July 17, 2005

Clearing up the Wilson-Plame Business

The Democratic opportunism toward Karl Rove and the Wilson/Plame story is just silly. While I agree that unethical bheavior or violating state secrets are grounds for firings even if not illegal, it's interesting that of all the Democrats lined up to destroy Rove, few of them said much of anything about punishing Sandy Berger when he "accidentally" stole documents from the NARA. Of course, I'm willing to bet hypocrisy swings the other way against Republicans, too - although the media and Democratic actions against Rove are a good ten times more energetic and far more common, showing up on news seemingly more often than the Aruba stuff.

Personally, I'm consistent: I could barely care less about it. I understand it's important, but violating confidentiality has never been one of my pet peeves unless it causes something tangible like losing a mission, losing lives, losing battles, etc. What is one o my pet peeves is when stupid people get away with making false arguments simply because other stupid people repeated them enough to gain acceptance by force where acceptance by reason was not available. So I want to clear up a few things.

First of all, Rove did not commit a crime. The author of the statute Rove supposedly violated told WorldNetDaily as much. Several elements that aren't or arguably aren't present are required to fit the statute. 1) The agent must have operated outside the US within the previous five years. That didn't happen, because apparently she was back in the states in 1997, while the Novak column was in 2003. 2) The government has to take affirmative steps to protect the covert agent's identity. She was apparently no longer working as a covert agent, and let Joe Wilson go to Africa without signing a confidentiality agreement. 3) The statute also requires intent to disclose the identity of a covert agent. Arguably, this did not happen, especially given that Rove has signed waivers letting reporters discuss all their interviews with him on the subject.

Additionally, I found it very interesting that Chuck Schumer, one of Rove's biggest critics here (no doubt because he smells headlines) voted against the bill creating this statute back when he was in the House. Man, Schumer is such an ass. Wants to ban guns, wants to ban violent video games, and wants to keep intentionally outing overseas covert agents legal but make talking about formerly overseas, formerly covert agents illegal if it's Karl Rove doing it. Seriously: Chuck Schumer is an asshole.

But back to the subject at hand. Rove didn't commit a crime. However, Joe Wilson's anti-war arguments now getting a rehashing in the media - supposedly the reason Rove sought 'revenge' against him by outing his non-covert wife - are false. In the 2003 State of the Union address, Bush said: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." The lefties have said that this was perhaps THE lie that the war was predicated on. Of course, the war was also based on other stuff like the major terrorists Saddam was believed (and now proven) to have aided or sheltered and the democratization of the Middle East, but that's beside the point. The fact is that Iraq DID try to buy nuclear material in Africa.

The problem is that there were fake documents related to the sale between Iraq and Niger, and that allowed Wilson to make the claim that Bush lied (and let Democrats say "Bush lied, people died" endlessly until their heads explode). But that isn't the extent of the evidence. But some intelligence sources believe the fake document was actually intended to be found and discredited, thus making the nuclear link appear false.

British intelligence has consistently argued that Iraq tried to buy yellowcake uranium from Niger. The evidence supports this conclusion (for more, check out this year-old NRO piece). So the President was right to include those 16 words in the 2003 State of the Union address, because they were accurate.

Not only was Wilson wrong about the Niger link, but he flat-out lied in the process. He said the CIA told the White House that the African link wasn't entirely unsound, when the CIA never did such a thing. He said that he knew the Niger memo was fraudulent because the names and dates were clearly wrong, but he couldn't have seen the memo at the time he was in Africa because the US didn't acquire the memo for another eight months. A Senate invesitgative panel found that he had lied in both situations.

The Democrats rallying behind WIlson reminds me of the Democrats rallying behind Richard Clarke. They want a guy who can symbolize THE FAILURE of the Bush Administration. It matters not what the failure is or even whether it really happened, but the bigger and juicier the better - especially if it means they can try to neutralize the war on terror as Bush's issue. They don't really want to claim it for themselves, because that would entail being even more gung-ho than Bush. They just want to feel patriotic, look strong and not have to worry about security issues anyway. Richard Clarke and Joe WIlson are both cast in the role as disrespected, disgruntled ex-government officials who wisely know THE TRUTH about the lies behind the war and are going to speak truth to power (mostly by publishing fluffy, self-indulgent books and going on the rent-a-speaker lecture circuit) and become the face symbolizing the failures of the Bush White House.

Of course, Joe Wilson isn't nearly as credible as Richard Clarke and his star fizzled after a month or so. If anything Joe Wilson is just a reminder that the Niger-Iraq connection is real. Wilson is a symbol of the Democrats' opportunism and enthusiasm run wild; they've latched onto a known liar as an excuse to go after Bush and to get Rove kicked out. It won't work; Rove will keep his job a while longer (though he might leave before the term is out; eight years is a long time to work for any Administration) and Wilson will be dropped because of his lies. It's hard to indict Bush and Rove of being liars when your mouthpiece is such an unabashed one.

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