I’m nonplussed

I freely and readily admit to being at a loss over the Plame thing. Scooter Libby has been indicted, but as far as I can tell, it’s only over things he said and did during the investigation, not for any wrongdoing related directly to the disclosure of Valerie Plame’s status as a secret agent for the CIA. (If I’m wrong, please correct me…I make no claims to being anything approaching knowledgeable about legal procedures and the terminology associated with them.)

The media remains hopeful that Karl Rove and/or other will still be indicted, a hope that made my local newspaper’s front page top row all the way across the page. But no bias, mister. No sirree.

Anyway, so far we’ve got a senior aide to the VP indicted. But no one has been charged with anything directly related to the leaking of Plame’s ID or even with doing it as retaliation against her husband Joseph Wilson. Which was the whole point.

Don’t get me wrong. Not only do I think that the charges against ‘Scooter’ Libby are serious and that he should be punished appropriately if found guilty, but I’m skeptical that his missteps and misdeeds are all the dirt that’s to be found in the administration’s laundry here. Libby resigned immediately, which is good. I believe that this counts as “out of the administration”, though others doubtlessly disagree.

Still, the fact that two years and millions of dollars have not produced more than this is more than a little telling. While not giving anyone a free pass, more than two years of breathless headlines and countless calls for Rove’s head (and even Cheney’s resignation) seem a little silly today.

At Mass this morning, our priest compared today’s rants by the opposing political parties to the rants during the Clinton/Lewinsky affair, and his point was that when the shoes were on the other feet, the positions were different. As today’s subject at church was hypocrisy, this is a valid point and is something that should trouble people a lot more than it apparently does.

(As a side note, after our priest outlined the various positions held at various times by the various political parties, he asked what that made the politicians. A lot in the congregation said “CROOKS!”, even though the answer the priest was looking for was “hypocrites”. No argument here.)

But I’d like MO’s readers to recall the careful eye the media kept on that witch-hunter Ken Starr during his investigation, including the time and dollars spent. I’ve not been following the Plame thing for some time, but I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a similar story about Special Investigator Patrick Fitzgerald. I’m sure that some mention has been made, generally in Right-leaning outlets. And I don’t know how the dollar amounts compare.

A bigger difference, though, is the lucky recipient of the indictment. If the lone winner in the last administration had been Al Gore’s senior adviser, it wouldn’t have mattered enough to enough people to make it worthy of mention in this morning’s homily in church. Even if he had been convicted.

At this point, I don’t find this story any more interesting than I did a week ago. Until more information is available, there doesn’t seem to be much point in debating it. That hasn’t stopped anyone so far, though.


  1. 1) In all of American history, Cheney is the VP who has been most involved in his administration. Therefore it is more newsworthy if his senior aide did something wrong than if Gore’s senior aid did something wrong. 2) I find it interesting to see a conservative discounting the outcome of an expensive, years-long investigation where the only outcome is a perjury charge. I don’t recall your opinion of the Clinton impeachment, but I don’t see why this investigation — triggered by a national security leak and requrested by the CIA — is sillier than an eight-year long attempt to pin a crime on a president and that resulted in a perjury charge completely unrelated to the original rationale for the investigation. At least Libby was actually lying about the potential crime being investigated and not something completely different. 3) Patrick Fitzgerald’s statement is too long to quote in its entirety, but he makes the point that the reason you charge someone with obstruction, is because its possible the only reason you are not charging the underlying crime is because the obstruction was effective: ‘And what we have when someone charges obstruction of justice, the umpire gets sand thrown in his eyes. He’s trying to figure what happened and somebody blocked their view. ‘As you sit here now, if you’re asking me what his motives were, I can’t tell you; we haven’t charged it. ‘So what you were saying is the harm in an obstruction investigation is it prevents us from making the fine judgments we want to make. ‘ What if you did not charge obstruction? Potentially Libby gets away with both the underlying crime and obstructing the investigation into the underlying crime, and basically gets off scott free.

  2. I for one, am slightly disappointed that Rove hasn’t been indicted. Perhaps he will be in the future. June of 2006 would be a good time. A Rove indictment will result (long term) in a better country. One of the major differences between the Clinton fiasco’s and Wilsongate is the righteous anger as one of the side-effects. A Rove indictment, or an attempt at removing Cheney or even Bush will anger the right to an extent that the left only dreamt about during Monicagate. There is nothing quite like an enraged Conservative base. See Harriet Miers for a mild preview. Can you imagine what it will be like when they’re REALLY full of righteous anger? The Left is so out of touch with the voting public they have no idea what’s in store for their candidates. See 1994 for a preview. I say to the Left, (not to take take words from GW’s mouth) ‘Bring it on’.

  3. FACT: Val P. (As she was known to her fellow CIA classmates) was a NOC(Non Official Cover), the most covert of CIA Agents. Robert Novak (dupe or traitor or both?)exposed her real name and the CIA front company she worked for in Belgium. Valerie Plame was not exposed by the Chinese, North Koreans, or any other foreign government. She was exposed by a member of the United States Government. How far will the constituents of the RepubliCONS allow them to go? This goes beyond ‘politics as usual’.

  4. Chuck & 11Echo: As I said, I’m not trying to minimize this incident. I do think it’s serious and I would probably support standards far, far tougher than most in the name of ‘national security’. My ‘nonplussed-ness’ is more with the coverage that this has received and continues to receive. For two and a half years we have not been hearing about the VP’s chief of staff getting indicted. We’ve been hearing about far bigger game. Just a couple days ago, the VP himself was going to be resigning… All along I’ve argued that everyone should pretty much shut up about this until the facts are out. One area where I disagree with 11Echo is the idea that this sort of thing is ‘beyond ‘politics as usual”. It takes a very selective memory to think that politicians selling the nation up the river for political reasons is anything unusual.

  5. Fact: Val P. is married to Joe Wilson. Fact: Joe Wilson went on a covert mission to Niger, and then wrote a column about this mission in the New York Times, apparently without the approval or even foreknowledge of the CIA or State Department. Fact: Joe Wilson claimed that he was recommended for the mission by someone in Cheney’s office, when in fact it was his wife that recommended him. Fact: Val P. was so covert that she disclosed her employment with the CIA to J. Wilson within days of meeting him. The real questions, to me, are why Scooter is looking at jail time by Wilson isn’t, and why has Val P. not been tossed out of the CIA on her ear? Wilson disclosed a covert mission with national security importance, and Val P. has demonstrated obvious incompetence.

  6. RepubliCONS: smaller Government-balanced budgets-yada/yada… Busheviks…? Now I’m non-plussed.. Gives bush more credit than he deserves…