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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Plame Name Blame Game, Take Two


No one yet knows what the special prosecutor has in mind in the Plame Name Blame Game. Will there be indictments, or not? Was the law covering covert agents broken? At this point there are more questions than answers.


What is interesting is that an investigation of a case of supposed leaking of classified information about an active covert CIA agent is itself riddled by leaks, or the major media is guilty of turning speculation into news: Either the prosecutor’s office is not secure, or the degree of speculation by the major media has reached a truly absurd level.

Take your pick: A federal prosecutor’s office investigating what we have been told is a potentially serious breach of security involving a covert CIA agent is plagued with leaks of sensitive material, or the press is irresponsibly floating as legitimate news ideas that have no substantive support.

Neither of these situations is tolerable, and the American people should ignore all of this until the federal prosecutor releases some official statement to the public.

A prosecutor’s office that is so undisciplined as to allow its underlings to indiscriminately release information about an ongoing investigation, particularly when that information is potentially harmful to the reputations of the individuals involved – who may, incidentally, be entirely innocent of wrongdoing – is unconscionable.

On the other hand, if the news media, upon which the American people depend for unbiased information to make sensible decisions about important issues, makes up stuff like this for partisan purposes, or to gin up news coverage to increase readership/viewership, that is equally intolerable.

Beyond being unacceptable and unconscionable, both/either are dangerous, and represent a true threat to the freedom and security that we Americans enjoy.

Can we trust indictments – should there be any – from an operation manned by loose cannons who subvert the legal process? Do we have any reason to believe that the results of an investigation from an organization that cannot even protect its sensitive operations are credible?

Can we trust any media outlet that offers pure speculation as news?

That is the reality of the Plame Name Blame Game today. We have no official statement from the federal prosecutor, yet we have all of these scenarios floating around, all of which have negative connotations for the Bush administrations and individuals within the administration.

Whether leaks or speculation, the information being put out by the media tends to suggest that there won’t be any indictments on the true focus of the investigation: that some number of individuals in the Bush administrations willingly and knowingly revealed the name of an undercover CIA agent. Instead, we are led to believe that there will be indictments of perjury or conspiracy. But doesn’t that beg the question, “if there was no crime of 'outing' an undercover agent, how can there be crimes of perjury or conspiracy? Why would someone lie about something, or try to cover up something that was not a crime?

The answer is that ethically and morally there cannot be an indictment unless a crime was committed. Any “crime” that is charged in the absence of proof that the substantive focus of the investigation actually occurred is tainted with the hint of political monkey business.


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19 comments:

Both Parties Blow said...

Should we trust the investigation? Should we trust the media? My dad told me when I was young that I should trust nobody. It's good advice.

I like the points you made. The leaks are a lingering question, and will only undermine the investigation and any forthcoming prosecutions. The media has had a very sordid history lately of reporting unsubstantiated (and, frankly, false) information as fact. Think of the death toll in the London bombings and Katrina aftermath.

Journalism has always been, and will always be, a propaganda organ to one degree or another. They may lean in different directions, but they simply cannot be trusted implicitly.

And no American should ever trust his government. Eternal vigilance is essential to liberty. The government is not always wrong, but it certainly doesn't have the stellar track record that warrants our absolute confidence.

That's my two cents. Sorry it's long.

James Howard Shott said...

Welcome, and thanks for your comment. You commented almost as soon as the post was up, and before the final editing.

And, by the way, your comment wasn't all that long, compared to some I've had.

Mr. Middle America said...

So, James, is this your fiction or non-fiction blog? I thought I clicked over to the non-fiction... *looks around* *winks*

In my opinion, no one has anything to gripe about... but, and yet, everyone has reason to gripe. That is, the Republicans should have thought about the cyclical nature of politics when Ken Star / Bill Clinton (and their "leakers") were battling. You canot worship the golden calf (leaking to the media)and not expect there to be consequences.

Granted, one could argue that neither of these situations should have happenned. Both can be explained away with logic... But... we the people need to know about corruption. And, my friend, you will have to concede that if the allegations are even half-right... this administration has exhibited some highly suspicious behavior.

"Will there be indictments, or not?"

We should know in a few minutes. In many ways it has me worried. If the original charges are pressed, our country is in for a helluva ride, a helluva lot more bumpy than the Clinton insanity... Because the backdrop to this is a war that will be re-tried in the public... and at a time that a "milestone" has been reached, increasing Iraqi violence, a dis-satisfied public...

Outside of your box and mine... This could get ugly and have MAJOR longterm ramifications (the world over) for the United States of America.

There will be a price to pay for Cockiness and Arrogance... which is seen as good if you are on the up and up... When you make mistakes, that same cockiness and arrogance will bite the hell out of you.

At this point there are more questions than answers.


"Was the law covering covert agents broken?"

I would hope not, but is ALMOST irrelevant. Please tell me you are not endorsing Hutchinson's Meet The Press comments? Mere perjury under oath shouldn’t really bring criminal sanctions?

It's not the crime, it's the cover up that allows most prosecutors to bring wrong-doers to justice. Hell, what was the Basis for the Clinton impeachment? Perjury. It's a crime. Why else would one perjure their testimony if they had not done anything wrong?

i eat puppies said...

I second MMM. Why would someone lie or cover-up a non-crime? B/c they did'nt know whether it was a crime, but were worried enough that it was to lie, under oath no less. At the very least, that shows a lack of ethics and professionalism. At worst, it's illegal.
I state my opinion again- if someone lied under oath about anything other than their weight, there should be punishment.

And tell Hutchinson to quit trying to force Texas gun laws on our city. Meddling wench.

James Howard Shott said...

MMA and i e p, this entire situation smells of political “gotcha.” There are some important things to remember: 1. An indictment is a charge, not a conviction. 2. An indictment is rendered based solely on the input of the prosecutor, with no opportunity for rebuttal. 3. An indictment may not lead to a conviction. 4. It is human nature to assume guilt when someone is indicted. 5. Once indicted, a person’s reputation is irreparably damaged, and in the case of Rove and Libby, they will lose their jobs, like Tom DeLay.

All of these things can occur without there having been a crime committed. Furthermore, like Martha Stewart, who ultimately was not guilty of insider trading as originally charged, but was found guilty of “lying to the government” because she didn’t clearly remember details of something that happened two years prior. It seems quite likely that Rove and Libby may experience the same sort of “justice.”

How many of us clearly remember every conversation we have or meeting we go to? How many of us write notes of everything we do and say? How many of us are likely to mix up details if asked to explain something that happened two years ago? How many of us are likely to give two slightly different accounts of the same event if asked in, say, January for the first explanation, and in July for the second one? Yet, if you give slightly different testimony on those two occasions, you are technically guilty of perjury. With all of this very normal inability to remember details and explain things that happened months or years in the past, any one of us could be, under the current low threshold for indictment, indicted and charged with a crime.

How do like knowing that having done nothing wrong, you might still go to jail because you said two different things at two different times about something that was not a crime?

I frankly doubt that Valerie Plame was “outed” as a covert agent. Based upon what has been reported, she had crossed the time threshold when all of this began, and it appears that none of the principles actually knew she was a covert agent. Of course, that assumes that what has been reported is accurate, and that is a crap shoot in this day of irresponsible, we-got-the-big-news-story-first “journalism.”

I’d be interested to know if Fitzgerald has an agenda. Recent comments indicate that he’s not as squeaky clean as some say he is. But it won’t be long before we know what he is going to do, and then the fun really begins, eh?

And, by the way, i e p, what are you referring to about gun laws? I'm not aware of that.

i eat puppies said...

You might find this interesting

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/linkset/2005/04/11/LI2005041100587.html

i eat puppies said...

She wants to repeal the DC law banning handguns, a law supported by, I believe over 80% of the population. Of course, the majority of guns in DC are smuggled in fromMD, and to a lesser extent VA.

Regarding you opinions on indictments and what not, for many of the examples you listed, I agree, it would be shitty to get indicted on that. But I don't think a prosecutor would indict, or a jury convict, if they felt the charges were an innocent slip of the mind. That's the deliberation Fitz must make. The prosecutors in the Stewart case determined that she did not simply forget a detail, or give two slightly different accounts, but purposefully lied to them. That's perjury.

Can you provide links to what you're hearing about Fitz? I haven't heard anything.
I'd be interesting to know the source of them. My gut tells me the GOP is out to discredit him in anticipation of indictments.

Both Parties Blow said...

I fully support allowing people in DC to own the means of their own protection. But I don't live there, and if 80% of the citizens in the city think I should be denied my rights as an American, I wouldn't live there.

i eat puppies said...

OK, that's your interpretation. The DC law bans handguns, so you could own a gun. As you are aware, there are federal laws (good ones in my opinion) restricting the types of guns a citizen can own. If DC saying you can't own handguns violates your rights, does the government saying you can't own a rocket launcher doing the same? Afterall, a rocket launcher is a small arm (and why limit it to small arms?)

Mr. Middle America said...

Hmmmmm... I definitely remember borderline illegal stuff that I did in the line of duty for the past 10 years. I believe I would recall a specific plot to enact retribution... what the object of my pain did to me, who I told, what plan of action I devised for payback, the people I had involved, etc.

In other words, I do not buy for one second the "I don't recall" line of BS. That is what it is: BS. Plain and simple.

In the world of business and politics... you remember who your friends are... it's all about preservation of self and team. Which is why you have the "don't recalls"... It's called, pure and simple, CYA. Cover your butt.

It's an excuse, it's self preservation, it's spin... to change the prism through which things are viewed. You cannot tell me now or ever that men with IQs above 160 cannot remember such things... not have an impression of these things that can be recalled quite easily...

BS.

James Howard Shott said...
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James Howard Shott said...
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James Howard Shott said...

The Constitution is unmistakebly clear in its guarantee: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." (My emphasis.) A lot of people think the phrase regarding a militia changes the meaning, but it doesn't. The framers clearly intended that for then and forever after Americans would not be prevented from owning weapons. Period. The mangling of the Second Amendment by the anti-gun lobby and their activist jurist partners is a fine example of just why we need people on the federal bench who understand that the Constitution means what it says, doesn't mean what it doesn't say, and who understand what the framers intended, and will not attempt to impose laws and policies from the bench that run contrary to it.

MMA, I believe you overestimate your ability to remember details, and challenge you to go before a grand jury to prove you're as good as you say. :)

Martha Stewart was the victim of an over-aggressive prosecutor who, when he couldn't prove the weak case he imagined Martha was guilty of, managed to trip her up on details. She was guilty of getting facts mixed up on an issue that was not a crime, and now has a felony record to show for it. That is crap. That is wrong. That is just un-American.

Read this story for background on the law Rove is being investigated for having broken, and you'll see what a thin case Fitzgerald has against anyone. Victoria Toensing. Given that, Fitzgerald, if he is any kind of prosecutor, must have known going in that he didn't have much of a case, but he let the myth hang out there, then used it to entrap anyone who made what are most likely innocent misstatements, and now is possibly going to try indict them for "crimes."

How can you have perjury when there was no crime to lie about? How can you have obstruction of justice when there was no justice being upheld?

iep, before Fitzgerald was appointed special counsel in the Plame Name Blame Game case, he defended the prosecution of Martha Stewart against criticism that the Justice Department indicted her only after it couldn't prove the underlying crime she was accused of - insider trading. Guess who chose Fitzgerald to run this probe in Dec. 2003? Deputy Attorney General James Comey, the same person who prosecuted Marthe Stewart. Two of a kind?

There are also stories floating around that Fitzgerald has used heavy-handed tactics to try to induce testimony from people in political cases, and other unseemly things. I don't know whether they are true, but maybe they are.

Mr. Middle America said...

Now, see, James... write articles like this and you will get TONS of debate! This gets the blood pumping and the chests poked out! ehehhe

Secret to remembering: digital recorders, mini tape recorders, notes... record all phone calls... and when the stuff comes down... Format your hard drive!

I will get around to the article later tonight... I just walked in the door and am planning catching some butt time for a couple of hours!

YIKES!!!

i eat puppies said...

James,
Are you saying American civilians have the right to bear hand grenades, rockets, and loaded howitzers (all are arms, and note the constitution has no modifiers, like small arms, etc).
Should I be allowed to make pipe bombs?

James Howard Shott said...

It's important to take the Second Amendment in the context in which it was written, pup. What the framers were saying is that it would be dangerous to freedom if the government prevented its citizens from being able to protect themselves. They were thinking about muskets and such, not cannons. That is the principle I'm arguing.

But if you are a law-abiding citizen who would not misuse any of the things on your list, who is the government to tell you that you can't have one? And, if the government can tell you that you can't own a tank, or a bazooka, or a hand grenade, that same government can tell you that you can't own a shotgun, rifle or handgun.

Pipe bombs are not defensive weapons, of course, and there are already laws against such things. Whether they are constitutional or not, I'm not sure. However, the NRA has never, to my knowledge, challenged those laws, and the NRA is the most ardent defender of the Second Amendment.

i eat puppies said...

Shott,

Exactly- the framers were thinking about muskets and such. If they could have forseen the development of the machine gun or assault rifle, or the automatic hangun, they may have written some qualifications into the 2nd ammendment.
And as long as we're putting the 2nd amendment into context, the framers put in the "militia" part- why would they do that? Was it because they believed every American has the right to bare arms no matter what? Or that, as part of an organized militia, they have the right to bare them in defense of the nation?

Who says a pipe bomb is not defensive? Why can't I booby-trap my home in case of criminals breaking in?

In answer to "who is the government to say you can't own a bazooka if you're law abiding [sic]" the answer is b/c it's really impossible to know who won't be law-abiding until it's too late, and so in the interest of the greater good, society, some weapons of such destructiveness must be regulated, or banned outright. Why the NRA believes this only applies to weapons that don't shoot bullets, I don't know.

And the NRA is not the only organization with a stake in gun laws, so them not challenging certain laws is not really relevant, IMHO.

James Howard Shott said...

If they could have forseen [sic] the development of the machine gun or assault rifle, or the automatic hangun [sic], they may have written some qualifications into the 2nd amendment [sic].

Original intent is important in understanding what was meant at the time the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were written. The term “arms” meant the weapons used by citizens, rather than, say, canon. However, the overriding idea behind the American Revolution was freedom. The Constitution was designed to protect Americans’ rights and freedoms that they were “endowed [with] by their Creator.” Government’s job was to protect God-given rights and freedoms, not to grant those rights and freedoms. And, government was forbidden to limit certain rights. The Bill of Rights was drawn up because some states refused to ratify the Constitution unless specific protections for certain rights were spelled out. One of those is the right to bear arms. Another is the freedom of speech. These were thought so important as to not be left to chance that at some future time some judge or government official might try to take them away.

The “militia” was specifically mentioned because of the potential need for the citizenry to collectively take up arms. However, to read that to mean that the framers did not approve of the use of arms to defend one’s property and life, or to hunt for food would be both foolish and wrong.

As for pipe bombs, I have no problem with your having one, or a hundred. All I would say about a pipe bomb is that home defense is not the most common use of that item.

In your reply regarding bazookas and such you commented, “it’s really impossible to know who won’t be law-abiding.” But remember that this is a country of freedom. We presume people will act responsibly with their freedoms, and leave them alone until they prove otherwise. If you or I own a bazooka, at what risk does that put society? Why should you not have one if you want one? Is it because your government doesn’t trust you? Or because your government is afraid that someone might misuse a bazooka that it will not allow you to have one?

I mentioned the NRA because the NRA is the best-known advocate for Second Amendment rights that I know of, and since we were talking about Second Amendment rights, it seemed appropriate to cite the NRA actions as representative.

James Baker said...
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