It appears that it matters what you mean by “appears”

President appears to qualify standard for firing in CIA-leak case

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?

That’s pathetic.

The more we learn about this story, the less of a story it becomes.

Even when they lie. (via Just One Minute via Instapundit)

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

Lying. Lying.

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’.

Comments

  1. When Bush said he’d fire someone, he was reading the same news stories we were reading. The stories said Bush administration sources had intentionally ‘outed’ a ‘top secret,’ ‘undercover’ CIA agent, exposing her and her colleagues to danger in order to get even with Joseph Wilson, the top-secret, undercover agent’s husband. Well, there’s no evidence so far that these administration officials believed Valerie Plame was a top secret, undercover agent. In fact, she probably was not an undercover agent at the time. The original July 2003 Robert Novak column mentions nothing about a ‘top-secret’ or ‘undercover’ agent, but only a CIA ‘operative.’ For the same reasons, there’s also no evidence these officials were trying to expose Plame to danger as revenge against Wilson, who publicly had challenged President Bush’s claim the Iraqis had tried to buy uranium in Africa. Of course, if it turns out Plame really was an undercover agent, and Rove or someone else knew that, and intentionally released her name to put her in danger, that leaker should not only be fired, he might be tried for treason. So far, the only thing we’re sure about is that Joseph Wilson in 2002 did find some mild evidence (the former Niger prime minister’s word for it) that the Iraqis did indeed make an overture to buy uranium. And yet Wilson has said just the opposite publicly.

  2. A – 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. B – On Monday, however, he added the qualifier that it would have to be shown that a crime was committed.’ Issue per the statment in paragraph A. To break the law in question someone would have to leak the identity of Wilson’s wife. Issue per the statement in paragraph B. This statment is false, as paragraph A defines the particular crime. Example of the logic used: Bush said in June 2004 that he would fire anyone in his administration shown to have ordered the death of Jimmy Haffa. On Monday, however, he added the qualifier that it would have to be shown that a murder was committed.

  3. One more time. We might agree. President Bush, referring to his September 2003 statement that he would ‘take care of’ anyone in his administration who had ‘violated law’ in the Plame-Wilson affair, said in June 2004 that ‘yes,’ he would ‘stand by’ what he said in September 2003 (‘take care of’ law violators). But his ‘yes’ answer to a two-part question also could have been taken to say ‘yes,’ he would fire anyone found to have ‘leaked the agent’s name.’ Again, most ‘in the know’ in June 2004 were assuming that ‘the agent’ was an ‘undercover agent.’ Beyond that, there’s the question of whether any official actually leaked Valerie Plame’s ‘name.’ Bush certainly wasn’t saying he’d fire anyone simply for naming someone’s wife, if naming her was harmless. Providing her name (or the fact she was Joseph Wilson’s wife) wasn’t a firing offense. Providing her identity as an undercover CIA agent (if she was) could have been. If Plame had been an undercover CIA agent and she were exposed intentionally as an undercover CIA agent, that revelation would have been a crime.

  4. 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?

  5. James: Murder is illegal, and we all know it. Ordering someone murdered is also illegal, and we all know it. Leaking Plame’s ID, if that’s even what happened, may not have been illegal, so the comparison to murder scenarios might not stand up. That’s what the investigation needs to determine. And, FWIW, I don’t necessarily agree with the policy that only lawbreakers will be dealt with. I can imagine many scenarios where the wrong thing was done while no laws were broken, and in many of those I’d want the offender dealt with.

  6. I’m not a huge fan of Bush or Rove, but I would like to find out WHAT HAPPENED before deciding who should fire who and when. Was a law broken? We don’t know yet. Was there an ethical violation but no law broken? We don’t know yet. Was this underhanded political payback? Frankly, we don’t even know that yet.

  7. Murdoc – On leaking her name as a CIA operative. The is it legal or not is a Clintonian dodge. Yes, technically, to be guilty you have to knowingly revealed the identity of an agent, that you knew was undercover. This is an extremely hard law to enforce, as it forces the prosecutor to determine what someone knew and when. Chances are, Karl Rove will never be prosecuted of breaking this law. In this case however, the law is not the issue, it is the appearance to breaking the law. Most american’s would damn Rove, if it turns out that he revealed her name and occuaption, and would not care about the ‘knowingly’ clause. It’s like Clinton’s on what is the meaning of ‘is’. Fancy foot work, while legally effective, is politically suicidal. With respect to murder. It’s only a crime, when the person killed is deemed to have some right to life. For example: I recall that a CIA operative was ordered to go to Afganistan and bring back Bin Laden’s head in ice chest, and put his lieutents heads on pikes. The sounds alot like murder to me.

  8. I think we can all agree that revealing someone’s name and occupation is not necessarily unethical or illegal. Before you get to ethics or law, you have to know at least three things: Is the person revealing another person’s name and occupation for a bad reason? Is the revelation likely to do the ‘outed’ person harm? And, on the law, is revealing a certain person’s name and occupation illegal? If you’re just trying to explain something, like who in the Hell sent that liar Joseph Wilson to Niger to ask about yellowcake, that seems legitimate. If being a plain CIA agent is a shameful thing, you’d have to have second thoughts about revealing that someone is a CIA agent. But in the United States, at least, being a CIA agent is not generally a shameful thing. If you know the person is an UNDERCOVER agent likely to be in danger if you release her name, then the revelation would be highly unethical. And it would be illegal. The ethics isn’t related to Valerie Plame’s name. The ethics is related to whether someone intended her harm. The law is based on her being an undercover agent and the ‘outer’ knowing that blowing her cover can put her in danger.

  9. I think we can all agree that revealing someone’s name and occupation is not necessarily unethical or illegal.’ In general you are correct. In this case, the revealing of her name and occupation is not just possibly illegal, it is also plain stupid. At issue, is that you are putting out to the world that an ambassador’s wife is a CIA agent. By broadcasting that state department officals dependents are CIA spies, puts all of the dependents at risk. Be it real or immagined, now those conspiracy addicts, are going to lump dependents into the basket of those CIA evil spies. And as we all know, you cannot disprove a negative. Simply put, reguardless of the statements legality, Karl Rove is guilty of stupidity. 1) Guilty of the Nixon Sin: The cover up is worse then the crime. If Karl would of come forth right away instead of ducking for a year and hanging the press secretary out to dry, this issue would died a quick and meaningless death. 2) Guilty of the Clinton Sin: Fancy legal footwork , is great for the court of law, but sucks in the court of public opinion. Again, personal accountability would have resulted in minor political fallout. Worse case is that Bush would of fired him (greater pr) and he would have to act from the shadows till his reputation was improved. 3) Guilty of making state department dependents life just a tad more difficult. I remember times when we had to live while being prepared to be evacuated at any time due to ‘natives being restless’. That was bad enough, but if the natives think I work for the CIA, that would not good thing.