Monday, October 17, 2005

Conservatives Gearing Up the Waterworks

Here's another up-is-down sort of piece from the roots conservative online presence, echoing a lot of the same arguments we saw in the American Thinker piece a week or so ago. This one comes from The American Daily; as far as I know the two outlets are not affiliated.

One interesting note before we get into the actual text - the author of this post is part of "Accuracy in Media," which tries to bill itself as the conservative answer to FAIR, which is perceived by archconservatives as being an unltraliberal group.

So this is a glimpse of sorts into just the sort of "accuracy" Accuracy in Media is interested in.

The case has been a revealing and disappointing look into how Bush administration officials tried to work with various reporters, in order to counteract false accusations about the administration’s Iraq policy that had appeared in the press. In the end, they failed. It’s a failure that demonstrates the folly of trying to curry favor with the liberal press.

The only "accusations" material to this case are that the Bush administration overstated the extent of Iraq's nuclear program. It is now known that there was no such program. In what way, then, were these accusations false? Accuracy in Media doesn't get into that.

In the same way that Democrats still call the shots on Capitol Hill, despite a Republican Senate majority, the Times and other liberal media forced the Bush administration to agree to their demands for an investigation in the CIA leak case.

Here's the chronology being described here. Robert Novak, a conservative columnist, leaks the name and occupation (CIA operative) of Valerie Plame in a column. Then the CIA demands an investigation, and John Ashcroft, a Republican, recuses himself from the case. Jim Comey, a Republican, appoints Patrick Fitzgerald, a Republican, to head the case going forward.

Even if we accept what you might call this very strange description of the facts of the case, the logic of the article is extremely tortured. In what way does Miller's testimony "exonerate" administration officials? If we take the most generous view possible, we could say that Miller's testimony may offer some mitigating circumstances. But none of it changes the fact that Scooter Libby and Karl Rove disclosed the identity of a CIA operative to the press in an effort to take heat off the White House, then repeatedly lied about it to a grand jury and, at least in Libby's case, tried to put pressure on Judy Miller not to reveal the substance of her conversations with Libby.

These are crimes. Once the indictments come down (especially if Cheney is somehow mixed up in all this) you can expect conservatives to try to draw a parallel between the current investigation and the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal. But the piece of the Clinton situation they conservatives were never able to accept is that when you file secondary charges like perjury and obstruction of justice, it really does matter what sort of behavior was at the root of the initial investigation. Obstructing an investigation into a campaign of intimidation by the White House against a administration critic is fundamentally more serious than obstructing an investigation into a President's reputation as a playboy.


The Greatness said...

The article is, at best, a defense of Libby's behavior as something that a reasonable person would do under the circumstances, if by reasonable you mean "fiercely political and vindictive".

I'm not sure you're really giving Cliff Kincaid enough credit here. You say Accuracy in Media doesn't go into the falsity of the nuclear accusations. He records that Miller said that "Mr. Libby alluded to the existence of two intelligence reports about Iraq’s uranium procurement efforts. One report dated from February 2002. The other indicated that Iraq was seeking a broad trade relationship with Niger in 1999, a relationship that he said Niger officials had interpreted as an effort by Iraq to obtain uranium.” And further, that this report about Niger was attributed to Joe Wilson.

If this is true, it of course has no bearing on whether the covert secrecy law was violated. But if Libby truly believed that Wilson had written a memo in 1999 saying exactly the opposite of what he was saying later, then he'd be understandably pissed about it.

Is there any truth to the claim that Wilson maintained there was an Iraq-Niger link, however tenuous, in 1999?

Adam P. Short said...

That's an interesting question. I tried to look into it, but I can't find anybody who describes things in this way, and he doesn't really make it clear what his primary source material is.

However, if you read carefully, you'll see that this is what Kincaid is actually saying:

1) Joe Wilson contributed to a report in 1999 detailing Iraq's pursuit of a trade relationship with Niger.
2) Scooter Libby said that Niger officials had interpreted this proposed trade agreement as an effort to obtain uranium.

What he doesn't make clear is that this 1999 report, whatever its content, had nothing to do with Wilson's allegations against the White House. There was a second trip, not mentioned here, and that was the one for which Joe Wilson was suggested by his wife.