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Which is it, was Outing Plame a Big Deal or Not?

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The Jailing of Judith Miller

The New York Times writes:

The case was about the “outing” of an agent – supposedly covert, but working openly at C.I.A. headquarters – in Robert Novak’s column two years ago by unnamed administration officials angry at her husband’s prewar Iraq criticism.

To show its purity, the Bush Justice Department appointed a special counsel to find any violation of the 1982 Intelligence Identities Protection Act. That law prohibits anyone from knowingly revealing the name of a covert agent that the C.I.A. is taking “affirmative measures” to conceal. The revelation must be, like that of the 70’s turncoat Philip Agee – “in the course of a pattern” intending to harm United States intelligence.

Evidently no such serious crime took place. After spending two years and thousands of F.B.I. agent-hours and millions of dollars that could better have been directed against terrorism and identity theft, the prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, admits his investigation has been stalled since last October. We have seen no indictment under the identities protection act.

What evidence of serious crime does he have that makes the testimony of Judith Miller of The New York Times and Matthew Cooper of Time magazine so urgent? We don’t know – eight pages of his contempt demand are secret – but some legal minds think he is falling back on the Martha Stewart Theory of Prosecution. That is: if the underlying crime has not been committed, justify the investigation by indicting a big name for giving false information.

However, the Democrats have a portion of their old website that was dedicated to Plamegate (the cached version is here and I’m not sure for how long). It includes several quotes from the New York Times and other papers about how horrible and terrible Plamegate was. Well which is it?

The New York Times, when they didn’t think they had any skin in the game, was talking up the crisis as worse than Watergate. But when it turns out that one of their own reporters can finger the culprit, they start singing a new tune. Which part is the spin? The first part, spinning for the benefit of the Left, or the second part, spinning to cover their complicity. You make the call.

From Ravings of John C. A. Bambenek

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About John Bambenek

John Bambenek is a political activist and computer security expert. He has his own company Bambenek Consulting in Champaign, IL that specializes in digital forensics and computer security investigations.
  • wahoo

    Who is covering their complicity?

    George Bush could just walk down the hall and say — “OK — who dunnit? I’ll give you one minute to ‘fess up”.

    Has he done this?

  • JR

    Um, hello? The point is that the White House is having it both ways.

    If anybody illegally revealed imformation, it was Robert Novak. Why the fuck are are they jailing the reporters who didn’t publish?

    If this case doesn’t give you serious reservations about this administration, you’re just un-American.

    One way or the other, there is a criminal in the White House.

  • Nancy

    Yeah, I’ve wondered why they were going after these two and not Novak. And Fitzgerald wouldn’t have to be up against a wall if the Bush admin weren’t stalling or stonewalling. This makes no sense, but it does stink.

  • http://homepage.mac.com/mistahcoughdrop/ MATTHEW ROSE

    It’s pretty obvious that the White House’s prosecutor here is after blood and not truth. The point of this charade is to silence reporters. Since Novak is in the pocket of Rove and other Bush operatives, no need to get the truth there. Incredible that this is the country we now live in. Make that disgusting.

  • http://jcb.pentex-net.com John Bambenek

    Stonewalling? I was under the impression the Administration made it quite clear anyone with informatino was to come forward.

    And this is a special prosecutor, not a “White House” prosecutor.

    But this aside, I was focusing on the NYT’s change of tune.

  • http://xraystyle.blogspot.com Bryan McKay

    It’s not entirely fair to call this a “change of tune” for the New York Times, as the piece you cite isn’t an actual news story. It’s an opinion piece written by author and former Op-Ed columnist William Safire (incidentally well-known as a conservative).

  • Nancy

    I never did think much of the ‘silence of the confessional’, especially where violent crime was concerned; much less that reporters shared that privilege. However, this does appear to be a squeeze play by the admin to find out who tried to finger whom in the white house/administration, otherwise they could have just gotten the info from Novak & been done with it. As for Bush directing anyone to speak up, even I know there’s directive to come clean…and then there’s directives to come clean, with unspoken understandings. None of us are total naives, even me.

  • Shark

    Bambineck, William Safire is NOT the NY Times.

    And where’s that turncoat traitor Robert Novak? Shouldn’t he get the death penalty under current American law?

    (Bambi, your opinion — for once on Blogcritics — would be welcome!)

    ========

    JR: “…One way or the other, there is a criminal in the White House.”

    My — not only are you generous, but you’re opptimistic!

  • JR

    Stonewalling? I was under the impression the Administration made it quite clear anyone with informatino was to come forward.

    Doesn’t Robert Novak know who gave him the information? If he hasn’t “come forward” with the name, why isn’t he in jail? If he has talked, why isn’t the White House leaker in jail?

    And why hasn’t the White House explained any of this to us?

    (Because they are stonewalling.)

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com/ andy marsh

    since we don’t know who the leaker is…do we actually know that it’s someone from the white house? I mean…they’re not the only ones that know the names of our agents…just a thought.

  • Nancy

    It was Mark Felt, in the kitchen, with the candlestick.

  • http://selfaudit.blogspot.com Aaman

    Good one, Nancy – Most people are Without A Clue

  • http://selfaudit.blogspot.com Aaman

    The first paragraphs of the William Safire story linked are compelling:

    LEGEND has it when Henry David Thoreau went to jail to protest an unjust law, his friend, the philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, visited him and asked, “Henry, what are you doing in here?” The great nature writer replied, “What are you doing out there?”

    The Supreme Court has just flinched from its responsibility to stop the unjust jailing of two journalists – not charged with any wrongdoing – by a runaway prosecutor who will go to any lengths to use the government’s contempt power to force them to betray their confidential sources

  • http://selfaudit.blogspot.com Aaman

    The last runaway prosecutor had other targets, methinks

  • KC

    Does anyone know if other than asking if anyone with infor. has come forward, has anything really been done to find who was behind the leak.

    I mean has e-mail been tracked, phone records (prof. and personal ) been requested, and have lower level employees i.e. clerks and aides been interviewed and questioned? We know a leak happened, so there has to be evidence of that other than the journalists who were given the leaked infor.

  • http://jcb.pentex-net.com John Bambenek

    Shark-

    To be honest, I’m not entirely sure exactly what Valerie Plame’s status was. Depending on who you talk to you get a different answer.

    But I’m against the death penalty regardless.

  • Andrew

    Geez, Safire doesn’t even work at NYT anymore (as the byline notes)! And when he did, he was a columnist not editor. The Times can condemn BOTH Plamegate and Millergate with perfect consistency. Certainly they’ve shown more backbone than Time Magazine.