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The Shame of the Plame Game

By Brian | October 27, 2005 | Share on Facebook

They’re saying the special prosecutor is going to announce indictments in the Valerie Plame matter tomorrow, so before it all starts, allow me to go on record: Shame on us all. To wit:

Shame on the American people for not seeing what is coming a mile away, and rising up as one to say, “Enough already!” This has got Lewinsky-gate written all over it: an investigation about one thing, yielding charges about something else, all in an effort to punish people for a third thing (which isn’t illegal, but has really ticked people off). The last time we allowed this to happen, we got so distracted as a nation that the mainstream media was actually debating whether or not bombing Osama bin Laden might have been a diversionary tactic to take the focus off the President’s legal troubles. What will we let slide this time?

Shame on Republicans like Kay Bailey Hutchison, who are refuting all charges before they’re even made, suggesting that there’s no reason to, you know – actually examine the charges before declaring them bogus. I’m sure some spin doctor out there has indicated the need for positive voices to counter all the negative voices out there, but IMHO, doing this only weakens the case later if the charges are bogus. Also, how in the name of all that is holy can she say something like this:

I certainly hope that if there is going to be an indictment that says something happened, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn’t indict on the crime and so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation was not a waste of time and taxpayer dollars.

Tim Russert took the words right out of my mouth:

But the fact is perjury or obstruction of justice is a very serious crime and Republicans certainly thought so when charges were placed against Bill Clinton before the United States Senate.

Check out the whole conversation if you like – perhaps Clinton was charged with more than just perjury, but perjury was the main charge (certainly the one most people remember), and to suggest now that perjury doesn’t warrant the indictment of a government official is so hypocritical that it’s almost impressively so.

Shame on the media (and not just the mainstream this time – bloggers too!) who talk about the crime as theoretical, but discuss the rationale behind it as fact. I’ve yet to read that Rove & Libby are accused of “disclosing the name of a CIA agent.” Instead, I read that they are accused of “disclosing the name of a CIA agent in order to get revenge on her husband for publicly criticizing the President’s main justification for going to war in Iraq.” Not that I put revenge past these guys, but I can easily see a scenario where the crime was committed but the rationale was different. Consider: Wilson writes his Op-Ed piece in the New York Times. High ranking government officials get deluged with questions about his trip to Africa – Why was he there? Who did he talk to? What did he find out? At some point, one of them tells a reporter that the CIA sent him there (as opposed to the White House or anyone else), and mentions that his wife works for the CIA and maybe that had something to do with why he was selected. The crime (disclosing her name) is still present, but let’s face it – this could have been background data run amok just as easily as it could have been revenge.

And finally, shame on the Democrats who’ve been planning this since the day Clinton was impeached. Obviously, I can’t prove this, but I’ve always had the feeling that there were folks out there vowing to impeach the next Republican President for something, either for pure revenge or to lessen the historical importance of Clinton’s impeachment. The war in Iraq felt like the right venue for such a stunt (and yes, it’s a stunt), but the war has yet to produce an actual crime among the executive branch – just a lot of decisions that royally pissed off those who disagreed with them.

The constant repetition of the rationale (to get revenge on her husband for publicly criticizing the President) strikes me as the tell-tale sign of game at hand. The “linking” game also seems to point that way. For example, Tuesday’s NYTimes reported on the front page that Libby had learned about Plame from Dick Cheney, rather than from a reporter. This strikes me as an excuse to mention Cheney’s name in conjunction with the whole affair, even though speaking to his own Chief of Staff hardly sounds like a crime of any kind.

Bottom line: if crimes were committed, the guilty should be punished in accordance with the severity of their crimes. But we’ve been through the process of turning the executive branch into a hot, new reality show. We know the downsides. And if we do it again, then shame on us all.

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