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Bring Us The Two Heads

This mornings Washington Post details the current state of the probe (still in its formative stage). Heads (apparently two) will need to roll, and quickly. What this administration does not need is an inquiry that extends deep into the campaign season.

The Valerie Plame affair can go one of two ways:

1) It can be over quickly if the two administration officials responsible for the leak are quickly terminated and prosecuted.

2) It could become the Watergate/Iran Contra/MonicaGate for this administration.

As much as Democrats would like to make the "16 words" of the State of the Union an issue that sticks, value judgments and decisions based on intel information will never resonate as an issue. There will always be a way to show that Bush was acting in good faith, even if it is not to the liking of those opposed to the war. Deliberately blowing the cover of CIA agent is the kind of wrong that the voting public can understand.

Presidential history is replete with examples of small acts that have spiraled out of control and damaged presidents due to bureaucratic predilection for cover-up. At the core of the recent scandals is a singular act (break-in, document shredding, diddling an intern and lying to a grand jury about it) that resonated as "wrong". For all the time and effort expended on Whitewater, the reason it never amounted to anything damaging was that there was no "singular act" that resonated from the whole affair.

Surely this is going to be very hard for the administration to offer up the heads of two of its own, but the consequences of not doing should not be very hard to recollect. The two administration officials are looking at serious jail time too, since charges of treason are a possibility. They would be well advised to study the cases of Jim and Susan McDougall, then seriously consider some pre-emptive plea bargaining.

Update: Asymmetrical Information has more on the story, as does Glenn Reynolds.

Update2: Michele calls for names, and Donald Luskin explains that Plame's identity and occupation were not secret prior to the Novak article and lots of other nuances to the story.


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Comments (4)

Hello! It's very informativ... (Below threshold)

Hello! It's very informative and splendid page! A lot of news could be
found here. I like it for it's streght apply to the problem! Thank you
very much

Has anyone been (constructi... (Below threshold)

Has anyone been (constructively) terminated from this Administration for incompetence or malfeasance? I know that the economic team was pretty much sacked due to its insufficient zealotry in believing that the tax cuts would lead to millions of jobs... but anyone from the CIA? FBI? Justice Department? State Department? Anything gone wrong in there?

What bothers me the most ab... (Below threshold)

What bothers me the most about this affair is that the entire story is constructed by the news media using anonymous sources. In the blogosphere, we insist on links, and sources, so that we can "fact check your ass". We have done that on many occasions and revealed factual and philosophical errors, and plagerism, among other "crimes of fact". Here we have an allegation that may or may not be a crime, but with no government official on the record providing any facts. We have Bob Novak's word for the original story, and wronged husband Wilson's complaint about it, and that is all. If this were a story originating in the Internet, it would have died a long time ago for lack of sourcing. Why is it that the news media can do this, over and over with many stories, and not be called on it? It's not news if it cannot be fact checked, is it?

It's quite clear that someone may be lying here. Absent names and job titles, we cannot know who. And, of course, news people cannot be forced to name their sources by law. So where can any investigation go? An anonymous smear, originating with complaints from an avowed anti-administration source, Wilson, and not a single fact to back it up.

Your two options are good, ... (Below threshold)

Your two options are good, but only in the case that the actual situation is being described accurately. There are serious doubts about it.

If Plame is not a "classified" employee, there's no law broken, by anyone. If she was a "classified", covert employee of an intelligence agency, then it's a different matter and your solutions might be applicable.




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