Thursday, October 02, 2003

Scapegoating and deniability
Some recent random thoughts on l’affaire Plame. The Busheviks and their fellow-travelers are rolling out their offensive defense against the claims that one of their own endangered national security by outing a CIA employee engaged in something having to with weapons of mass destruction.

So far a few Republican and conservative commentator talking points have emerged:

As far as action is concerned, the White House will not lift a finger until the Justice Department (led by someone whose pay check they sign) specifically orders them to. They call this “leaving it to the professionals.” I call it stonewalling, but I’m a professional Bush-hater (actually, I’m an amateur, but if someone would like to pay me, I’m available at very competitive rates. References and writing samples are available on request).

According to the New York Times:
The Bush administration pursued a two-track political strategy on Wednesday to minimize the damage from the criminal investigation into the disclosure of a C.I.A. officer's identity.
The White House encouraged Republicans to portray the former diplomat at the center of the case, Joseph C. Wilson IV, as a partisan Democrat with an agenda and the Democratic Party as scandalmongering. At the same time, the administration and the Republican leadership on Capitol Hill worked to ensure that no Republicans in Congress break ranks and call for an independent inquiry outside the direct control of the Justice Department.
"It's slime and defend," said one Republican aide on Capitol Hill…

I’m not the first to say this, but let’s be crystal clear on this, Joseph Wilson is no longer the issue. The right wing of the body political are acting like a bunch of five-year-olds after a playground fight in even thinking about offering this excuse (he hit me first). It doesn’t mater if Wilson is a reptilian kitten-eating alien, that doesn’t make it okay to commit a felony and compromise national security.

The same criticism goes for the various semantic parsings of Valerie Plame’s job significance. If exposing her against the law, her job description does not excuse it. Besides, we can spend all night debating the significance of whether she was an agent, operative, or analyst; covert or not; known to “everybody in the D.C. media circuit or not; it isn’t up to a majority vote among us to determine whether outing her raises this to the level of a crime or a problem. The CIA know who she is and what she does. If they feel this is worthy of an investigation, we really can’t argue until they give us more information. I say this as a fan of the Church Committee and long-time baiter of the intelligence community. Until they give us more information, we have no choice but to go along with their assessment. And, as a bleeding heart liberal and intellectual “elite” (shudder), it’s my duty to point out that all of this diminishing of Plame’s significance stinks to high heaven of sexism: “She couldn’t have known anything important ‘cause she’s just a girl.”

Attacking Wilson and diminishing Plame are efforts to control the debate by framing the issue. The immediate issue is whether someone in the administration broke the law by outing a CIA employee who was covered by the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. The larger issues are the general lack of character of the administration and its supporters—their dishonesty, secrecy, cronyism, and viciousness—and their attempts to politicize intelligence at the expense of real national security. Do not let them distract us into arguing over irrelevant side issues.

No comments: