Monday, September 29, 2003

And now, a bit of sympathy for Glenn Reynolds, who doesn't understand all the fuss about the Plame affair (in which some so far anonymous White House big shots outed Valerie Plame Wilson to Robert Novak as a CIA agent, in apparent violation of applicable law). Granted, Atrios is right that Reynolds' comments on the affair are ludicrous, and that the apparent criminality suffusing Casa Dubya is pretty damn serious. But in Dubya's administration, what's one more serious scandal? As Mahabarbara pointed out months ago, Dubya's contracting shenanigans dwarf Teapot Dome, which brought down an administration in the middle of the last century -- and she wrote before we knew about the corrupt sweetheart deals for well-connected, ill-prepared Republican contractors that are making a fiasco of the Iraq occupation.

Don't get me wrong; blowing the cover of a covert CIA agent for petty political revenge is pretty damn sleazy, and potentially quite serious. But unless Ms. Plame Wilson was involved in something a lot hotter and more dangerous than anyone publicly has wanted to admit (which is possible; WMD were her general area of expertise), the fiascos of the occupation, and the resentment they've engendered, have done a great deal more to harm the long term security interests of this country, and for motives just as base. Both the Plame leak and the sweetheart deals involve clear, unethical behavior; the only reason I can think of for regarding the Plame affair as more serious is that there seems to be a clearly indictable criminal offense. And I'm a little reluctant to weight the seriousness of the various misdeeds of Casa Dubya by how easily each one could be used to drag the bastards into court...

More: Billmon highlights part of a WaPo story which quotes CIA officials as saying that the outing of Plame may have resulted in the exposure of her contacts in foreign WMD programs... in which case, it's certainly damaging. But as damaging as, say, the "macho man" diplomatic posturing which may have driven the North Koreans to restart their nuke program in the first place?

Yet more: Krugman on the cost of cronyism in Iraq...


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