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.