Canal Water Review

"To teach superstitions as truth is a most terrible thing." Hypatia "Yeah. That pretty much sucks canal water." cwr

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Points about the Plame Case

Originally published at TPMCafe as part of an ongoing discussion of elements of the Valerie Plame case.

First, in what manner is Karl Rove to be considered a whistleblower? The implication of the information provided about Wilson being sent to Niger at his wife's suggestion, while false, is that something akin to nepotism occurred so that the spouse of a government employee could get a free trip to a foreign country. For this, Rove would have needed anonymity to protect himself from retribution for being a whistleblower?

If the whole argument about "protecting sources" and the subsequent defense of Miller and Cooper for standing on principle and protecting their sources (at least until their sources give them a King's X) is based on protecting a putative whistleblower who is one of the most powerful men in the country and who in fact blew a false whistle (never mind the national security issues) regarding something that might be strongly questioned as an offense in the first place, then all those editorial writers have wasted a lot of ink and much of our time. If they want to protect whistleblowers (a good thing), I'd suggest they go find a real one (an even better thing).

Second, although the specific statute under which administration officials are liable for prosecution when "knowingly" revealing the covert status of an intelligence agent may not apply to civilians such as Ms. Miller or Mr. (I choke on the honorific) Novak, I find it hard to believe that she, for crimes we now suspect, and he, for crimes any fool would be able to identify as treason, are not somehow subject to indictment under some statute. Surely it would not be possible for me, an ordinary blogger, to go to Langley, cuddle up to someone in the know, receive information about covert operatives one way or another, and then go blab the information on my blog--or my local corporate media outlet--without being subject to some criminal penalty.

If neither I nor the two "reporters" under discussion are liable for any sort of penalty in those circumstances, I would think that Congress might want to do a little tinkering with the Patriot Act or something. After all, if it's suspicious to pay cash for a plane ticket, it's surely suspicious to publish the NOC list.

Third (and last for now), I think we ought to make a distinction between Valerie Plame and the intelligence network that she was associated with. There is some question--whether valid or not--that she was still active as a covert operative at the time her identity was revealed. Similarly, there is some question--whether valid or not--regarding how much her identity may have been an open secret in some circles. The questions seem to be used to diminish the potential for ill effect from revealing her identity. We can argue that, I suppose, but our focus seems too narrow if we consider Valerie Plame to be the only one harmed by the actions of those who decided to reveal her identity. Ongoing activities and networks were compromised when her name was used to show the link between them and the CIA. This is not about one woman--and certainly not about Joe Wilson and his wife--it's about the network.


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