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The House'a'Hubris Plays the Plame Game

petty attack on househusband will bring down Bush House of Hubris

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, October 19, 2005.

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit the waiting over who is going to be indicted in the Valerie Plame case isn’t terribly exciting. I say this because it seems it could be possible that not only Karl Rove and Scooter Libby, Vice President Cheney’s Chief of Staff, but Cheney himself might be in the sights of a Republican prosecutor elevated by the Justice Department after then-Attorney General John Ashcroft recused himself. At least, if a conspiracy existed of which the release of Plame’s identity was only a part.

As a sub for the Attorney General, Patrick Fitzgerald was given all of that office’s powers to run this investigation. To date, he has run a leak-proof affair, and has demonstrated such a profound avoidance of self-congratulatory press conferences, he should be commended. Recall how similar investigations in the recent past were run. Recall, at least, Ken Starr, who was on TV daily and came up with almost nada in his gargantuan and expensive effort. At first blush, the whole Valerie Plame Affair seemingly can’t be elevated to the level of a nothing without much liquor, and you can trust me on that. But what it might reveal and who it might bring down are very important.

First, let’s review. Joseph Wilson was acting US ambassador to Iraq in the run up to the first Gulf War under the first Bush. Twelve years later, he was the US envoy sent to Africa to investigate reports that Saddam had tried to buy nuclear material there, called yellow cake. On his return in February of 2002, he told Bush it wasn’t true, but eleven months later, in a State of the Union address, it appeared as fact. Six months after that, Wilson announced in the New York Times that his trip disproved Bush’s allegations. This is July, 2003, five months after the invasion.

Only one week later, Washington Post columnist Robert Novak wrote that one reason Wilson, a critic of the Bush Administration, had been given the African mission was that his wife - a CIA agent - had recommended him. And at that petty revelation…….nothing whatever happened. Nobody noticed it.

Except the CIA, which understandably remains testy about the identities of its operatives, whoever they are. In September of 2003, it became known the CIA had asked for a formal investigation into who leaked the information to Novak, being a federal crime to reveal the identity of an active CIA operative and all. Brought to public attention not by journalists but by the CIA, Democrats and Bush haters claimed the Bush White House leaked the name of Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, in revenge against her husband. It’s the sort of thing that got operatives killed in the past.

Novak hasn’t talked to his peers about this, and at one time stormed off a television show in a huff. It is assumed that Novak came clean to Fitzgerald right off, but we don’t know that. Novak being used to embarrass Wilson and Plame just as the revelation that Bush had been wrong and Wilson correct began to gain traction didn’t seem to embarrass the Administration, for being so petty, or Novak himself, again revealed as a right wing lapdog, or the media in general for utterly missing the story and its huge implications at the outset.

Strangely appearing is one Judy Miller, an over-surgically enhanced reporter for the New York Times who has won a Pulitzer but was nothing short of a Novakian lap dog for the Bushies in the period leading up to and during the Iraq invasion. An altogether too close a friend of Ahmad Chalabi, the Man on Horseback for the Neocons whom they thought would be proclaimed Iraqi President after the victory parade and all those flowers were cleaned up, and apparently of Scooter Libby as well, Miller had printed as fact any tale about the certainty of Iraq’s WMD’s without showing signs of having done the least research or talking to those who claimed otherwise. Such things, presented as fact in the New York Times, the world’s allegedly best newspaper, did much to convince the public about the need for the Iraq War, primarily because all media follows the Times’ lead.

While in Iraq, Miller accepted the hospitality of Chalabi and stayed at lodgings denied other reporters, some of whom had declined because of the appearance of conflict of interest. Had Miller achieved some sort of insight or benefit to her stories from this appearance of conflict, she could be excused, but she became very much the mouthpiece of her hosts, all under the guise of being a journalist.

Miller never wrote about Plame or Wilson in this matter, knowing nothing of it. But it was known she had interviewed people involved during this period, and she and her notes were subpoenaed, and she and the NYT’s fought against it, and lost. Her notes of interviews with Libby showed she had talked to him about Wilson, and she had written down the name Valerie Flame instead of Valerie Plame. Allegedly to protect her source Libby, Judith Miller went to jail while, it turns out, her husband cruised the Mediterranean. And after a melodramatic series of events that ring as false as a Scott McClellan announcement, Miller, in effect, released herself when she reinterpreted her own ethics. This is entirely suspicious. It’s also embarrassing because her notes show what a sloppy reporter she is. Yet, given a choice between Plame, Wilson, and Miller for hero, it’s this reporter who somehow floated to the top. In the evildoer category, Cheney, Libby, Rove share top billing, but it was Bush who hired and protected them and, after all, lied to us and everyone.

It’s possible no indictments will emerge, but it’s also more likely that the administration that came to power talking about superior ethics and morality will be brought low by the CIA taking umbrage, and its own baseless hubris.