Tuesday, October 18, 2005

As evidence that I am not dead, I offer more wisdom from Times Select. Today's installment, which lucky non-subscribers can't read, comes from their new conservative, John Tierney:

For now, it looks as if the outing of Valerie Wilson was done by officials who didn't think it was illegal and believed they were replying truthfully to a partisan who had smeared them. Hardball politics isn't pretty, but it's not criminal, either.

They were replying to Joe Wilson's report about Niger, that is, by talking about his wife. Republican logic at work.

Why is Tierney so sure that this was mere hardball politics? Well, for one thing

This case, if you can remember that far back, began with accusations that White House officials violated a law protecting undercover agents who could be harmed or killed if their identities were revealed. But it now seems doubtful that there was a violation of that law, much less any danger to the outed agent, Valerie Wilson.

There wasn't much danger to Wilson because she was back home when her cover was blown. But blowing her cover also blew the CIA front company she was working under, and exposed colleagues still in the field. Which might be one reason the law in question applies whether Wilson herself was endangered or not. Perhaps you can imagine others. (Imagine how her former contacts would react. And their soon-to-be-former contacts and colleagues). But Tierney can't --- at least not when Republicans are wriggling on the hook.


The case originally aroused indignation because the White House appeared to be outing Wilson as part of a campaign to unfairly discredit her husband, Joseph Wilson, who accused the administration of ignoring his 2002 report debunking evidence that Iraq was trying to acquire material for nuclear weapons. But a Senate investigation found that his report not only failed to reach the White House but also failed to debunk the nuclear-material evidence - in fact, most analysts concluded the report added to the evidence.

So, if the middlemen the White House put between themselves and Wilson suppressed his report, then by Republican ethics, the White House itself gets none of the blame. And Tierney's last claim --- that the report "added to the evidence" --- is true, in so far as there was more evidence once he finished writing a report. But that report refuted the charges. If Tierney thinks it didn't, what on earth does he believe the "hardball politicians" in the White House were retaliating for?

Tierney does also say that the Republicans' perjury charges against Clinton were bogus --- but he's wrong about so much else that it's hard to give him much credit (update --- particularly as I may have been giving him too much even for this; see comments....)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: your PS, Tierney says the Clinton perjury charges were accurate. I think you probably meant that, but people who don't have access to Tiems Select or read the dead tree version like I do could get terribly confused.

10:42 AM  
Blogger charles said...

Tierney's complete remarks on the topic:

Perjury, of course, was the charge that Kenneth Starr accurately pinned on Bill Clinton, but the public didn't buy it. People realized that whatever the affair and the cover-up said about Clinton's character and judgment, the scandal was not a crime.

So he's schizo --- he first says that the criminal charge of perjury was valid, then goes on to say that it "was not a crime". More Republican logic, I guess...

12:01 PM  

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