Tuesday :: Jul 12, 2005

Making Judgements (a response to Bob Somerby)

by eriposte

Bob Somerby (The Daily Howler) says:

Did King Karl know that Plame was covert? Let’s note one key point for the record: Under terms of the most relevant statute, it isn’t clear that Plame really was such an agent. (Under terms of this statute, a “covert” agent is someone "who is serving outside the United States or has within the last five years served outside the United States.” It isn’t clear that Plame qualifies.) At any rate, if Rove didn’t know that Plame was covert, it isn’t clear that he committed a crime—and no one has really begun to show that he had such knowledge. But so what? This hasn’t stopped the triumphalist liberal web from aping the pseudo-con world of the 90s. In that decade, everything Clinton did was a crime, and every bit of “evidence” “proved” it. This produced a decade of sheer stupidity—a decade the liberal web starts to match.
Now, Bob is a person that I (and I think most lefty bloggers) respect a lot. But considering that his record of covering the whole uranium in Africa episode in 2003 was badly marred by the exclusion of important facts (leading to his untenable conclusions), it is unfortunate that he chose to make these over the top generalizations about lefty bloggers without acknowledging his own mistakes.

Now, this is not a rant about Bob. I agree with his general viewpoint that we need to keep ourselves bound by facts, but he makes two mistakes in his judgment here and those need to be highlighted.

First, let me cite Armando's response to Bob at Daily Kos:

Common sense tells me that 2 years into the investigation, the Plame prosecutor would have gathered enough facts to make such a determination. Seems a simple enough question. Heck, to me 2 hours seems sufficient. Served overseas? Check. In the last five years? Well, the CIA would know that one hopes. And the CIA referred the case to Justice. My application of common sense tells me that the answer is probably yes. Not enough? How about this:
The CIA declined to discuss Plame's intelligence work, but an agency official disputed suggestions that she was a mere analyst whose public exposure would have little consequence. "If she was not undercover, we would have no reason to file a criminal referral," the CIA official said, insisting on anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation.
Don't know about Bob, but the CIA official makes sense to me.
Now on whether Rove knew this, to the degree that anyone is saying that it is certain that he did, well that's going too far. Bob takes Josh Marshall to task for saying "almost certain." That's too far too. But what of his sweeping generalization of the "triumphalist liberal web?" Hey Bob, quite the wide net you cast there. Given the strict review you applied to Josh, it seems a bit hypocritical for you to be so imprecise in your use of words.

Second, my comments. Armando says "Now on whether Rove knew this, to the degree that anyone is saying that it is certain that he did, well that's going too far." Is that really the case?

As of last week I was saying that we can't even be sure that Rove even mentioned Valerie Plame to Matt Cooper - based on my foolishly believing that Rove and his lawyer were being honest. However, since Newsweek's report, some things became crystal clear:

1. Rove did reveal Valerie Plame's CIA identity to Matt Cooper, and it became obvious that his (and his lawyer's) denials were very carefully worded to mislead people. [Link for trolls]

2. Rove had previously, specifically, lied about his role in the matter.

3. Rove's lawyer has been flip-flopping like crazy.


So if someone uses the above information (facts) and uses the long history of the mendacity of the Bush administration (facts) on just about everything (including the "16 words" that led to this) to reasonably conclude that Rove is now lying about his lack of knowledge of Plame's covert status, this is somehow akin to the wacky behavior from the Right on the fake anti-Clinton theories? That's utterly ridiculous. If Bob is asking lefties to give Rove benefit of the doubt (on his honesty!) when Rove specifically lied and misled the public on this very issue, that's a bit much.

For the record, let me state my position on Treasongate.

  • I don't know for sure if Rove "legally" committed a crime, but there are indications that he likely did. I have not and will not claim that he (specifically) has been proven to have "legally" committed a crime (unless proof emerges in the future).
  • I don't know the full list of people who conspired to expose Valerie Plame (illlegally or otherwise), but the published facts are clear that there was a concerted effort by senior people in the Bush administration to do exactly that.
  • If the CIA did not believe that a crime had been committed Patrick Fitzgerald would not have wasted our taxpayer money on this investigation. So, the facts clearly indicate that a crime was committed by one or more people in the Bush administration. Therefore, I am well within reason to call this a crime - and a high crime at that.
  • It's a separate matter whether the crime will be prosecuted in court or whether Fitzgerald will fail to find sufficient legal grounds to prosecute the offenders. Could the perpetrators escape in the end? Sure it's possible -- and history (and the media's history) is on Bush's (and Rove's) side. But that doesn't mean that conclusions based on facts (the same kind of conclusions that Somerby himself makes, when convenient) are an outrage equaling the Right's 1-2 decade long peddling of their fabricated falsehoods about the left.


eriposte :: 10:55 PM :: Comments (13) :: TrackBack (11) :: Digg It!