAT) on the Latest Plame Scuttlebutt

The Carpetbagger does a good job of tying together several recent items (by Murray Waas, in the Villlage Voice and on his ‘whatever already!’ weblog, and by Richard B. Schmitt in the LA Times) that speculate on what’s happening behind the scenes in the Plame-outing investigation. I’d intended to link to all of them, but now I can just link to the Carpetbagger: Rove and Ashcroft and Fitzgerald… oh my.

One thing he didn’t quote from Waas’ Village Voice piece is this part, near the end, which discusses the current status of James B. Comey, the deputy attorney general who has been in charge of Fitzgerald since John Ashcroft recused himself:

Comey, then only recently named deputy attorney general, called a press conference and dramatically announced: “Effective today, the attorney general has recused himself . . . from further involvement in these matters.”

He also said he was naming Patrick J. Fitzgerald, who also serves as U.S. attorney in Chicago, as special prosecutor to take over the case. To further assure his independence, Comey also announced that he personally would serve as “acting Attorney General for purposes of this matter.”

Last week, however, Comey announced he was leaving the Justice Department to become the general counsel of the defense contractor Lockheed Martin. In his absence, Associate Attorney General Robert McCallum is the most likely choice to be named as the acting deputy attorney general, and thus the man overseeing Fitzgerald’s work. But McCallum has been a close personal friend of President Bush. Justice Department officials are once more grappling as to how to best assure independence for investigators. And Democrats on Capitol Hill are unlikely not to question any role in the leak probe by McCallum.

This sends a bit of a chill down my spine. It would be just like the Bush/Rove political juggernaut — or at least just like my paranoid nightmares of their Machiavellian omnipotence — for them to have manipulated things behind the scenes to put their own man in charge of the investigation just as Fitzgerald is nearing the point of announcing indictments, and to have the whole thing then just go poof! and disappear.

I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.

22 Responses to “Carpetbagger (and Waas, and LAT) on the Latest Plame Scuttlebutt”

  1. TeacherVet Says:

    It is suspicious, almost as much as Jamie Gorelick’s participation on the 9/11 Commission and the lack of discussion/investigation into the Able Danger omission from the Commission’s report.

    Interest in the Plame affair does seem to be abating, seemingly following the pattern of the many other trumped-up charges over the last several years. We are left to wonder, when the Plame-outing charge fails, which administration figure will be the object of the next attack.

    Many other items of temporary significance have seemingly died on the vine, including the Oil for Food scandal, the aforementioned Gorelick and Able Danger debacles, the Sandy Berger thefts, the Watergate-style burglaries of various Republican offices, the ballot-stuffing episodes in predominantly Democrat voting areas in the 2004 election, etc.

    This might be an appropriate time for a variation of the familiar Rodney King quote, but none of us can hope to find out what could be accomplished with a spirit of cohesiveness.

  2. jbc Says:

    TeacherVet, you must get your information from some pretty cool sources.

    In what sense can the Plame affair be attributed to “trumped-up charges”?

  3. TeacherVet Says:

    Valerie Plame’s cover was blown with Russia in the mid-90s, then again with Cuba (by the CIA itself in both instances), well prior to printed articles identifying her. That surely explains why she has not been used in espionage for several years, coming and going from CIA headquarters at Langley (where I used to work). Her work was not secret, nor was her work place. Wilson surely knew all of that, but he was a political opportunist.

    The information came from a Congressional deposition submitted by the print media, led by the NY Times. How can her cover be blown, when she had no cover? After filing the deposition, the NY Times then persisted in leading a charge that it knew to be false. If any laws were broken, they were breached by the CIA about a decade ago.

    My previous question was: After this falls through, who is next on the attack list?

  4. jbc Says:

    So, your theory is that there’s some kind of vast left-wing conspiracy operating within the bowels of the CIA and Justice Department? Since if she wasn’t under cover, there was no crime (at least under the statute people talk about most often in connection with this). So, um, why the investigation? And what could Joe Wilson’s alleged political opportunism possibly have to do with any of this? Is there some hitherto-secret provision in the relevant law that exempts outings of undercover agents from the law’s reach in cases where the outed agent is married to someone who takes advantage of political opportunities?

    If your first paragraph is logically challenged, the second is even harder to make sense of. What information came from a Congressional deposition? What are you talking about? Pretend your audience hasn’t been reading all the Powerline/FreeRepublic ranting you appear to be mainlining, and try to talk in terms that an ordinary, politically-aware fellow citizen can follow.

  5. Sven Says:

    TV: Perhaps you should give Fitzgerald a call. Judith Miller might appreciate your testimony, since from what you say it would have kept her out of jail.

  6. TeacherVet Says:

    Sven, the report to Congress by the NY Times was an effort to keep her out of jail, so that testimony has already been given.

    John, I have no problem with an investigation, but it is merely that (an investigation) at this point. I do have a problem with convicting and evicting before the investigation has been completed.

    I don’t understand what is so hard to follow. She was “outed” a decade ago by the CIA itself, making it impossible to “blow her cover” again. She was not currently involved in operations, and the law stipulates that she must be for it to be applicable. I recognize the desperation that has led to the charges against Rove, but I will give 10 to 1 odds to anyone that he will be vindicated.

    The original question still stands: Who’s next?

  7. jbc Says:

    If the original question still stands, it might have something to do with the fact that it’s vague and speculative, while your characterizations of here-and-now events, which you imply are the basis of your concern about what will happen next, come off like paranoid conspiracy theories with little or no basis in reality.

    Let’s focus in on just one point as an example. You write, “She was not currently involved in operations, and the law stipulates that she must be for it to be applicable.” I’m going to assume you’re talking about the Intelligence Identities and Protection Act of 1982 (leaving aside for the current discussion whether Rove, Libby, and others might have violated other laws in connection with this, such as the Espionage Act and perjury laws).

    But this statement of yours is just flat-out wrong. The law actually reads:


    (4) The term “covert agent” means–

    (A) a present or retired officer or employee of an intelligence agency or a present or retired member of the Armed Forces assigned to duty with an intelligence agency–

    (i) whose identity as such an officer, employee, or member is classified information, and

    (ii) who is serving outside the United States or has within the last five years served outside the United States…

    [done. see:

    Now, it’s perfectly legitimate to argue that Valerie Wilson hadn’t served outside the United States within the past 5 years at the time of Rove et al’s disclosure of her identity, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if that ended up forming part of the leakers’ defense, assuming they’re actually indicted. (But note again that this isn’t necessarily the only law they might have violated.)

    But I come back to your statement that “the law stipulates that she must be [currently involved in operations] for it to be applicable.” Where did you hear that? It’s obviously a source that can’t be trusted. By using such sources without bothering to check out the truth of the matter, you put yourself in the same category.

    It’s tempting, I realize, to restrict your information diet to information that matches your preconceptions. But it’s like a steady diet of ice cream: Sure, it tastes great going down. But it doesn’t offer much nutritional value.

    Plus, it makes you fat.

  8. TeacherVet Says:

    I don’t think the question is vague, since the next attack is surely in the planning stages. Each of the previous (numerous) attacks that have faded were quickly followed by another charge.

    Lee Hamilton admitted that the Able Danger info was not included in the 9/11 Commission report because it did not match the conclusions they had already reached. Somehow, I don’t feel isolated as an individual who restricts his information diet to information matching my preconceptions.

  9. TeacherVet Says:

    Perhaps Rove will be charged and found guilty of something. I disagree with the calls for his firing (and worse) until the proper courses of investigation and prosecution have run their course. If he is found guilty of violations, I support any punishment due him. I’m quite certain that chain of events is constitutionally founded…something about “innocent until proven guilty.”

  10. Rise Against Says:

    Hey TeacherVet, long time no speak!

    Like I said in previous posts on this matter, anyone, let alone a senior administration official, who leaks classified information should be a major concern to any American, red or blue. To stick up for him simply for political reasons is doing a massive disservice to American military personel.

    It is funny though, when I switch on the “Ultraliberal Media” every night that I hear more about that missing girl in Aruba than I do about any of this or all the other meaningful events going on right now.

  11. TeacherVet Says:

    It is a major concern. If Rove, or anyone else, is found guilty, the punishment should be swift and severe. Due process, however, exists for our protection. That is not sticking up for Rove for political reasons.

    There have been calls for Rove to be severely punished before the process has run its course, contrary to constitutional guarantees. Can I not logically assume that those demands are made for political reasons?

  12. jbc Says:

    Well, whether or not he’s guilty of a particular crime or crimes in connection with this, we can already be reasonably sure 1) that Rove communicated classified information to people not authorized to receive it, and 2) that administration spokespeople made misleading public statements about his involvement. This is based simply on the public statements of Rove, his lawyer, and other administration officials.

    Please note, too, that this is not just a matter of having done something that merely looked bad, and constituted a betrayal of marital vows and the dignity of the office of president (I refer of course to Clinton’s infidelity with Monica Lewinsky), which only rose to the status of illegality when a prosecutor compelled Clinton to testify under oath about the acts, and he committed perjury. This is an act that was pretty obviously undertaken for self-serving political purposes, and constituted (at least potentially) very real harm to US national security.

    True, until or unless Rove is convicted of a crime, the US public has no business presuming his guilt. But while the constitution guarantees Rove a right to be presumed innocent, it in no way confers on him a right to hold a high appointed position in the executive branch when his actions demonstrate such blatant unsuitablity for holding such a position.

    If Bush were an honest, responsible president, he would already have demanded Rove’s resignation. I’m not expecting him to do that anytime soon, of course, but that’s because I don’t believe Bush to be an honest, responsible president. Anyone who wants to maintain that he is honest and responsible, however, has some real problems in accounting for his continued employment of Rove. And anyone who was critical of Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal, but who now defends Rove’s actions, even if only to the extent of saying, “well, let’s wait and see what a judge and jury decides before criticizing him,” is being, in my view, a hypocrite.

  13. TeacherVet Says:

    John, again I have no problem with the criticism, but only with sentencing him prior to the conviction.

    Due to the consistent references to the Clinton/Lewinski episode, I feel quite safe in assuming the current string of attacks are intended as retribution for the actions of Repubs at that time.

    I think charges should be brought against the current president (impeachment), after which we live with the results (as we did with Clinton), but I doubt the attacks would cease.

    Perhaps a majority of the American voters will fall in love with hatred and vindictiveness, the predominant characteristics of today’s “peaceful” left. That’s unlikely, and, if not, the Democrat Party is destined for at least another 30 years of drought.

  14. Rise Against Says:

    TV, I also have a problem with convivting and evicting before an investigation is completed.

    If only the people in charge would have left the weapons inspectors in Iraq alone to complete their investigation into WMD maybe thousands wouldn’t have had to needlessley die.

    That being said, Rove should step aside until the investigation is completed. If I was accused of stealing money or trade secrets from work, do you think my boss would keep me on while I was being investigated, would any boss?

  15. TeacherVet Says:

    I agree, almost totally, but for a notable extenuating circumstance. This is an administration that has been under constant attack by desperate people, and all of the other “certain” scandals have disappeared. With this simply being another in a lengthy series, I can understand why Bush would wait for due process to be completed before taking any action.

    The Left has “cried wolf” so many times that their cries are being ignored. It is much like the once-somewhat convincing criticism of all Republican candidates as being ignorant. In my memory, that claim began with Eisenhower, and has been used on every Republican candidate since. After awhile, the redundancy rendered it meaningless. One begins to wonder about the “smarts” in the self-proclaimed party of intellectual superiority when they continue to repeat the same laughable mistakes for decades.

    RE the weapons inspectors, can you remember anyone setting a deadline for the end of the process? I suspect it would still be going on today if the profitting inspectors, themselves, had their way.

    If the people in charge in Iraq had left the weapons inspectors alone to complete their investigation, unobstructed, the investigation would have been completed prior to the conflict. If the police came to my property to search for illegal contraband, and were forced to operate under my conditions, I could hide just about anything.

    Saddam had no reason to cooperate fully. He obviously trusted the countries that had vested interests in his continued reign, via Oil for Palaces or whatever, to block enforcement of the many (meaningless, if not enforced) UN resolutions. Those supposed “allies” of ours failed in their efforts to protect Saddam and their own investments. Too bad, Mr. Hussein. I feel no pity for Saddam, and I wish JFK’s venture into Cuba had yielded the same result with another folk hero of the left, Fidel Castro.

  16. Rise Against Says:

    I do agree with your cry wolf statement. I don’t know who’s to blame for that, though. The Left for questioning all those shady events, or the Right for actually producing them. And people are desparate, to save their country.

    You say they the inspectors were obtructed, but is it their fualt that there was no weapons to find? Why the rush for war? We already the admin new beforehand that Iraq didn’t have WMD via the Downing St. memo. This was a war of choice, turns out it was a pretty costly, and deadly choice.

    Its kind of like being in a relationship where you are constantly being lied to. After awhile, you just don’t trust the person at all.

  17. TeacherVet Says:

    But, it seems, the Downing Street memo indicts the administration only by the use of a single word, “fixed,” and that word doesn’t always have the same meaning – either in Britain or in the U.S.

    A funny “aside,” but one which exemplifies my point. A band of the Royal Guard toured the U.S. a few years ago, and the band leader was invited to speak at a meeting of our local Ladies Club. The ladies asked lots of questions of the Englishman, including, “How do you like to spent your leisure time?” His response, “I like to sit on a creek bank, fishing and getting pissed.”

    The ladies were flabbergasted at the language in such a formal setting, and the speaker didn’t understand their response. Having spent some time in London as an entertainer, I interjected, explaining that “getting pissed” is their expression for drinking alcoholic beverages, especially beer. The “King’s English” is often quite different from the Americanized version of the same language. When touring that country, I am provided a lengthy list of words that have different meanings, some of which I am advised to avoid. It sounds strange to many of us, but my wife asked asked for the location of a “drug store” in London, and the local bobbies had lots of questions for us.

    There is validity to the argument that “fixed” would probably have been replaced by a more clarifying word if the writer had known that his memo would be made available for public consumption (and interpretation). If he had meant to use “fixed” in the way many of us have chosen to interpret it (again, in an official, public document), surely he wouldn’t have used such a vague, flippant term. I could certainly be wrong, but the British don’t usually have a penchant for flippancy in their language usage.

  18. jbc Says:

    Um, wrong and wrong.

    There are oodles of damning things in the Downing Street Memo (and more damning things in the additional similar documents that have also been leaked) besides the use of the word “fixed.”

    And I’m perfectly willing to stipulate that it was used in this case in the metaphorical sense of “being bolted on” rather than the sense of a crooked sporting event being “fixed”. The way the word is follwed by “around the policy” certainly seems to incline that way. But that doesn’t actually buy you much in your attempts to defend Bush: Even interpreted that way, it’s still a very damning piece of evidence.

    Think about it (or don’t; you’re clearly disinclined to): The head of British intelligence, recently returned from meeting with people like George Tenet in Washington, reports to Tony Blair that as of July 2002 the Bush team is making deliberate efforts to bolster their case for war with Iraq by cherrypicking intelligence reporting and arranging it in the way that will best convince the world that Saddam’s WMD are a credible, grave, and growing threat.

    Given what we now know about how wrong that interpretation turned out to be, and the horrific (and steadily mounting) costs of the Bush team having succeeded in launching their war of choice on such flimsy evidence, how can you continue to defend that?

    It really boggles my mind.

  19. Rise Against Says:

    Not to mention that the memo was only the most obvious peice of evidence. Those of us that can see through the bs, new that 2 years ago.

    Getting pissed means the same thing in Canada as it does in Britain.

    So does fixed.

  20. TeacherVet Says:

    John, neither of us would make good jurors in this case, because we both look at both sides of every issue…then choose the one that fits our preconceived notion.

    You might doubt that I look at both sides of issues, but that is the reason I visit and contribute opinions on this site. I also visit daily (and other similar sites), although solely to glean knowledge from the minds on the outer fringes, since they don’t offer your generous opportunity to share dialogue. I’m certainly not here to change minds, but (almost) every time I post an opinion, I learn something useful in the counter-response.

    Rise Against, “fixed” has many meanings. I still assert that it was an uncharacteristically flippant term, applied almost recklessly because the memo was not written for public consumption.

  21. TeacherVet Says:

    I’ve no doubt that the Bush team carefully chose – or cherry-picked, if you prefer – the intelligence that they thought would be of greatest value, in their attempt to create a coalition to enforce the numerous U.N. resolutions that had been ignored by Saddam over a number of years. (Sorry. Having been sick, I’m too bleary-eyed to find a place for appropriate punctuation, and that seems to be a terrible run-on sentence.) In that attempt, would it make sense to use intelligence that was less convincing?

    I also have no doubt that the Bush team was determined to go to war against Saddam if he didn’t comply with the last U.N. resolution.

    If those two principles, or actions, are wrong, then I agree that the Bush team is guilty as charged – but I don’t believe they are wrong.

    Saddam was evasive, and refused to comply with U.N. resolutions. Some of the nations that agreed with the resolutions refused to enforce them, and we made only the strongest arguments available in our efforts to sway them. Those nations even agreed with the arguments, but wanted seemingly unlimited time extensions on enforcement – all the while, profiting from the Saddam regime.

    With each additional U.N. resolution that was not enforced, Saddam quite naturally assumed that his security was ensured. There seemed to be no end to the meaningless resolutions or the inspections. For me, and for the Bush team, the phrase “enough is enough” comes to mind.

    The French agreed with the intelligence damning Saddam. The Russians agreed. Many of the Democrat leaders in congress agreed. And, the intelligence information given all of them was complete, not cherry-picked. If anyone is at fault for the eventual enforcement of resolutions, it is the man who refused to comply – Saddam Hussein.

    Realistically, the entire effort to blame it all on the Bush team is false. I believe the entire antiwar effort is merely a vindictive anti-administration effort. It is, visibly, pay-back based on the frustration of three things: the Clinton impeachment, the failed election of 2000, and three decades of increased losses in general elections. Is it healthy for this country? I think not, although it probably feels good.

    Democrats are faced with a serious dilemma, as Pat Buchanan said only yesterday on If this war ends successfully, Republicans will get the credit. If it ends badly, Bush will be gone, but antiwar Democrats will be blamed for having cut and run, for losing the war, and for the disastrous consequences in the Persian Gulf and Arab world. That reality only adds to the frustration, and the self-inflicting (politically) wounds continue.

  22. jbc Says:

    Many of the Democrat leaders in congress agreed. And, the intelligence information given all of them was complete, not cherry-picked.

    Actually, that’s incorrect. Read the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on pre-war intelligence to find out about the “complete” 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, and (especially) the October 2002 “White Paper” produced by George Tenet’s office to inform congressional leaders on the eve of the Iraq war resolution vote. The NIE was classified, such that only a small number of people in Congress saw it. The unclassified White Paper, which is what most congresspeople got to see, was dramatically more one-sided (and inaccurate) in its statements than the NIE (which itself was deeply flawed, according to the committee’s report).

    On the issue of the late-2002, early-2003 UN votes and inspections, you don’t get to have it both ways. If you want to cite UN resolutions and criticisms of Saddam as justification for the invasion, you are inevitably undercut by the fact that in the spring of 2003 the UN security council lined up against the US invasion. Blix said the inspections were working, and should be given more time. ElBaradei said the US documents alleging Saddam was attempting to restart his nuclear program were “crude forgeries.” Faced with the reality that the most strenuous US efforts to beg, buy, or coerce Security Council votes had left us not only short of the unanimous approval we needed, but short of even the simple majority that would provide some sort of face-saving political cover for a non-sanctioned invasion, the US withdrew its resolution.

    The French and the Russians (and the Germans, and the Belgians, and the Chinese) might well have agreed that the evidence suggested Saddam still possed some sort of WMD capability. But they all argued forcefully against an invasion. You can say that they were motivated by self-interest (when is a nation not motivated by self-interest?). The reality is, the public reasons they offered at the time — that an invasion would be counter-productive, and would lead to an increase, not a decrease, in the risk of terrorism — have been vindicated by subsequent events. Global terrorism is up — way up — in the wake of the Iraq invasion. The occupation of Iraq has turned into exactly what Chirac warned it would turn into: An Algeria-like quagmire that is harmful to our national interests.

    I think I’m pretty much done responding to this sort of thing for the time-being. I appreciate that you come around here and offer your perspective. Please feel free to continue to do so. And I encourage you to continue looking at a broad array of information sources.

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