This story has been all over the place today, and I’ve been trying to figure out where I stood on it. My first reaction was “Duh, why would he fire anyone who hasn’t broken the law…isn’t that what this whole thing has been about for two years straight?” But I was unable to read up much on it or spend time thinking about it, and as the day wore on I began to wonder if I was maybe wrong and that it should be more of a “Certainly fired if laws were broken, MAYBE fired if laws weren’t but integrity appears to have been compromised.” By this evening I was pretty sure that the second course was right, and I still am.
That being said, Bush hasn’t changed his stance on this at all.
They are lying. That is L-Y-I-N-G. To you. To me. To everyone. Including, in all likelihood, to themselves. They might not even realize it.
Lying. Lying. Lying.
Oh, what a wicked web we weave.
Yes, here’s the lead paragraph on today’s AP/MSNBC story:
President Bush said Monday that if anyone on his staff committed a crime in the CIA-leak case, that person will “no longer work in my administration.” His statement represented a shift from a previous comment, when he said that he would fire anyone shown to have leaked information that exposed the identity of a CIA officer.
And here’s a couple a bit farther down:
Bush said in June 2004 that he would fire anyone in his administration shown to have leaked information that exposed the identity of Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame. On Monday, however, he added the qualifier that it would have to be shown that a crime was committed.
Asked at a June 10, 2004 news conference if he stood by his pledge to fire anyone found to have leaked Plame’s name, Bush answered, “Yes. And that’s up to the U.S. attorney to find the facts.”
In fact, what Bush said in June 2004 was “Yes.” He was answering a question about whether he stood by his earlier statement.
The earlier statement, made in September 2003, was:
And if there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated law, the person will be taken care of. [emphasis mine]
In the oft-noted June 2004 news conference went like this:
Q Given — given recent developments in the CIA leak case, particularly Vice President Cheney’s discussions with the investigators, do you still stand by what you said several months ago, a suggestion that it might be difficult to identify anybody who leaked the agent’s name?
THE PRESIDENT: That’s up to —
Q And, and, do you stand by your pledge to fire anyone found to have done so?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. And that’s up to the U.S. Attorney to find the facts.
So this is the big shift in Bush’s policy? This is the appearance of standards qualification that launched a thousand headlines?
The more we learn about this story, the less of a story it becomes.
UPDATE: I wrote this in the comments, but as I went I decided to post it here, as well, since you’re all entitled to my opinion. (In a departure from SOP, the blockquotes aren’t quoting a outside source. They’re simply used to section it for readability.)
Well, I think this here is a two part question, itself.
Q1) Did Bush change his stance from his original statement?
A1) No, because his original statement in September 2003 was that lawbreakers would be dealt with. The fact that Bush answered “Yes” to the question in June 2004 (which probably wasn’t intentionally misleading) doesn’t change what Bush said in 2003 or the fact that he was answering “Yes” as to whether he stood by that.
This is the most immediate question and the one that the press is lying about.
However, the most IMPORTANT question is the second part.
Q2) Should Bush fire someone who leaked a CIA agent’s ID even if no laws were broken?
A2) Obviously, this is a far more complicated question and depends entirely upon the exact circumstances. I’d like to think that Americans would do the ‘right thing’ even if the ‘wrong thing’ wasn’t illegal, especially among our leadership.
Once the investigation is complete, decisions will have to be made. And if Karl Rove or anyone else did the wrong thing, it doesn’t matter if it was legal or not. Something must be done, though I think we’d all agree that the degree of action should be measured against the degree of wrongness.
The press is in such a feeding frenzy over Q1 (about which they’re completely wrong) that they aren’t bothering to ask Q2. This is where they could “get Bush” if they wanted. Not a “gotcha!” over a press conference question a year ago, but over the fact that he apparently won’t fire anyone who didn’t break the law.
Wouldn’t it be ironic if Rove has simply been manipulating Legacy Media this whole time? I mean, what better way to catch them off guard than to play the deer in the headlights?
UPDATE 2: Upon rereading what I wrote last night, I realize that I may have overreacted a bit. I’d like to make a change.
The paragraph that says:
Lying. Lying. Lying.
should be read as merely saying
Rewritten this way, my post more accurately describes my opinion on the matter.
UPDATE 3: What I’m trying to say with Q2 up there is that I can imagine many scenarios where someone who didn’t break the law should be punished. And I don’t mean ‘just if it’s Karl Rove’.